Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj

Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Croatia



Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj

The Sinjska Alka is a chivalric tournament that takes place annually, as it has since the 18th century, in the town of Sinj, in the Cetinska krajina region. During the contest, knights ride horses at full gallop along a main street, aiming lances at an iron ring hanging on a rope. The name of the tournament derives from this alka or ring, a word whose Turkish origin reflects the historical co-existence and cultural exchange between two different civilizations. The tournament rules, codified in a 1833 statute, promote ethics and fair play, and stress the importance of participation in community life. Participants must be members of local families of Sinj and the Cetinska krajina region. The whole community helps to make, conserve, restore and reconstruct weapons, clothes and accessories to support the continuation of the tradition. The tournament is also entwined with local religious practices, social gatherings, family visits and festivities at home and in the open air. The Sinjska Alka is the only remaining example of the medieval knightly competitions that were regularly held in the Croatian coastal towns until the nineteenth century. It has become a marker of local history and a medium for transferring collective memory from one generation to another.


Decision 5.COM 6.47

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: The nomination demonstrates the continuity of the Sinjska Alka and its contribution to local identity as well as its promotion of respect for cultural diversity;
  • R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage at local, national and international levels;
  • R.3: Current efforts to protect and promote the Sinjska Alka are outlined in the nomination, and the proposed safeguarding measures, fully supported by the State and community concerned, have clear objectives and concrete plans;
  • R.4: The community participated in drafting the nomination, submitted photos and videos, and offered suggestions regarding safeguarding measures; their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
  • R.5: The Sinjska Alka was inscribed in May 2007 in the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia maintained by the Ministry of Culture.



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