Thijs Zonneveld, a former cyclist, made a joke that a 2,000m high artificial mountain should be created in the Netherlands.

Now, the mass media are reporting that it is being seriously considered:

Example: Agence_France-Presse (AFP)

A 2,000-metre-high mountain in the flatlands of the Netherlands is no longer just a pipe dream, the idea's main supporter, a newspaper columnist, said on Saturday. "The idea is not new but it's the first time that it is taken seriously by so many people," Thijs Zonneveld, a former athlete and writer for free daily De Pers said.

I think the original idea (burying the homes of 370,000 people to build an infeasible large structure, in order to ski and train for cycling) is ludicrous, but it was a joke. Ha ha. I like jokes. No problems.

However, the claim that this idea is being taken seriously is also ludicrous - and yet is being reported as news.

I would like to know if there has been any serious attempt to consider this proposal: e.g. a funded feasibility study or environmental impact study, the forming of a committee in a local government - basically anything more than a bunch of engineers and quantity surveyors drawing doodles and spreadsheets on napkins over a few beers.

Alternatively, have there been any retractions from AFP or evidence that Zonneveld likes to play practical jokes on the media?

I fear this is a bit of a silly question - but if I am right, I don't like it when nonsense like goes unchallenged in newspapers across the world. If I am wrong, this is an amazing story and I want to know.

  • 1
    Eh, not impressed. The Berg was there first. Logistics didn’t work out. Aug 22, 2011 at 18:49
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    Interesting. Is the manifesto as much gibberish in the original German as it is in English? "Logistics didn't work out." You shock me! :-) It may have been only a tiny fraction of the size, but at least, "Mount Thebarton" was built before it went broke.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 22, 2011 at 18:59
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    It appears to be a very faithful translation. :-D Aug 22, 2011 at 19:05
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    @jwenting, here in Australia, it is wintertime, and the newspapers print ludicrous stuff all year around. :-)
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 23, 2011 at 12:32
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    Bear in mind that our ancestors back in the 17th century emptied [out a lake only slightly larger than modern-day Boston] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haarlemmermeer) using windmills because they figured it'd make a nice place for an airport in a couple hundred years. More recently, we built up plans for [several hundred miles of storm surge barriers] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deltawerken) after a flood 60 years ago, then modified them more or less on the fly in order to preserve the fresh/saltwater ecology of the area... Aug 25, 2011 at 7:01

1 Answer 1


Not currently

Its domain (www.diebergkomter.nl) is currently for sale, a strong indication the initiative has run out of steam. But that doesn't mean it was never considered.

Not officially

It has never been an official proposal or even idea by the Dutch government. Creating a new province, Flevoland, out of an inland sea, was. Building the Delta works to protect the provinces of Zeeland and Zuid-Holland from the sea, was too.
Now it's hard to prove an absence, but in all news articles I could dig up, no governmental involvement was mentioned.

But feasibly

The original proposal was made in jest, in a July 2011 op-ed on the Dutch news site Nu.nl. It was called "Berg!", which translates to "Mountain!" and is still accessible on the site.
It was met with enthusiasm by more people than Thijs had anticipated. Several sporting federations were interested. Technical universities were too. Feasibility studies were done. The proposal was settled on a hollow mountain; a solid mountain would be much too heavy, depressing the land in a 50 km. radius. A hollow mountain would also allow for the inside to be used for agriculture or energy storage. The most likely location was decided as off the coast of Noord-Holland.

Not anymore

The latest news article I could find, was from December 2012. It read that Thijs Zonneveld had let go of the idea as unattainable, mostly because of its costs — an estimated €4-7 000 000 000 000.


The best description of the seriousness of the project was perhaps given by Zonneveld himself, according to Reuters:

"It was not serious but the next day there was such a serious response from people who had actually been thinking about it and calculating stuff that it made me realise I was not the only one who'd had that idea," Zonneveld said.


"People may think this is a publicity stunt but this is not true. Publicity is the means because if people don't know about it, it cannot be done. The goal however is to build this mountain," Zonneveld said.


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