Saturday 24th of August 2019, 17:40 CET
Noah's Ark: Tourist Attraction in Bulgaria
September 1, 2002
Scotsman

Written by Ed Holt
Posted by HW on August 24, 2019

BULGARIA is hoping to inject new life into its fledgling tourism industry by creating a theme park of biblical proportions dedicated to Noah and the Great Flood.

The Bulgarians are hoping that the latest evidence which shows the country was at the heart of the great flood will also lead to a deluge of visitors.

"Romania has its Dracula so we’ll have our Noah’s Ark," said Nikolai Kanchev, a local historian who will head the new park.

The plan follows a series of research trips and expeditions by US geologist Dr Bob Ballard who previously located the Titanic and has now found evidence in Bulgaria of the Great Flood.

Businessmen are preparing to pour money into the creation of the park at the Black Sea resort of Slanchev Bryag (Sunny Beach). The centrepiece of the planned tourist attraction will be a huge wooden Ark, 350ft long, 70ft wide and 30ft high.

The replica of the ship that saved Noah from the floodwaters will come complete with animals - "there’ll be two of every kind of animal that Noah once chose", said Kanchev - and actors playing out the biblical hero’s escape from the floods.

There will also be a ‘40 days and 40 nights’ rollercoaster and a ‘Great Flood’ water ride, as well as other themed attractions.

The park hopes to cash-in on the excitement created over recent expeditions carried out by Ballard.

The American explorer discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985. He has become a huge celebrity in Bulgaria since heading exhibitions around the Black Sea in the past 12 months - and the thought of discovering the Ark has captured the public imagination.

Ballard himself believes that rising sea levels caused by the passing of the last Ice Age put pressure on a natural dam that finally burst about 7,000 years ago - submerging forever some 19,000 square miles of inhabited land around a huge freshwater lake.

And Ballard is convinced he will find more evidence to show the Black Sea is what was left after a flood so immense it gave rise to the legend of Noah. It was supposedly caused by a wall of water that broke through what is now the Bosporus with 200 times the force of the Niagara Falls. According to the Bible, Noah’s Ark eventually found dry land at Mount Ararat, in what is now eastern Turkey, close to the border with Iran.

Professor Petko Dimitrov, head of the Department of Oceanology at the Bulgarian Academy of Science who is working in partnership with the Americans, said evidence so far had already supplied tantalising hints of a catastrophic flood which had wiped out human settlements in the area.

He added that the deluge was more likely to have lasted 40 years than 40 days.

"In 1978 we were able to prove that there was once a freshwater lake with people living at its edge, and as we found out more we realised the change would have coincided with the timing of the biblical account of Noah and his ark," he said.

By carbon-dating the shells of extinct freshwater molluscs and sea creatures it has been proven that the Black Sea turned from a lake into a small sea between 5460 BC and 4820 BC.

Ballard added: "I don’t think there’s any doubt that people were down there when the water came in. What we want to know is who were they?"

Whether Ballard’s team do find the remains of the Ark off the Bulgarian shores or not, the new theme park will use what it can from Ballard’s search of the murky waters of the Black Sea to attract visitors.

"We plan to have displays and interactive exhibitions for people here to show them what’s been found in the Sea," said Kanchev.
 
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