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Life-size Noah's Ark replica draws tourists in Netherlands

March 28, 2014 at 10:03 AM ET

Video: Many will be heading to the theater this weekend to see Russell Crowe’s biblical epic “Noah.” But you’ll have to head to the Netherlands to see an actual life-size ark in person. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

While the ark commanded by Russell Crowe in the upcoming biblical epic "Noah" is a product of special effects, there is an actual life-size ark in the Netherlands that is the product of three years' work and more than a million dollars. 

Following proportions specified in the Bible, Dutchman Johan Huibers built a replica of Noah's Ark that has welcomed about 3,000 tourists per day since it opened to the public in 2012. The enormous wooden boat in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, houses full-scale plastic animals along with a pair of movie theaters and a restaurant. 

Huibers was inspired to build the ark by a nightmare he had in the 1990s in which he dreamed that the Netherlands was overwhelmed by a flood similar to the one in the Book of Genesis. In 2004, he built an ark that was half the size of the specifications from the Bible and then used proceeds from tourists to build a life-size one entirely out of Swedish pine trees. It took three years and cost more than a million dollars.

In the Bible, God commands Noah to build a boat that is 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high in advance of a great flood. Huibers equated a cubit to the average length of a man's forearm in building his version. Here is "Johan's Ark" by the numbers: 

  • 450 feet: Length of the boat
  • 3 stories: Height of the boat
  • 75 feet: Width of the boat
  • 14,000: Number of trees it took to build the ark
  • 1,500: Number of people the ark can hold
  • 3,000: Number of tourists who visit it per day on average
  • $11,000: Cost of one life-size plastic elephant replica on the ark

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