Around 35km from Tuy Hoa city in the central province of Phu Yen is Mang Lang, one of the oldest churches in Vietnam, which is also home to the first book written in Vietnam’s modern Romanized script – quoc ngu.
Mang Lang church was built in 1892 and covers 5,000 square metres. An example of Gothic architecture, the church is richly decorated and has a cross is positioned in the middle of two steeples on the exterior.
Mang Lang is small, but it has a very large yard with many green trees. There is a small chamber built inside an artificial hill and a basement filled with sculptures about Saint Andre of Phu Yen.
Entering the basement, tourists can view relics related to the church’s history. Most notably, the first book written in quoc ngu, “Christianity in Eight Days,” has been kept here protected by a glass box. It was printed in 1651 in Rome, Italy. The book was written by Alexandre de Rhodes, the Jesuit priest who Romanized Vietnamese writing.
The Vietnamese alphabet, called Chu Quoc Ngu, is the current writing system. It is based on the Latin alphabet with some digraphs and the addition of nine accent marks or diacritics — four of them to create additional sounds, and the other five to indicate the tone. The many diacritics, often two on the same letter, make written Vietnamese easily recognizable.
With exceptional architecture and design, Mang Lang church is an excellent sight-seeing destination for visitors to Phu Yen Province.