The boats

On the occasion of the Great River Race, we are proud to honour Centennial Romania with a brand-new fleet of six boats exhibited on the Thames’ banks and participating in London’s river marathon, in their maiden voyage. Each of them features one of the six historic provinces that accomplished Romania’s Great Union of 1918: Wallachia, Moldova, Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bucovina, and Dobrogea.

The exhibition is poised to bear testimony to the strong Romanian identity, its diverse and wealthy cultural heritage, its lasting traditions, heroic past and vibrant present. The boats are made by one of the last authentic Romanian woodwork craftsman, who is trying to salvage the noble and old craft of wooden boat-building. Moreover, they show construction characteristics and adornments specific to the Romanian historic regions.

Historical regions of Romania


The region formerly known as Bessarabia, located just across the border with Romania as part of the modern-day Republic of Moldova, reunited with Moldova and Wallachia in March 1918, after a brief period of being a part of the Russian Tsarist Empire. Positioned between the Prut River and the Dniester River, in the middle of the rich and exquisitely beautiful Cucuteni archaeological culture (5000 B.C.), with stunning landscapes and a cornucopia of produce, Bessarabia is welcoming and surprising. Some of Europe’s best wines are to be found here, as well as the largest wine cellars one can imagine; the underground limestone galleries stretching over lengths of tens and even hundreds of kilometres and tens of meters depth shape legendary subterranean wine cities, where millions of litres of wine rest at constant temperatures all year long. Its unforgiving winters yet mellow springs and colourful autumns make it a perfect destination for cultural tourism and ecotourism.


Bucovina, an astounding treasure trove, is the Northern Romanian region where nature, communities and divinity connected to revel in the impressive thick forests. The natural canvas has been gracefully transferred into the vibrant colours of the churches and monasteries that stand as testimony to an exclusive architectural and decorative style. One of the most impressive feature of this wondrous region is the famous “Voroneţ blue”, a unique hue, amazingly well-preserved on the exterior walls of the 15th century monastery, and whose recipe has been long lost. The Voroneţ Monastery, the “Sistine Chapel” of the East, is just of one the tens of spiritual and historical places scattered all over Bucovina. Its picturesque villages, the lavish cultural heritage and archaic places are among the gems of this area where tradition still drives its inhabitants’ destinies.


In Moldova nature’s majesty and rustic life brilliantly balance the spirituality, smooth language and culture of the seemly people who steward for it. Like in any other Romanian region, the traditions, faiths and customs are carefully preserved and reverentially transmitted to the next generation. George Enescu was born in Moldova; he started as a prodigy child, only to become one of the most relevant violinists, pianists, composers and professors of the 20th century. The Romanian national poet, Mihai Eminescu, was born here, as well as Nadia Comăneci, the first gymnast in history to be ever awarded a perfect score of 10.


Sheltered by the spectacular Carpathian Mountains natural fortress, Transylvania took its name from its luxurious woods; the Latin words “trans” [“beyond”] and “silva” [“forest”] designate the “country beyond the forests”. Together with Banat, Crișana and Maramureș, Transylvania reveals a lavish collection of late-medieval castles, Saxon fortified churches (out of which seven are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites), strong and austere peasant fortresses, towns with quaint and quiet streets, traditional communities and picturesque old villages. Yet the region is both rich in history and technologically advanced. Along with pristine scenery and refined urban landscapes, one of the many fortunes benefitting these four historic Romanian regions is the industrious and creative multi-ethnic population.


Dobrogea is cuddled between the Danube and the Black Sea. It is a magical place, bursting of history, both wet and dry, young and old, a territory where ethnic minorities live harmoniously since centuries, each group tapping into the others’ wide array of crafts, customs and traditions. The historic legacy of the ancient Greek and Roman cities of Pontus Euxinus gently trickled into the lineage of those who came here from all over, to trade on water and on land, to make wine and cheese, to grow grains and bees. Dobrogea harbours also the Danube Delta, the youngest Romanian land, a simultaneously generous and fragile chest of treasures, whose natural resources are perfectly attuned to the cultural ones, because the vibration of the place stems in the deep relationship between people and nature. The inhabitants of the Danube Delta, the best-preserved territory of its kind in Europe and the largest compact reedbed area on the planet, are acutely aware of the importance of preserving nature because they are intimately and critically dependent on it. This remote and almost isolated area is the most genuine representation of a man-made, responsible and long lasting cultural and natural ecosystem.


Bordered by the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube, this is a territory with rich soils, and an intense and restless history, mirroring its many names: Wallachia, Țara Românească, Muntenia. The province over which Vlad the Impaler reigned in the fifteenth century would succeed, by ruse, in 1859, to achieve the union of the two Romanian states: after the election of Alexandru Ioan Cuza as the ruler of Moldavia, the inhabitants of Wallachia decide to elect him as well, thus sealing the union with Moldavia. Here one can witness the “live fire”, a amazing natural phenomenon – a flame that springs from the earth, prompted by the release of natural gas. The Horezu pottery, expressive and crammed with ancient ritual significance, paves the way for the peasant artist Constantin Brâncuşi, who marked a watershed in the way we see art, the visionary sculptor who manages to marry the representation with the essence of the representation.