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Sinj

INLAND DALMATIA WITH A WHIFF OF MYSTERIOUS ORIENT

Sinj has something that calls me to come back again after every visit. It seems a bit mystical, located along the Sinjsko polje of the Cetina river valley and hidden in the lap of the slopes of the mighty mountains of Dinara and Svilaja in the north and Kamešnica in the northeast.

I have visited it several times so far, each time for different reasons and in a different company. Each visit was unique and in some ways special to me. I was lucky to meet Sinj really well thanks to two events, an educational trip organized for employees of the tourism sector and a town tour with a tourist guide organized by the Tourist Board of Sinj.

I experienced it in spring, fall and winter editions, while summer always eludes me. But I will have to visit it once in the summer too because I have a great desire to see the famous knight’s game, Sinjska Alka, which is held every year in August.

Sinj is a town that, like an old warrior, humble in its faith, lives today nurturing memories of a turbulent past in peaceful coexistence with beautiful nature.

LOCATION: Inland Dalmatia, ie Dalmatian Zagora, 30 km north of the city of Split in Central Dalmatia

THINGS I SAW AND DID IN SINJ

Sightseeing guided tour
The Museum of the Alka of Sinj
Archaeological collection of the Franciscan monastery Sinj
The silent circle dance
The Church of the Miraculous Lady
Buggy tour around Sinj
Traditional Sinj dish 'Arambaši'
Kamičak Fort
The oldest European football monument

“The Monument to an Alkar” by Stipe Sikirica

“The Church of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj”

CHECK OUT SINJ FUN FACTS, BLASTS FROM THE PAST, THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU

THE OLDEST FOOTBALL MONUMENT IN EUROPE –It is actually a tombstone from the beginning of the 2nd century of a seven-year-old Roman boy Gaius Laberius who holds a ball interspersed with hexagons. When I first heard that Sinj has the oldest football monument in Europe, it seemed to me that it was an inflated tourist story. But it really isn’t. A monument to the deceased boy was found in the former Roman military camp Tilurium, and in the present-day village of Gardun, only few kilometres from the town of Trilj. Today it is installed in a house in Sinj. The story goes that the version of today’s game we know as football in this area was played by the Illyrians, the tribe of Delmats even before the arrival of the Romans, and then the game was passed on to Roman soldiers and families of dignitaries. A monument or evidence similar to this has not been found anywhere else in the Roman Empire so the story of the oldest football-related monument really holds water. Somehow I’m sorry that it is not treated with more importance, that it’s not recognized enough from the state level because FIFA recognized it back in 1969.

 

UNESCO: SINJ KNIGHTS TOURNAMENT – SINJSKA ALKA – Sinjska Alka is a knights’ tournament held in Sinj since 1717 in memory of the victory over the Ottoman rule. It is the only example of tournaments that were mainly held in our coastal cities (Zadar, Makarska, Imotski) until the 19th century and has been included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage since 2010. Sinjska Alka is traditionally held every year, at the beginning of August, and Sinj is extremely visited at that time. The knights of Sinj do not compete against each other during this knightly competition. The goal is actually to take off the Alka with a spear riding at full gallop. The word alka is derived from the Turkish-Arabic word halqa meaning ring, hoop. In this case, it refers to a part of the saddle of the seized horse of the Ottoman supreme pasha Čelić, commander of the army of 60,000 soldiers that besieged Sinj in 1715. The rules of the game were established in 1833 by the Statute which prescribes fair play. Participants can only be family members from the area of ​​Sinj and Cetina region.

 

KAMIČAK FORT is a star-shaped fortress, built on the hill of the same name in 1712.
It was connected to the cavalry barracks, today Alkar Palace. The appearance of Kamičak dates back to 1890 when walls and pine trees were added. The tower of the fort served as an observatory. There is an unusual clock on it that seems to catch a run, so it rings three minutes before the full hour to tick the exact time on the full hour. There is another curiosity on the tower, a bronze bell. The bronze bell was cast in the foundry of the famous Italian Colbachini family, which Pope Leo XIII in 1898 gave the right to use the papal coat of arms. To this day, the Colbachini foundry is the only one to receive this honour. Kamičak is also the place where I first saw the performance of the Silent Circle Dance, the Silent Circle of Sinj, and I was completely delighted.

