Nikolay Kunchev: Noah's Arc will Bring Non-European Tourists

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | September 7, 2002, Saturday // 00:00

The famous Noah's Ark will appear in Bulgaria as a tourist attraction next March. The replica of the arc is being built at the Black Sea coastal resort of Sunny Beach. The Bulgarian historian Nikolay Kunchev is the "father" of the idea and heads the ambitious project.

Nikolay Kunchev met Martina Iovcheva


Q: How did you come up with the idea for a replica of Noah's Arc as a tourist attraction?

A: The idea is definitely unique. We came up with it some two years ago when the sensational in archaeology theory of Columbia's professors William Ryan and Walter Pitman about Noah's flood in the Black Sea was published. On the basis of geological, archaeological, oceanographic proofs, the thesis says that Noah's flood was a real event that took place seven thousand years ago at the territory of the then freshwater Black Sea, following a break in the link between the Bosporus and the Mediterranean Sea.

Q: Do you personally believe that seven thousand years ago Noah's flood took place at the Black Sea?

A: It is indisputable that seven thousand years ago there was a huge flood and the freshwater then sea turned into the nowadays-saltwater sea, called Black Sea. A number of archaeological finds for the last twenty years from the territory of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast prove that. For example, the finds from the Durankolak pre-historic necropolis absolutely prove the swamping by rising waters of a flourishing settlement. The finds from the pre-historic Varna necropolis where the biggest and probably the oldest gold in the world are another proof.

It is a fact that a quite developed European civilization existed on Bulgarian territory some seven thousand years ago. William Ryan and Walter Pitman thus claim that this is the land of origin of many civilizations.

Q: Who is behind the entire project?

A: Many people have helped and cooperated and still do. The project is an entirely private initiative and initially a result of huge enthusiasm.

Q:How far is the project completed so far?

A: The first stage includes reconstruction of Noah's Arc with its impressive biblical size - 112 metres long and 26 metres wide wooden vessel. It will have also an underground part. Our aim is the arc to open doors in the beginning of next March with its concomitant tourist attractions.

Q: What will these attractions be?

A: The entire complex covers 14 decares, the area of the arc is a bit on more than two decares. The tourists will be transported to Noah's Arc complex with a prehistoric caravan with camels and buffalos. There will be a museum exhibition that will tell about the archaeological finds, proving the presence of a flood in the Black Sea seven thousand years ago. Other finds in Bulgaria will also be exhibited, including most probably the oldest "proto-writing" from Gradeshnitsa. We plan also the construction of an underground temple - a sanctuary like the one where the Bible claims that Noah offered a sacrifice thus buying back the human species and its future.

Q: Your initiative is entirely private. How could the state help such projects?

A: The state hasn't helped us so far. However, I think that it could in the future by including the pre-historic topic in the national promotion strategy. Bulgaria is one of the countries with richest history on Europe's territory.

Q: How is the project financed?

A: The project is entirely privately financed. Finding funding was most difficult. However, now this problem is solved thanks to a number of tourism agencies. So far, we have invested some BGN 50,000. Till the completion, we will need some BGN 70,000 more. That includes the construction of the necessary equipment for the animals, tourist attractions like ponies, peacocks, etc.

Q: What results do you expect from the project? Can the project fail?

A: I do not think that the project could fail. There is a huge interest on behalf of tourism agencies. That confirms that we are on the right track.

I also think that the development of the Noah's Arc and flood thesis is quite attractive to result in an increase in the number of foreign tourists in the country. This will help Bulgaria to be promoted as a very nice to visit destination, which provides not only perfect hotel conditions, low prices, etc., but also places of interest where one could learn something. That is something that is extremely modern and that is what the intelligent tourists seek today. I expect non-European tourists to express interest in this tourist attraction. It is well known that for the American tourists, Europe's interesting tourism sites have to do with France, Italy and Greece. We also have what to offer on the basis of the good infrastructure in the sector and similar to our initiatives in the field of the culture tourism.

Bulgaria is one of the few European countries that can offer to foreign tourists in particular both the luxury and civilization of Europe and the exotic of the Orient and the East if we present it in a suitable and attractive way. We are trying to achieve this blend in fact.

Q: Do you have other projects?

A: For the time being we focus on the restoration of one of the miracles in the world. We'll see after that.

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