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Dordrecht, Netherlands

Johan's Ark

“And the Lord said unto Johan, build for thee an ark for the end of the world is approaching.” 

Twenty years ago, Johan Huibers dreamt about a gargantuan storm that brought the wrath of the ocean onto The Netherlands. The Dutch carpenter interpreted this, along with other signs, as a message to build a replica of the mythical ark that delivered humanity from a great deluge over 4,000 years ago.   

As with most projects of epic proportions, Huibers started off small. Working with only a few devoted volunteers, he constructed his first model of the ark. This ‘miniature’ was 70 meters long, 9 meters wide, and 13 meters high. The ark sailed around The Netherlands, opening its doors to over 600,000 visitors. With one ark under his belt, Huibers set to work on his original undertaking: An accurate full-size replica of the original vessel.

The Bible doesn’t record how long it took Noah, but he probably wasn’t as efficient as Huiber and his team who finished in a little over three years. Constructed using the exact dimensions detailed in the Bible, the massive naval structure is 135 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 23 meters high. A trip on Johan’s ark would be slightly more luxurious than the original as it sports a cinema, two amphitheaters, and a restaurant. The wildlife is less wild as well, as the ark features a menagerie of fake plastic animals such as cows and giraffes. The only live animals on the ship are in the petting zoo which lets visitors interact with some of God’s more docile creatures such as dogs, ponies, and sheep. Johan’s ark strives to animate the story of Noah through a variety of films, presentations, paintings, and games, rather than a full-blown zoo.

Despite recent predictions of global warming and rising sea levels, Huibers has no intention of becoming the second human in history to survive a catastrophic flood. He built the ark rather to remind people that “there is a God who loves us, and that He has a plan for our lives.”