 

UNESCO: THE SILENT CIRCLE DANCE – As I come from the other part of Croatia where circle dances are different, loud and lively I was surprised by the silent circle dance. They dance without music and singing, and the only sound that can be heard is the touch of feet on the ground. As I have already noted, I was thrilled by the dancers and the folk costumes, and especially the rhythmic sound of dancers feet, the shuffling of the steps and the transfer of the dancers to the heights. Since 2011, the silent circle of the Inland Dalmatia has been on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. In different parts of the hinterland, it is also called a dumb, hollow or deaf wheel, according to the place where it is performed – the Vrlika, Sinj or Gata in Poljica.

MUSEUMS: SINJSKA ALKA, CETINSKA KRAJINA AND THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTION OF THE FRANCISCAN MONASTERY

MUSEUM ALKA OF SINJ – opened on the grand celebration of the 300th anniversary of Alka of Sinj on the 8th of August 2015. The museum exhibit contains beautiful old uniforms and equipment of Sinj Alkars, weapons, documentation such as Alkar statutes and regulations, old photographs and a very imposing Alkar procession made in life-size by Hrvoje Dumančić. The procession includes everything from pedestrians such as harambasha, squires, maces and horsemen, dukes, alkars, flag bearers … You can also watch a movie about Alka of Sinj, a virtual battle from 1715 and even play a video game, interesting for adults too, not just children. I play it every time, and I’ve been at least three times so far. The museum is modern and extremely interesting, I highly recommend a visit to this museum.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL COLLECTION OF THE FRANCISCAN MONASTERY in Sinj is also exceptionally interesting. Archaeological, paleontological, numismatic and ethnographic collections and a collection of church objects are kept and exhibited in the monastery. The current exhibition dates from 1982, and the collection was created thanks to Fr. Ante Konstantin Matas in the 19th century. It is one of the most valuable collections in Croatia, mostly thanks to the archaeological site Aequuema near the village of Čitluk near Sinj. The head of Heracles, the statue of Diana Lucifera, the remains of the statue of the goddess Diana, etc. are just some of the valuable exhibits of this collection.

MUSEUM OF THE CETINA REGION – located in a building that is also part of the Kamičak fortress. It was founded in 1956 for the purpose of researching and presenting the cultural and historical heritage of Sinj and the Cetina region. The museum includes an archaeological, numismatic, cultural-historical, ethnographic and natural history collection, as well as a collection of weapons, photographs and photographic accessories, documents, postcards, posters and an art collection in which the most represented artists are from the Cetina region. In the Museum you can learn a little more about Silent Circle Dance, ‘Didi from Kamešnica’ and Pottery from the village of Potravlje, which are protected cultural heritage of the Republic of Croatia.

 

THE BATTLE OF SINJ 1715 – In turbulent times, when foreign invaders took turns in these areas to the detriment of the local population, Sinj was first under Ottoman rule, from 1513 to 1686, and from 1686 under Venetian rule. Despite losing their supremacy, the Ottomans did not give up on trying again to conquer the town of Sinj. The most significant battle on this occasion was fought in 1715, when the ‘handful’ of the people of Sinj, left at the mercy of the war, fought for their own survival against thousands and thousands of Ottoman soldiers. More precisely, 700 people from Sinj defended their homes against the Ottoman army of 60,000 soldiers.

 

 

MIRACULOUS LADY OF SINJ – Sinj is one of the largest Croatian Marian shrines. On the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, many pilgrims from all over the region come to Sinj on foot. At 9.30 am, on that day, a picture of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj from the church of the same name is taken to a solemn procession through the city.

The painting of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj, by an unknown author, dates from the 15th or 16th century and was brought to Sinj by the friars from Rama. It is painted on canvas, size 58 x 44 cm. The coronation of the Lady’s figure took place a year after Sinj was believed to have been liberated from the Ottomans with her help. The soldiers and their commanders collected 80 gold coins, of which Our Lady’s crown was made in Venice.

The painting is kept in the church of the same name, also known for the relief door made by Stipe Sikirica.

