Located in the same name ward near the West Lake, easily reached by a short walk from Truc Bach Lake, the Quan Thanh Temple (Vietnamese: Đền Quán Thánh), formerly known as Tran Vu Temple, is a Taoist temple in Hanoi, Vietnam. Famous as one of 4 Sacred Temples of ancient Thang Long citadel (White Horse Temple in the East, Temple of Kneeling Elephant in the West, and Kim Lien Temple in the South) and dated to the 11th century, the temple was one of the principal deities in Taoism and also one of the leading tourist attractions in Hanoi nowadays.
Legend has it that Quan Thanh Temple was established during the reign of Emperor Lý Thái Tổ (1010–1028) and was dedicated to Tran Vu, Deity of the North in Taoism, whose symbols of power are the serpent and turtle. There is also a second smaller Tran Vu Temple in Gia Lam district. During its long history, Quan Thanh Temple has been renovated several times, most recently in 1893 when the principal gate and the shrine were redone, so the architecture is a mixture of the many different styles of the imperial era. The prominent features of Quan Thanh Temple are: a large yard shaded by a giant banyan tree and a shrine that contains the famous bronze statue of Tran Vu built in 1677.
With 13 feet in height and around 7,000 lb in weight, this bronze statue is considered a masterpiece of Vietnamese bronze casting and sculpture, also the second biggest bronze statue in Vietnam. The statue appears as a sitting Taoist hermit, the left hand passes magic and the right hand holds a sword shrouded by a snake propping against the back of a tortoise.
Beside the statue of Tran Vu, the main shrine also has a valuable collection of ancient texts such as poems or couplets which dated from the 17th and 18th century. After each restoration, a stele was often kept in temple for the record; the oldest one dated from 1677 while the latest was made by Viceroy Hoàng Cao Khải in 1894 under the reign of Thành Thái Emperor during the French colonial era.
By tradition, Hanoians often come to Quan Thanh Temple on the occasion of Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) or the first and fifteenth of each lunar month (new and full moon respectively) to worship and pray for health, luck and happiness for them and their relatives. With its history and architecture, Quan Thanh Temple is one of the tourist attractions in Hanoi.