INHABITANTS and visitors to Trenčín can now imagine they are in ancient Greece. On October 3, on the beach of a nearby river island, a replica of an ancient Greek ship arrived. The boat was made by craftsmen in the Moravian town of Přerov. A replica military rowing boat, it was commissioned by members of the Wandering Knights historical fencing group who plan to give rides to tourists in the unusual vessel on the River Váh. The ship will also act as a floating museum.
"It is a battleship of ancient Greece, from the period about 500 years before Christ. It will look exactly like battleships did on distant expeditions at that time. We are also preparing educational voyages for the public,” Jaroslav Matejka of the Wandering Knights told the ČTK newswire. He said in the future the ship could also sail down the Danube River as far as the Black Sea.
The boat is 17 metres long, 3.6 metres wide and its mast towers eight metres above the deck. Its sail is 40 metres square and the ship holds 20 rowers on each side. It cost more than €30,000.
The vessel is named Hyperborea, i.e. Country of the Northern Wind. Greek bireme ships – so called due to the two rows of oars on each side – were used in wars between the Greeks and the Persians in about 480 BC.
Craftsmen in Přerov put all their efforts into the project for three months during the summer holidays and were only recently able to test the vessel in the Orava reservoir.
“This ship was quite laborious in terms of details. Instead of the planned two months, it took three months to finish. You have to permanently look after a wooden vessel but if you take proper care, it can outlast even an iron or fibre-glass ship,” said Radim Zapletal, who constructed the vessel together with his helpers.
His Přerov workshop has made about three dozen historical ships, some of which have appeared in Hollywood movies. Matejka told the SITA newswire that they did not have any written documents from when biremes were originally made, so they had to use artistic depictions and the help of historians and military strategists to recreate the ancient ship. He believes such vessels could have travelled on Slovak rivers, especially the Danube and its tributaries at that time along the 'Amber Road' of central Europe.