Croatia is a country of exceptional diversity and cultural events which take place throughout the year. There are music festivals, dance events, food fairs, art exhibitions, folklore and plays performed in historical locations, but only one event has been held annually since 1717.
The event is an equestrian tournament which takes place in Sinj, a small town near Split, which was seized by Turks who maintained control until 1686. Alka 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. Because of this victory, the Venetians retained control over Sinj and integrated it into the Venetian Dalmatia.
This historic horseback tournament is held the first Sunday in August since 1717. The competitors on horseback armed with an iron-tipped wooden lance aim to hit the inside of a metal ring, Alka, which consists of two iron circles joined by three bands so that the distance between circles is divided into three equal parts and a middle circle which is the smallest. The Alka is suspended on a 3.5 meter rope on the main road and the riders aim to hit the circle as they gallop full speed.
Although similar equestrian tournaments took place in many coastal towns, Sinjska Alka is the last remaining competition of its kind still being held in modern times and was entered into the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List in 2010.
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