Located beside the green and dreamy river of Dak Bla, Kon Tum city is always a destination of many travelers who are interested in exploring the wild and majestic beauty of green forests, and the ancient features of stilt houses of Ba Na people including 100 years old church known as the Cathedral of Kon Tum.
The wooden cathedral of Kon Tum is located on Nguyen Hue Street, Kon Tum city.
Characteristics of Kon Tum cathedral
The church was made entirely of valuable wood, that is a combination of Roman-style architecture and traditional stilt house architecture of Ba Na people. The church was completed in 1918.
When tourists come to Kon Tum city, there is an address that they should not overlook: Kon Tum wooden Cathedral which is beautiful and unique with a hundred year old.
Zone of the church garden has a statue of Mary holding Baby Jesus in her hands made from a pristine woody with rustic carved style of ethnic in Highlands. The crucifix and the statues decorating the outside and inside of the church as: the sheep and the saint statues were made of tree’s root in the forest making the space is tinted with colors of mountain and jungle.
You can visit Kon Tum wooden church at any given time. If you come in the season of bean flowers blooming, on the way to the church you will see the red and white color of the flower road making splendid beauty of KonTum. If you visit here at Christmas, you will see thousand parishioners belong to a lot of ethnic groups. They come to the church; they stay on the ground beside the church all the week to attend the Mass. That is the bustling and vibrant day of the church with bustling purchases scenes. And in this fair has many craft products from the village showed for sale. And if go to the church in a certain normal day, you will see the silent of a church. Two-rows of seats beside the church in the Mass are the place for people pray becomes a place for students to study in this time.
It not far from the Cathedral, you can see the Kon Tum seminary was built by the first bishop of the diocese of Kontum from 1935 to 1938 also has the same architecture as the church but larger scale. Step through the gate, visitors feel relaxed with two old trees line which are shady and fragrant on the way to the seminary.
On the second floor of the seminary, there is a traditional room showing detailing the history of evangelization in Kon Tum from the mid-19th century, including many artifacts, writings … of the priest on the way of preacher, images and documents related to the history and development of the diocese of Kontum. The artifacts, maps exhibited in seminary are very valuable, being meticulously carved of wood. We may consider this is a small museum about living things, agricultural tools and cultural items of ethnic minorities living in this province.
History of the wooden church
According to historical records, in the mid-19th century, there was a way which was 120 km long called “the way of salt, ceramics and gongs” from Quang Ngai to Kon Tum. This way was remote, wild and bumpy from Thach Tru junction, Quang Ngai province, crossing through Ba To, Violac pass. That was the way of businessman who exchanged salt, ceramics and gongs or trading items between Kinh people and ethnic minorities in area.
In this time, French missionaries followed this path to begin their missionary work and started building churches by wood, bamboo and thatched grass for preaching. The first church was built in 1870.
Until parishioners become more crowded, Father Joseph De Rouille was assigned to look after Kon Tum parish. In 1913, he decided to build a large church with ca chit timber materials. The construction of the church lasted until 1918 to complete. Whatever has gone through historical changes, so far the church has not been damaged but still solid.
Kon Tum wooden cathedral is a masterpiece which was designed with Romantic architecture combined harmoniously with stilts house architecture of Ba Na people, so it bring cultural and religious nuances of people on the highlands from the vignette lines to the emphasis on the material. The cathedral is a closed construction including: the chapel, the living room, and the showroom of ethnic and religious products, communal house. There is also an orphanage, sewing workshop, weaving workshop and carpentry workshop.
This church was built of wood by skilled carpenters from Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai provinces. The ceilings and walls of the Cathedral were built of mud mixed with straw in the style of traditional houses in the Middle of Vietnam. On the straw walls are colored glasses painting of Jesus, and Virgin Mary which is brilliant when the sunshine of highlands getting through…