Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageCroatia past, present, future: Josipovic, Gotovina at Sinj Alka

By Paul Bradbury     Aug 5, 2013 in Travel
Sinj - Some of Croatia's leading public figures congregate in the historic town of Sinj for the first Alka tournament since joining the EU.
Some of the top figures in Croatian society, including President Ivo Josipovic and war hero General Ante Gotovina attended the 298th Alka knights' tournament in the historic Dalmatian town of Sinj on August 4, 2013, an event also attended by Digital Journal in sweltering heat.
The tournament, which has been held on the first Sunday in August every year since the defeat of the Ottomans at the Siege of Sinj in 1715, had an extra edge this year, as it was the first time the Alka tournament was held with Croatia as a member of the EU, the first which hosted the free general after Gotovina's acquittal from The Hague last year, as well as this year's tournament held on the eve of the emotive Croatian public holiday, Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day.
Part of the welcoming committee at the VIP reception before the Alka tournament.
Part of the welcoming committee at the VIP reception before the Alka tournament.
As previously reported on Digital Journal, the Alka is the third and final day of a UNESCO-protected knights' tournament, in which skilled horsemen with lances in full traditional dress pit their skills against their fellow horsemen to a packed crowd of the local population and national dignitaries to hit a small metal ring called an alka which is hanging in the middle of the track.
The Alka Courtyard was busy with horse preparations.
The Alka Courtyard was busy with horse preparations.
The ring, or alka, consists of two concentric iron circles joined by three bars, so that the distance between the circles is divided into three equal parts. The central circle, which is the smallest, is worth three points (punat), the upper field two points, and the two lower fields one point wach. The knight - the Alkar - charges at full gallop at the alka with an iron-tipped lance. The winner of the Alka is the one who wins the highest number of points (punti) in the three races.
The crowd parted and there he was - Croatia s most popular man  General Ante Gotovina.
The crowd parted and there he was - Croatia's most popular man, General Ante Gotovina.
Although there was a significant increase in the number of tourists this year, Alka is predominantly a local affair, with national importance, and the dressing up of the participants has little to do with tradition and more to do with the celebration of a proud heritage. As a showcase for the potential of inland Croatia - UNESCO heritage, sport, history, tradition and gastronomy - there is perhaps no finer advertisement.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic was in good chair and happy to meet with people.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic was in good chair and happy to meet with people.
The town was awoken by cannon fire early in the morning, and a procession followed the early morning mass, before the dignitaries assembled at the Alka courtyard for a welcoming drink.
President Josipovic looks on as the press focuses on General Ante Gotovina.
President Josipovic looks on as the press focuses on General Ante Gotovina.
President Josipovic was on good form and happy to chat to those present. The president is a popular politician in Croatia, but even he has to take back stage when General Gotovina is in town - the general was applauded wherever he went and was the centre of attention for the visiting press.
General Ante Gotovina receives an award at Alka 2013 in Sinj.
General Ante Gotovina receives an award at Alka 2013 in Sinj.
Gotovina stepped forward to collect an award from the Alka Association.
Klapa Sinj performed for the dignitaries.
Klapa Sinj performed for the dignitaries.
One of Croatia's best acapella groups, Klapa Sinj, performed traditional songs for the assembled guests.
Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic made the trip down from the capital.
Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic made the trip down from the capital.
After that it was time for the short walk down the hill to the Alka race, with Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic among those making the short journey.
An impressive parade of the event participants preceded the competition.
An impressive parade of the event participants preceded the competition.
The crowd was treated to a spectacular display of pomp, uniform and exceptional equestrian skill.
2015 will see the 300th anniversary of this proud tradition.
2015 will see the 300th anniversary of this proud tradition.
There was a magnificent procession through the track before each of the three rounds by the 17 horsemen, or alkari.
A young Digital Journalist practising her paparazzi skills.
A young Digital Journalist practising her paparazzi skills.
A young Digital Journalist of the future took some of the best pictures...
A winner is announced - Ante Zorica  now a three-time winner.
A winner is announced - Ante Zorica, now a three-time winner.
In a thrilling finish, two-time winner Ante Zorica lanced the magic cente circle of the alka for the second time in his three attempts, thereby winning the 2013 Alka with an impressive seven points.
Ante Zorica won his third Alka with an impressive seven points
Ante Zorica won his third Alka with an impressive seven points
Sinj Tourist Board
And then the party really began, with perhaps even more festivities than usual given the public holiday the following day. The small historical town of Sinj, population 12,000 and suddenly in the international spotlight, put on a show to be proud of late into the night - a wonderful and unique experience, and a small window into the secrets of one of Europe's most undiscovered and fascinating regions, just half an hour from the beach. To learn more about Sinj, Digital Journal spent the day there earlier this year - read about it here.
The party went on late into the night in Sinj in 2013
The party went on late into the night in Sinj in 2013
Nikola Belancic
More about Croatia, sinj alka, alka 2013
More news from