GASTRONOMY – The most famous dish of the Cetina region is definitely the Arambases of Sinj (in Croatian Sinjski arambaši or arambašići). It is a very similar dish to another Croatian favourite dish sarmaArambases differs from sarma because there is no rice, the meat is finely chopped instead of minced and slightly more exotic spiced. Arambases were named after harambasha, and the word harambasha came from the Turkish words harami (robbery) and başi (commander). The preparation of the traditional Sinj dish Arambaši is on the List of Protected Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia.

“Detail of Sinj men’s folk costume”

“The View of the Old Town”

Things left to do next time:  – Walk to the Old Town located on the hill above Sinj, visit the Sikirica Gallery and watch the Sinj Alka live

SINJ IN A NUTSHELL

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Traditional Cuisine: What to Eat in Sinj Apart from Arambases of Sinj, a dish prepared from beef and sauerkraut, Sinj's gastronomy also offers other meat dishes characteristic of the Inland Dalmatia. A big note for meat lovers: in the Inland Dalmatia you will not be disappointed with the quality of the meat. The people of Sinj will be also happy to offer dishes related to the river Cetina made from Cetina trout, frogs, crabs and their traditional dessert, Sinj ravioli. The rich history in Sinj has managed to unite the spirit of the Mediterranean, the Orient and continental cuisine into one truly special whole.
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Excursions in Sinj: Outdoor activites Of all the activities, I chose to tour the area by buggy. It was a lot of fun, primarily thanks to the driver and guide Nikola, a native of Sinj, who of course knows the Sinj area like the back of his hand. At one point we would be at the top of the hill enjoying the view of Sinj field, and at the next, we would drive down the Cetina river, through the karst and mud, passing a flock of sheep and the surrounding villages. As this area is related to horses, in addition to off-road tours, hiking, biking, water sports and flying, Sinj equestrian clubs offer a riding school and therapeutic riding services.
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Accommodation For all who would like to spend a few days in Sinj, the town offers accommodation in a 3 * hotel, private accommodation and holiday homes.
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Cultural Heritage Sights in Sinj In addition to the already listed museums and monuments, I would also mention Sinj's sculptures, fountains and buildings. ``At the spring`` is the first publicly placed sculpture in Sinj, by Stipe Sikirica. The “Alkar Monument”, the work of the same artist, is located at the beginning of the Alkar Racecourse, the place from which the Alkars gallop on horseback. ``Three Generations``, the work of Ivo F. Grčić, is located in the center of the City Park. To the votive church in the City, stretches the Way of the Cross with stations where the works of famous Croatian sculptors. I must also mention the bust of Dinko Šimunović made by my favourite sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Sinj is also adorned with two fountains from the 19th century, the Fountain on the Pjaca and the Petrovac Fountain, which is supplied by water from the Miletin spring.

GREETINGS FROM SINJ

Photo is emotion captured in time. See and feel the world you look at.

SINJ SURROUNDINGS. NATURE AND CULTURE.

izvor cetine

I have explored the town of Sinj in great detail, but there is always something left to try and see. Once one door opens, it simply takes you to the others. One of these doors, the Sinj door, in this case, is its surroundings – the Cetina region.

First and foremost I must mention the SOURCES OF THE CETINA RIVER which are located near the town of Vrlika. As I live at the imposing mouth of this beautiful river for more than twenty years, its sources do not lag behind in all its grandeur and beauty. There are several springs of the river Cetina, but the most famous is Glavaš, also called Milaš source. I had the opportunity and honour to meet the natural heritage of the Sinj area such as the significant landscapes of the tributaries of the Cetina River, Sutina and Rumin. Thanks to numerous rivers, this area abounds in their springs, but also in numerous old mills, some of which are still working.

Natural heritage is extremely rich, and cultural heritage does not lag far behind. The construction of the Cetina nave is on the list of intangible heritage of the Republic of Croatia, a cramped well made of dry stone walls, numerous centuries-old churches, fortifications and rural architecture should be a sufficient reason to visit Sinj and its surroundings. The nearby towns that are waiting to be explored are Vrlika and Trilj.

You can find out more about Sinj on the Sinj Tourist Board page www.visitsinj.com/hr

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