The Alka Tournament of Sinj
Today the Alka of Sinj is a unique knightly tournament in Europe held every year in August only in Sinj, a small town of inland Dalmatia. The oldest known written mention of the Alka of Sinj dates from 1784. These are three sonnets and an ode written in Italian language by a doctor and musician from Split, Julije Bajamonti. The oldest official document is a letter written on February 10th 1798 by count Raimund Thurn, the first Austrian commissioner for newly occupied regions, sent from Zadar to that-time commander of Sinj, Colonel Jakov Grabovac. The year 1818 is very important in the history of Alka. In that year, on the way through Dalmatia, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I visited Sinj, when the local people organized a ceremonial Alka.
The Alka Tournament of Sinj (Sinjska alka) is traditional equestrian competition in which the knights (alkars) on horseback, in full gallop, holding a three metres long spear, try to spear the iron ring, alka hanging on a rope across the racecourse. The Alka ring is made of wrought iron, consisting of two concentric rings with a joint centre. The rings are mutually connected with three bars going from one ring to the other and dividing the space between the two rings into three equal parts. The hit into the little central ring ("u sridu") brings three points, into the upper part two points, and the hit into one of two lower parts brings one point.
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