CATH NEWS REPORT: For three years, the quaint old city of Dordrecht has watched in amazement as a local businessman's dream of building a real-life Noah's ark, stocked with thousands of plastic animals, became a reality, says an AFP report in the Australian.
The enormous vessel stands at an abandoned quay on the Merwede River, about 65km south of Amsterdam.
Here, Johan Huibers, 52, and a team of 50 dedicated employees put the final touches to what they believe is the only life-size wooden ark in existence.
"We want to tell people about God," the deeply religious Dutchman answered when asked why he undertook the project. "We wanted to build something that can help explain the Bible in real terms."
His undertaking is all the more amazing as Huibers is building the replica according to ancient standards cited in the Book of Genesis, which say the boat was 300 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 50 cubits wide.The plan is to open what Huibers, who is in construction, calls "a Bible museum" by the end of the year, but he will allow local residents in on a one-day sneak preview later this month.
With a cubit estimated roughly as the distance between the elbow and fingertips, or a half-metre, this makes the ark's dimensions staggering - about 150m long (490 feet), roughly four storeys high and some 25m across. It weighs around 3000 tonnes, Huibers said.
A massive roof protects sprawling decks where Huibers plans to place life-sized replicas of some 1600 animal species to represent the Biblical tale of Noah, who was ordered by God to build the ark to save his family and animals of all species before the earth was swamped by a massive flood.
"The wood is Swedish pine, because that's the closest we think to the 'resin wood' God ordered Noah to use in the Bible. The animals are plastic and come from the Philippines," Huibers said.
On board there will be sleeping quarters, including Noah's bedroom, a theatre and stage, a fully equipped restaurant as well as conference facilities to seat 1500 people.