Alka-related interesting facts

Triumphant Alkari who won the highest number of points (punti) hitting the central circle in all three races (u sridu)

  • 1866 – Petar Vuletić
  • 1887 – Nikola Cerinić
  • 1898 – Nikola Cerinić
  • 1899 – Nikola Cerinić
  • 1901 – Josip Ćatipović Ivanov
  • 1906 – Stipe Milun
  • 1931 – Stjepo Tripalo
  • 1948 – Dušan Romac
  • 1960 – Ante Milun Ivanov
  • 1963 – Dušan Jerkan
  • 2006 – Ante Poljak
  • 2009 – Ante Zorica

Most triumphant Alkari

The most triumphant Alkar has been Nikola Cerinić who won the Alka 12 times. He participated in the Alka Tournament in the 1867-1899 period. In the 1900-1935 period Nikola Jelinčić – Bećo won the Alka 8 times. The five-time Alka winners include: Jozo Boko in the 1914-1930 period, Janko Kelava in the 1961-1975 period, and Anđelko Vučković – Ako in the 1974-1996 period.

Highest – and – the lowest-number-of-points (punti) triumphant Alkari

In 1932 Nikola Jelinčić – Bećo managed to win the Alka only after the contestants with the same number of points (punti) had galloped again for five times (pripetavanje). On that occasion he collected 16 points (punti) in total. According to the Alka annals, it has been the best result up to the present day. The lowest-number-of-points victory was achieved by the Alkar Dušan Dinarina, who won the Alka in 1979 collecting only 5 points (punti).

Highest-number-of-performances Alkari:

The Alkar with the highest number of performances has been Ante Grabovac Ivanov. In the 1873-1926 period he participated in the Alka Tournament for 45 times and won it 4 times. The Alkari Stipe Milun and Nikola Jelinčić took part in the Alka for 43 times, which also makes a record number of performances.

Most triumphant living Alkari include:

  • Ognjen Preost, 5 times ( 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999)
  • Stipe Breko, 4 times (1977, 1980, 1982, 1988)
  • Joško Marić, 3 times (1978, 1990, 2000)

Alka and The Republic of Venice

The victory and heroism of the people of Sinj in the 1715 battle against the Ottomans were praised in Venice to the extent that the Venetian authorities had a painting of the battle of Sinj painted at the Doge's Palace in Venice.

Alka and Bajamonti

The distinguished Split polyhistor Julije Bajamonti (1744-1800) is the author of the oldest preserved written evidence of the Alka of Sinj.

Alka fascinates the Crown

In 1818, Emperor Francis I of Austria, accompanied by his wife Empress Caroline, paid a visit to Sinj. The Alka, the knights tournament of Sinj, was held on that occasion in honour of the Empress. The Emperor was delighted about the Alka to the extent that he decided that from then on the winner should be presented with the sum of 200 kroner from the Empire Treasury. It has been recorded that Francis I presented a valuable diamond ring to the then winner of the Alka. He also gave an imperial banner as present to the Alka Knights Tournament Society.

Alka – Frederick August – The Danica Ilirska

In 1838 the Alka was held honouring the visit of King of Saxony Frederick August II to Sinj. The King's attendant Johann Sartory noted in his diary that the King admired a deep attachment of the people of Sinj to the knights tournament of Alka as well as the high worth of the Tournament itself. In the same year, Sartory's record of the Alka of Sinj was translated by Ivan Mažuranić, a renowned Croatian writer and the ban of the people (ban pučanin). It was further published in the Danica Ilirska, the first Croatian literary journal.

Alka and Francis Joseph I

In 1908, on the occasion of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Emperor and King Francis Joseph's rule, the Alkari and the Alka squires were his guests at Vienna. Francis Joseph I was himself present at the Alka of Sinj during his 1875 visit to the Town. The then Alka was held solemnly in honour of his visit. In 1842 the solemn Alka was held honouring the visit of Francis Joseph's father, Archduke of Austria Francis Charles, to Sinj.

Alka and Dinko Šimunović

In 1908 the romantic narration Alkar, the author of which is the Croatian writer Dinko Šimunović, was published. Alkar has been the most authentic and famous work of literature dealing with the subject of the Alka of Sinj. It has further been translated into a number of world languages, into Chinese as well. Under the Ring title it was published in 1936 by the well-known Shanghai publisher Shangiru.

Alka and Stjepan Radić

The 1928 Alka ceremony was delayed due to the tragic event of the murder of Stjepan Radić, the leader of the Croatian people. Instead the Alkari attended the grand funeral of Stjepan Radić at Zagreb.

Alka and television

The first TV broadcast of the Alka Tournament took place in 1965. The commentator was the Sinj legendary and inimitable sports journalist Mladen Delić.

Alka and the Homeland War

In 1991, the Alkari and the Alka squires represented the only Croatian historical unit participating in the solemn review of the Croatian National Guard that took place on 28 May in Zagreb. That day has been celebrated as the day of the birth of the Croatian Armed Forces.

Alka and the Oktoberfest

In 1996, the Alkari of Sinj attended the opening of the Munich Oktoberfest, the world greatest folk festival.

Alka and Chicago

In 2006, on the occasion of the centennial celebration of The Dalmatian Family Society of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj gathering the Croatian expatriates in Chicago, the Alkari and the Alka squires participated in the traditional solemn procession down the streets of Chicago carrying the Image of their heavenly patroness, the Madonna of Sinj.

Other interesting details

  • Up until 1820 the Alka was held on the Shrove Tuesday.
  • Over its long history, the Alka was held in the presence of the sovereigns of the following countries: Austria (the Austria-Hungary), Saxony, the Yugoslavia and Romania.
  • Since 1863 the Town of Sinj Brass Band has been a participant of great importance as well as one of the symbols of the Alka ceremony.
  • In 1901, the guest of honour of the Alka of Sinj was Andrijica Šimić, the last renowned hajduk (a member of the group of historical bandits).
  • The most triumphant Alkar has been Nikola Cerinić who won the Alka 12 times. According to the original Alka statute, the Alkar has to be born in the Cetinska Krajina Region. Cerinić, however, by birth from the island of Brač, was allowed to participate in the Alka Tournament on the basis of domicile, i.e. due to the fact that he had lived in Sinj for 20 years.
  • In 1931, the Alka Tournament of Sinj was filmed by the American film-making company Fox Film for the purpose of their world-famous film journals.
  • British King Edward VIII and his fiancée Wallis Simpson were expected to attend the Alka of Sinj in 1936 as they were cruising along the Dalmatian coast at the time. On that occasion the people of Sinj made an effort to decorate the town with solemn ornaments. A separate section was further made in the Alka Tournament Course auditorium (Alkarsko trkalište). Sinj was crowded on that occasion with a number of world journalists and photojournalists whose interest was aroused by the then most famous love couple. But a last-minute cancellation of their visit to the town of Alka was made.
  • The Alkar opera was written in 1965 by the world-renowned conductor Oskar Danon, marking the 250th anniversary of the Alka of Sinj.
  • The heroic town of Vukovar, the symbol of Croatian defence in the Homeland War, has so far been the only town in Croatia that named a street after the Alka of Sinj.
  • In 1996, US President Bill Clinton was received by the Alkari and the Alka squires at Zagreb Pleso Airport. Then President of the Republic of Croatia Dr Franjo Tuđman presented the American guest with an Alkar old-fashioned pistol (kubura).
  • The Alka Tournament of Sinj was inscribed in 2010 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Text writer: Jakov Žižić