Kon Tum wooden Cathedral church in Vietnam’s Central Highlands is a rare architectural splendor. Built in between 1913 to 1918 from expensive ironwood and rosewood and without any nails, the church stands on 100 pillars.
The cathedral is one of the oldest churches in the Central Highlands that survived many natural disasters and wars largely unharmed. The church is a confluence of Roman architecture and traditional stilt house style of ethnic Ba Na people. It has now become a symbol of identity and heritage of people in Kon Tum city, the capital of Kon Tum province.
French missionary Father Giuse Decrouille from Paris Foreign Mission Society (MEP) built the church and he used artisans from Binh Ninh and Quang Ngai provinces to create the wooden masterpiece. It has an arch-shaped 24-meter-tall front supported by four main columns. The 100 pillars of the church are arranged in two rows inside and outside the walls.
The church is decorated with colored glass paintings of Jesus, Mary, and other icons from Bible. The life-size statue of MEP Bishop Martial Jannin Phuoc, the first bishop of Kon Tum, welcomes visitors in the campus of the church. The French bishop is credited for evangelization Kon Tum where Catholics today account for about 16 percent of the total population.
A small market has sprung up near the church, where local villagers display and sell their handicrafts products to the visitors.
Local communists view the wooden cathedral of Kon Tum as a piece of pride and heritage.
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