Hanoi – Places of worship: temples, pagodas, and one cathedral

Temples and pagodas are everywhere in Hanoi.  As far as I can tell, there’s only one Catholic church.  We’ve visited many of them as we’ve explored the city.  They are beautiful and, to my Christian eye, a little mysterious and baffling (for example, many of the offerings in temples are cigarettes, beer and fake American dollars — what deity or spirit would want such things?).

Also, in case you’re wondering what the difference is between a pagoda and a temple:  Both are places of worship, but in a pagoda one worships Buddha, while in a temple one worships a notable human being (a king, or a hero, for example). 
 

One-Pillar Pagoda
The original structure was built hundreds of years ago by a king who wanted to thank the gods for giving him a son.  Faithful Vietnamese who want sons still worship here.  The current structure is a replica of the original, which was destroyed in the war.

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Temple of Literature
This, too, is an ancient temple, and as far as I could tell was dedicated to Confucius and some of his followers, as well as the founders and major donors of the university that was affiliated with the temple for centuries.

This temple is set up as a series of five sequential courtyards, each of which represents a different element (fire, water, wood, stone, wind — I think those are the elements), and each courtyard has a gate with three doors (the central door for the king, the two side doors for everyone else).


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Stelae with tortoise bases for the professors
 
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Detail of the lacquer finish on the doors
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Detail of the roof tiles
 
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Ngoc Son Temple and Huc Bridge
This temple sits on a little island in the middle of a lake in central Hanoi.

 
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Ambassadors’ Pagoda
According to the Lonely Planet guidebook, this pagoda is the mother ship for Buddhism in Vietnam.  It is made up of an enormous central place of worship, surrounded by smaller rooms (like chapels) and residences for monks and nuns.
 
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Saint Joseph’s Cathedral
Built in 1886.
 
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3 comments

  1. Anonymous · · Reply

    Very beautiful. Lady

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  2. Now I am so curious, having lived in a communist country myself, how did the Vietnamese communists deal with religion? Are people punished for being religious. Then, once the Americans left and the communists took over, how did the Catholics fare?

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  3. Okay, so I learned more about religion in communist Vietnam: Apparently it isn't a problem. The Vietnamese government doesn't interfere with religion, except for requiring religious organizations to register with the government (which presumably does give the government some control over the organization, but pretty musth everyone I've asked seem to think the government is fairly hands off).

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