19:08 / 08.08.2021.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

306th Alka tilting tournament held in Sinj

Sinj Alka

Sinj Alka

Foto: Ivo Cagalj / PIXSELL

The 306th Alka tilting tournament was held in Sinj on Sunday. The tournament celebrates victory over Ottoman Turkish invaders on August 14th of 1715. The Alka is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage.

The Sinjska Alka is an equestrian competition that has been held in Sinj on the first Sunday in August every year since 1715. It commemorates a Croatian–Venetian victory in the Ottoman–Venetian war on August 14th, 1715 in which the local Christian population of around 700 Croats in cooperation with a smaller number of Venetians managed to defend Sinj against 60 000 Ottoman soldiers led by Mehmed-Paša Ćelić. Because of this victory, the Venetians retained control over Sinj and integrated it into Venetian Dalmatia in accordance to the terms of the Treaty of Passarowitz signed in 1718.

The people of Sinj believed that the Lady of Sinj had miraculously driven the Ottoman forces away, thus helping them to defend their town. On August 15th, the national holiday of the Assumption of Mary, in honor of the Lady of Sinj a procession through the city is organized, during which horsemen in full regalia, known as Alkari, parade a painting of Our Lady of Sinj throughout the streets.

The Alka itself is a competition in horsemen riding at full gallop aim their lances at a hanging metal ring known as the Alka, and are awarded points based on which sector of the ring they are able to pierce. In 2010, the Alka was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. The tournament is a major cultural event every year, but is also seen as a must attend event for top politicians. President Zoran Milanović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković were all on hand for this year’s running of the Alka.

However, this year's tournament has been limited due to restrictive coronavirus measures, which evoked some complaints from Sinj Mayor Miro Bulj: "Our service sector is facing a massive problem. Our youth are travelled across the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina to have a good time, and we have a problem regarding pilgrims wishing to observe the Assumption of Mary. Basically, the measures issued by the National Civil Protection Directorate have robbed us of everything, and it's not just the Alka, they plan on robbing us of the feast of the Virgin Mary."

"I don't see a problem here. Today the regime is such that more fans can be in the stands than last year. Last year no one had any complaints. After a year and a half, I think it's clear to everyone why cafes are closing at midnight, and that's everywhere, not just here in Sinj. If we have to review these basics again after eighteen months, then we might as well have been sleeping the entire time," responded Prime Minister Plenković.

Source: HRT

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