Alka of Sinj has borne witness to unique history

Every year, at the first August weekend, the streets of Sinj become a living display of revived history of the small town and the Cetinska Krajina Region. As the Region's greatest wealth is its history, its revival is not reduced to a mere imitation of ancient times. Both history and its revival are unique and authentic. The Knights Tournament of Alka has been the embodiment of a local history.

The Alka phenomenon has been a creation of and the legacy passed on by the Region's splendid history. It is a ″document″ witnessing the past of a part of historical Croatia, the borderland between the Ottoman Empire and The Republic of Venice, Islam and Christianity, the Orient and the West sharing the good and bad. We have learnt the wars, battles, martyrs as well as other misfortunes that the Region met with as a result of the touch of these two civilisations. Little is known, however, about an ennobling influence of the civilisations on the domestic culture, the result of which has been of unique cultural-historical prominence in the world. The Alka Tournament has witnessed it first-hand.

The Alka of Sinj has served as valuable proof that desolation is not the only necessary effect of the touch of civilisations. Indeed, the Alka owes its uniqueness and wealth of substance to adaptability and intercompatibility of diverse cultures. Unique and thrilling age-old qualities of the Alka – the nature of the knights tournament itself, its setting, attires, arms – have been reflected in harmony of the interpenetration of various cultural influences.

The Alka Tournament of Sinj is not a celebration of one's culture superiority in relation to another. On the other hand, it was instituted in appreciation of the Virgin Mary's help during defence of Sinj, but not as a deed of triumphalism. Since cultural exclusivism has not been a feature of the Alka of Sinj, the Tournament's oriental component has established its importance as a historical ″document″ of value.

History of the Cetinska Krajina Region has been more than a history of the division between civilisations though marked by wars and heroes. It has further been a history of the meeting of cultures as well as their interpenetration and ennoblement. The Alka of Sinj is a monument, but also the last living remnant of that unique history. Hence the revival of history in Sinj has been an event of distinctive character – history here is the Alka Tournament of Sinj.

Text writer: Jakov Žižić