ABOUT AND HISTORY!
The Sinjska alka is an equestrian competition held in the Croatian town of Sinj every first Sunday in August since 1717. It commemorates a Croatian Venetian victory over Ottomans on August 14, 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 the Venetian Dalmatia, according to the terms of the Treaty of Passarowitz signed in 1718. The people of Sinj believe that the Lady of Sinj miraculously drove away Ottomans, thus helping them to defend their town. On the national holiday of the Assumption of Mary (Velika Gospa) on August 15, in honor of Lady of Sinj, a procession is organised, during which horsemen in full regalia (“Alkari”) parade a painting of Our Lady of Sinj throughout the town streets.
The Alka itself is an equestrian competition in which various horsemen riding at full gallop aim their lances at a hanging metal ring (alka), and are awarded points according to which sector of the ring they are able to pierce. In 2010, the Alka was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Alka is also the name of the object used in the tournament; it is made of two concentric rings (diameter of inner being 35.1 mm, and 131.7 mm of outer one) connected with three bars 120° apart. The object is hung on a rope 3.32 metres above the race track. The contestant (called an alkar) rides his horse down the race track and tries to hit the central ring of the alka with his spear in full gallop. 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 its holder 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, thus increasing the maximum to 6 points in one run. The contest consists of three rounds.
Alka is an individual equestrian competition in which at least 11 and at most 17 Alkars can participate. The Alkar, a rider on horseback, has to pass the racecourse length 160 m in full gallop in 12 seconds and try to hit the center of a small iron ring called Alka. The Alka is at 3.32 m height, measured from its center to the ground. The Custodian of the Alka (Najmeštač Alke) and his assistant have the responsibility for the proper placement and height of the Alka; the Custodian steadies the pendant ring with a 3.22 m long stick and simultaneously controls the height of it, while his assistant tightens the rope on which the ring hangs.