Sinjska Alka Featured in
Sinjska Alka is a costumed equestrian competition that is held to commemorate the victory of a small Croatian-Venetian army over the outnumbered forces of the Ottoman empire in 1715. It takes place in the town of Sinj on the first Sunday of August. Sinjska Alka was inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists since it is the only remaining example of the medieval knightly competitions that were regularly held in Croatian coastal towns until the nineteenth century. It has become a marker of local history and a medium for transferring collective memories from one generation to the next.
During the competition horsemen ride at full gallop and aim their lances at a hanging metal ring which is called "alka". They get points depending on which sector of the ring they are able to hit. Bottom sections are worth 1 point, the top section is worth 2 points, and the central section is worth 3 points. Alka doesn't only mean the object used in the tournament, but it's also the name of the 160m long racecourse in the center of Sinj, where the competition is held.
Only men born in the city of Sinj and the surrounding area can participate in this authentic competition. It is considered a great honour to take part in Sinjska Alka. The most important and respected local men will be selected to become a vojvoda or commander of Alka. The costumes worn by participants resemble those of the 18th-century horsemen.
The tradition to hold the Sinjska Alka competition emerged in the early 18th century to continue knightly competitions that were held across the Venetian Dalmatia area. It is mentioned in the sonnets of Italian poet Julije Bajamonti, in 1784.