Unique architecture of hundred-year-old wooden cathedral in Kon Tum

Thursday, 2020-03-26 11:27:37
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The Kon Tum Wooden Cathedral is a catholic church on Nguyen Hue Street, Thong Nhat Ward, in the centre of Kon Tum Province. It is very near other famous destinations such as Kon Tum Bishop's Palace, Bac Ai Pagoda, Kon Klor Suspension Bridge, Kon Klor Communal House and Kon K’Tu Village.
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NDO – Kon Tum’s wooden church, which is considered to be the most beautiful of its kind in the Central Highlands, is an extremely unique religious architecture with over 100 years of history.

It is a symbol of Kon Tum Province and an attractive destination for visitors to the locality.

The cathedral was built by French priest Giuse Decrouille between 1913 and 1918. Despite weather and wars over the past 100 years, the wooden church has remained undamaged.

The main material of the cathedral was “ca chit” wood, a kind of “sen do” (Shorea roxburghii) tree that was very popular in the Central Highlands in the past. It was constructed by artisans from the provinces of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai. Its ceilings and walls were made of soil mixed with straw. The wooden panels were stuck together with mortises, not using nails.

The wooden cathedral is a combination of Roman style and traditional stilt house architecture of the Ba Na ethnic minority people.

With an area of up to 700m2, the wooden cathedral is a close “great project”, consisting of a palace of worship, a guest house, a place displaying ethnic and religious products, and a communal house. In addition, there is an orphanage and a brocade sewing and weaving facility of the local ethnic people.

The top of the bell tower stands out in the blue sky.

The church’s front is 24m high and divided into four floors, which are smaller the higher it is. It consists of four main columns and other auxiliary ones that were connected into arcs. A solemn and precious wooden cross was placed at the top of the tower.

The corridor to the cathedral with the roof designed in the architectural style the of Ba Na ethnic minority people’s communal house.

Inside the church, the small columns are linked together to form domes, creating a wide and airy space.

The cathedral’s altar. The Kon Tum Wooden Cathedral is one of 27 Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and the oldest one in the Central Highlands.

The colourful glass pictures of God, Our Lady and biblical examples were mounted on the walls inside the chancel.

A statue of Monsignor Martial Jannin Phuoc - the first bishop of the Diocese of Kontum, who had made great contributions to evangelisation in the Central Highlands, was erected in the courtyard.

The cathedral opens year-round to everyone, regardless of religion. However, on Sunday, visitors are only allowed to go inside after 9am to avoid disturbing the prayer of the local Catholics.

The wooden cathedral has become a popular destination and resting place for several Kon Tum people. A small market, displaying handicraft products from the local villages, is also held at the church.

The solemn wooden cathedral is a symbol of Kon Tum Province and a source of pride for the local Catholics.

Photo credit: Ha Du