4 sacred temples in the four wind directions of Hanoi
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With over 1,000 years of history, Hanoi has been Vietnam’s center of Buddhism – a major world’s influential religion and philosophy founded in Northeastern India in the 5th century BC – for centuries. The city has more than 600 temples and pagodas, which are architecturally as diverse as the city’s landscape and cuisine.
Most of them serve as places where religious relics are kept and are also popular tourist sites on all Hanoi day tours.
However, outshining them all are four sacred temples built in the four wind directions of the city – "Thăng Long Tứ Trấn" of ancient Thang Long – to protect Hanoi from evil spirits and bad influences.
Quan Thanh Temple – the protector of the North
Quan Thanh Temple
A Taoist temple established during the reign of Emperor Ly Thai To (1010-1028), Quan Thanh Temple is one of the four jewel temples in Hanoi and a cultural and historical monument to visit on your Vietnam culture tours.
Legend has it that Quan Thanh Temple was built to honor Huyen Thien Tran Vu – Deity of the North of Vietnam in Taoism, which used the serpent and tortoise as the symbols of power – wealth and protection. The pagoda’s graceful huge trees and beautiful lakeside setting have made it a particularly enchanting symbol of the city. Make sure to keep an eye out for a true masterpiece – the four-meter tall bronze statue of Tran Vu holding a snake and turtle.
- Opening Hours: 05:00-19:00
- Location: At the crossroads of Quan Thanh and Thanh Nien Street – Southern shore of Truc Bach Lake, Ba Dinh District.
- Entrance ticket: 10,000 VND
Kim Lien Temple – the protector of the South
Kim Lien Temple
A temple located in Quang An Village, Tay Ho District, Kim Lien Pagoda is thought to be one of the magnificent pagodas retaining its ancient architecture in spite of several architectural renovations over the years. According to Vietnamese legend, the Ly Than Tong King ordered the construction of the temple for his daughter called Princess Tu Hoa.
It is probably best known for its three slightly-curved-shaped pavilions, each of which has two roof layers. Most visitors, however, are content with its nice disposition on the Nghi Tam Peninsula on the bank of West Lake, where they can wander the picturesque grounds and snap pictures of the temple from various viewpoints and beauty spots including the gate of Kim Lien Pagoda – a symbol of sophisticated and elegant architecture. Don’t miss Kim Lien on your Hanoi tours!
- Location: No 1 Au Co, Quang An, Tay Ho District.
Voi Phuc Temple – the protector of the West
Voi Phuc Temple
Literally “Temple of Kneeling Elephants,” Thăng Long Tây Trấn (Thang Long Citadel’s Western Guardian God Temple) was constructed in the Year of the 7th Chuong Thanh Gia Khanh (1065) under the reign of King Lý Thái Tông in Thủ Lệ Village and dedicated to Royal Highness Linh Lang. As an ancient build with several restorations, it has some interesting features to attract both worshippers and non-worshippers alike, including its large campus, lush green trees, 2 statues of kneeling elephants in front of the temple, and ancient materials like Bat Trang bricks, blue flagstones, and ancient articles have been conserved.
- Location: the former Thu Le Village – today located near Kim Ma Street and Thu Le Zoological Garden, Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh District
Bach Ma Temple – the protector of the East
Bach Ma Temple
Originally built in the 9th century under the reign of King Ly Thai To on the site of Long Do Mountain to honor Bach Ma and moved to its current location in Hanoi Old Quarter in the 18th century, Bach Ma – White Horse temple is the top choice of Buddhist temple to visit on your Hanoi day tours!
Waiting behind the pagodas’ wonderful old wooden doors are a statue of the legendary white horse – which was thought to be an incarnation of a local river god, a shrine to Confucius, a Phoenix Altar for offerings to the four seasons as well as a beautiful red-lacquered funeral palanquin.
- Location: 76 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem District
From the 11th-century Quan Thanh Temple to the unique Temple of Kneeling Elephants – all of these 4 temples in 4 wind directions, which have a common theme: peace and serenity – are wonders to behold and the places to go in Hanoi.