Visit Noah's Ark in the Netherlands

A Dutchman with a passion for religious education has built a full-sized replica of Noah's ark so that visitors can experience the famous story from the old testament of the Bible like never before.

Based on measurements from books 6-9 of Genesis, Johan Huibers had to convert ancient measurements into their modern day equivalent and undergo the mammoth task of building a wooden boat supposedly big enough to house two of every creature on the planet.

It took him 20 years to complete and opened to the public in Dordrecht, just south of Rotterdam, this week.

His finished vessel measures:

  • 427 feet (130 metres) long
  • 95 feet (29 metres) across
  • 75 feet (23 metres) high

The passage in the Bible is actually very detailed about the size and proportions of the Ark:

“And God said unto Noah... Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it." (Genesis 6:14-17, King James Bible)

A cubit is an ancient measurement, roughly the length of a person's forearm. Modern estimates suggest that the biblical cubit would be about 18 inches in today's terms. This is the conversion that Johan used to build his massive ship (it is just over half the size of the Titanic).

At 130 metres long, it would be considered the largest wooden boat of all time, if it weren't for the fact that it is actually sat on a raft of 25 LASH barges. Although, Huibers has applied for it to be registered sea-worthy and plans to tour it around Europe.

Unlike Noah's, however, Johan's Ark is mostly populated by fake animals like a tall giraffe that overlooks the bow of the ship. There is also a petting zoo packed with live, albeit less exotic animals like sheep and ponies. And, the furthest diversion from God's original design, the ship contains two cinemas and a restaurant.

The Ark is set to receive 3,000 visitors a day.

Studying theologyJohan Huibers built his Ark so that people could explore the story of Noah and he's not alone.

For centuries theologians have been exploring the Old Testament tale. There is general agreement that the story of Noah's flood relates to the story of creation, but some people believe that the Ark was actually used to protect the bones of Adam, the first human, and also contained gold, frankincense and myrrh, suggesting that Jesus' birth was already expected.

Some variation on the flood story exists in nearly every Judeo-Christian religion and other schools of thought. Huge amounts of modern research has attempted to prove or disprove the flood story, but nothing conclusive has been discovered. 

If you're interested in this or any of the other stories of world religions, you should study theology.