Sinjska alka

For more than three centuries, the town of Sinj has been home to the knightly game known as the Alka of Sinj, which is held according to strictly defined rules and with participants dressed in historical costumes, equipped with historical equipment and weapons. It is organised in memory of the glorious victory of the knights of Sinj over the Ottoman army in 1715, when they managed to miraculously defend themselves against the siege of an enemy that outnumbered them several times. The Alka is also run in honour of the Virgin Mary, who is believed to have saved the town during these hard times. It is held once a year, on the first Sunday in August (but only if this allows all three competitions, the Bara, Čoja and Alka to be held in August) and only in Sinj. Since its establishment, it has been held at the same place – the Alkars’ Racecourse.

For three hundred years, the Alka has served as the ethical yardstick against which the people of the Cetina region have measured their pride of their heritage and knightly spirit, as well as an impetus for competing in nobility and integrity, and they jealously safeguard this living tradition to ensure that heroism of their forefathers is never forgotten. Over the many centuries of its existence, the Alka embedded itself in the hearts of the local people and become an essential element of their way of life, a source of pride and a fountain of inspiration and creativity.

In the Alka competition, the alkar rides in full gallop, with his feet deep in the stirrups and without lifting from the saddle, and tries to hit the alka (a ring with four sections – striking one of them brings one, two or three points) with his spear. The winner of the Alka is the alkar who collects the most points during the competition. After the Alka is over, the winner proudly carries the Croatian tricolour flag through the town on his spear, and the people of Sinj and the Cetina region celebrate his victory all year.

Read more at Alka Knights Society