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Croatian Annual Knights Festival - Sinjska Alka

Croatian Annual Knights Festival - Sinjska Alka

The “Sinjska Alka” is a competition that takes place in Sinj every year at the beginning of August. Alka in Sinj began in the second decade of the 18th century, but the date of the event changed, and today it is held on the first Sunday in August. Competitors, riding on horses, throw spears at a small metal ring, Alka, suspended above the racetrack.

History of Sinjska Alka

Every year, the small town Sinj hosts a tournament commemorating the Croatian victory over the Ottoman Empire. It was a very uneven battle with a massive difference in the number of soldiers on each side. Still, the courage of the fewer local army composed only of 700 men, was greater than the powerful 60,000 Ottoman soldiers led by Mehmed-paša Ćelić. People believe that this incredible victory was a miracle brought to them with the help of the  Virgin Mary, in the advocation of our Lady of Sinj.  The local army left 10,000 men dead in the battle camp and said they had seen a lady in a shining halo in several places.

The Rules of Sinjska Alka

To show their devotion and gratitude,  every August 15th, the day of the Assumption of The Virgin, Sinj holds a procession with men on horseback dressed in full regalia (Alkari) parading around the town. The day finishes with the knights’ festival:

  • The object of the contest is that the Knight (Alkar) rides their horse down the track and tries to hit a ring called the Alka with his spear. 
  • The target hangs on a rope in the middle of the race track. 
  • Depending on which part of the Alka he hits, he receives from 1 to 3 points, and no points if he misses. 
  • If, however, the Alkar sends the Alka in the air away from his rival and hits any part of it on its way down, he will be awarded 1-3 points for a target hit and an additional three points, increasing the maximum to 6 points in one run. 
  • The contest consists of three rounds.

Sinj, Croatia

A small, but charming town Sinj offers plenty of nature's beauty to behold; including lush fruit-filled fields and lofty hilltops. Within this natural wonderland, however, lies the town center with a welcoming environment.

The Church of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj stands proudly in the town square. It was built from 1699 to 1712 and draws many visitors each year. Sinj contains two impressive fortresses: the Kamičak Fort, a prominent symbol for this city, and remnants of the old fortress that rises on a rocky hill above the old Illyrian Orsinium.

Old Town houses remnants of the old fortress that the people of Sinj simply call The Town. The fortress once harbored both townspeople and soldiers during Turkish invasions, sheltered the weak and resisted invaders.

At The Spring - Located in Old Town you can see a wonderful sculpture created by artist Stipe Sikirica called The Girl Drinking Water from The Spring. Don’t miss the Gaius Laberius - a monument that pays tribute to an ancient Roman boy who once played his favorite sport, soccer, in this very area over 2,000 years ago!

If you’re interested in the knights festival, visit the Alka museum - This museum doesn't just provide quality exhibitions and state-of-the-art technology. You'll see a variety of uniforms, gear and weapons once owned by the Alkars of Sinj here. Figures made out of stone or metal stand alongside statues represented in digital form to give visitors some background information on Croatian history!

Before You go to Sinjska Alka, Try a Taste of Croatia with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Selo Olive Oils!

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