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Dutchman builds replica Noah's Ark after flood dream

By Tim Hume, for CNN
July 30, 2012 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Johan Huibers, a wealthy Dutch Christian, has built a full-scale replica of Noah's ark according to the measurements given in the Bible. Johan Huibers, a wealthy Dutch Christian, has built a full-scale replica of Noah's ark according to the measurements given in the Bible.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Dutch businessman has built a replica of the Biblical Noah's Ark
  • It is built to the proportions specified in the Bible, and filled with plastic animals
  • The man built the ark after a nightmare that the Netherlands was flooded
  • He hopes it will help spread the message of the Bible

London (CNN) -- A Dutchman has built a replica of Noah's Ark to biblical proportions, following a dream his homeland would be flooded.

Johan Huibers, a wealthy businessman, used the ancient measurement of the cubit -- the length of a man's arm from elbow to fingertips -- to build the vessel to the dimensions specified in the book of Genesis.

The finished craft -- which has just been opened to the public on the Merwede River in the Dutch town of Dordrecht -- is 300 cubits long (about 450 feet or 137 meters), 50 cubits wide (about 70 feet or 21 meters), and 30 cubits high (about 45 feet or 14 meters).

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Huibers has filled his ark, which will operate as a "Bible museum," with life-sized plastic animals and an aviary of live birds to give visitors more to interact with.

"We want to tell people about God," Huibers told AFP. "We wanted to build something that can help explain the Bible in real terms."

It is not Huibers' first ark. He completed his first, a half-scale replica of Noah's Ark, in 2004, and used it to take tourists on canal trips, before beginning work on a full-scale version in 2008.

The origin of the project stems from a dream Huibers said he had in 1992, in which the low-lying Netherlands was flooded by the North Sea.

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"The next day I bought a book about Noah's Ark. That night while sitting on the couch with my kids, I looked at it and said: 'It's what we're going to do,'" he told AFP. "I have always been a dreamer."

He resolved to build the ark, to inspire children with the biblical story of how Noah and the inhabitants of his Ark survived the flood that, according to Old Testament, washed the world clean of sin.

Despite his best efforts, it was impossible to adhere entirely to the biblical description of the Ark. Genesis describes Noah's boat as made of "gopher wood," but experts disagree over what this is.

Instead, Huibers and his team built the boat by welding together the metal hulls of 25 barges into a single frame, which was then covered with Scandinavian pine. Weighing about 3,000 tons, the boat contains sleeping quarters, a theater, restaurant and conference facilities to seat 1,500 people.

Huibers initially wanted to sail his ark to London for the Olympics to share his message with sports fans. But he was forced to abandon his plan to sail across the North Sea after authorities raised safety issues.

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