Croatia’s Alka Tournament of Sinj (Sinjska Alka)
Every August, in a place called Sinj, inland from Split, a medieval jousting tournament takes place. It’s called the Sinjska Alka (literally the Alka of Sinj) and is a tradition that has endured since 1717.
Rather than aiming their lances at each other as they gallop down the main street, the knights (called Alkars) aim for iron rings hanging on ropes. The event is named after these iron rings and is a word of Turkish origin. Participants must be members of local families and the whole community supports the tradition by, for example, making costumes and weapons. It has become a marker of local history and a medium for transferring collective memory from one generation to another.
The Sinjska Alka is the only remaining example of these historic competitions which were once held in most Croatian coastal towns. It’s included on the UNESCO’s representative list of non-material cultural heritage of mankind and soon there will be a museum to further preserve and explain the tradition.
Split county and the national government are sharing the funding of the museum and it is hoped that it will be ready for visitors for this year’s tournament. See the government's website link for more information on the museum and link to Unesco's Website for more information on the Alka itself.
Boris Ljubičić is the author of today’s photo which has been kindly provided by the Croatia Tourist Board.