Unknown to the thousands of tourists flocking every summer to Dalmatian coast and just ten minutes’ drive from Split is the entrance to the magical terra incognita. Surrounded with mountains Svilaja, Dinara and Kamesnica and with river Cetina passing through karstic field, this region offers great opportunities for a day tour garnished with breathtaking views and hardy but delicious local food.
River Cetina, author Ponor, source:Wikimedia Commons
Whether you enjoy active or more serene way to spend your vacation you will find that here you can take your pick from numerous activities that are instored for you. Also, local cultural heritage should not be missed while visiting this beautiful region.
Map of Roman settlements in Dalmatia
People inhabited this part of Dalmatian Hinterland since the Mesolithic. First know settlers were Illyrians and the tribe of Delamti, that populated this entire region. The Romans invaded in the middle of the second century BC and after some 150 years of fighting finally defeated the Delmats. All throughout the history this region found itself on a border of great empires and it was always considered as a doorway from Mediterranean coast towards inland that was rich with ores and timber.
Greater urban centers of this region are towns of Sinj and Trilj.
Best known as a town of Alka and one of the largest Marian pilgrimage sites in Croatia, Sinj is the heart of this mini region also known as Cetinska krajina.
Panoramic view of Sinj
Situated some 30 minutes-drive from Split, Sinj is ideal for a day tour and spending a day in a picturesque small town and almost untouched nature away from crowded tourist centers on the coast.
What to see in Sinj?
If you are planning to visit Sinj the best time to visit and see it in its s full splendor are two first weeks in August. During that time knight`s tournament called Alka is being held and Assumption of Virgin Mary, towns celestial protector, is celebrated.
View from the Sinj Town Fort
These two celebrations are inextricably connected since Alka commemorates heroic victory for people of Sinj against the Ottomans in 1715. and Virgin Mary is celebrated for coming to their aid in their hour of need and helping them vanquish the conquerors.
Alka is traditionally held in the first weekend of August and it lasts 3 days. The tournament starts on Friday with competing for Bara followed by competing for Coja on Saturday and on Sunday the main event, Alka, starts with Alka Knights procession.
Name Alka originates from Turkish word halqa meaning ring or hoop. Rules of the Alka is quite simple. Competitors, called Alkar, has to ridding on horseback in full gallop try to hit the metal ring (alka) with a spear. Suspended over the racetrack, 3,32 meters above the ground, alka is divided into two concentric circles that are joined by 3 bars. The central circle is the smallest and hitting it Alkar wins 3 points. Hitting upper field brings 2 and hitting lower fields brings 1 point to the Alkar.
Alka tournament in Sinj, author: PJL, source: Wikimedia Commons
Each competitor runs 3 times and whoever wins more points is the winner. If two or more Alkar`s has the same number of points they continue to compete until one of them wins. Rules of Alka also dictates that only honorable and honest men born in Cetinska Krajina can become Alkars and can participate in the Alka tournament.
Since 2010. Alka is registered at UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List in Europe.
Day tour to Sinj should most definitely include a visit to Museum of Alka where you can see and learn all about the history one of the Europe oldest knight tournaments that is continuously being held since 1715.
Museum of Sinjska Alka
Museum of Cetinska Krajina
Museum of Cetinska Krajina is home of a magnificent cultural and historical heritage of the region. It was established in 1956. and today it includes various museum collection such as archeological, numismatic and ethnographic collections that vividly depicts the life in this region.
Right next to the museum Fortress Kamicak towers over the Sinj on which the town watch is placed.
While visiting Sinj be sure to stop by the Church of the Miraculous Madonna of Sinj that dominates the town main square, climb on to Old Town fortress from where you can observe a panoramic view over the Sinj and its surroundings.
Sanctuary of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj
Also, while walking the streets of this charming town you will notice a tombstone installed on the house façade in Vrlicka street.
Tombstone of Gaius Laberius, Sinj
Tombstone depicts a young boy, Gaius Laberius, and he is holding a small lather ball. The ball is very similar to today`s football ball and it is considered that football was playing in Cetinska Krajina since the early 2ndcentury AD. This tombstone was found on archeological site at Gardun, near Trilj.
What to do in Sinj?
Cycling, hiking and horse riding are just several activities you can find in Sinj.
Horse ridding, source: Pixabay
But if you are a fan of active or even extreme type of vacation you come to the right place. For all adrenaline lovers Sinj offer a multitude of activities you can partake in. There are couple of paintball and airsoft courts, lots of mountaineering trails, quad routes and rafting on river Cetina and even skydiving and paragliding tours.
Piket airport near Sinj, author KRILLOE, source: Wikimedia Commons
From a small airport near Sinj, Piket, you can book a sky tour and get the birds eye view on over this region and Dalmatian coast.
What to eat in Sinj?
Due to its position, Sinj and the surrounding area, developed a somewhat unique cuisine. In traditional dishes that are being prepared here you will find the influence of Oriental (Ottomans) and Mediterranean (Venetian) cuisine.
Prosciutto & cheese
Most iconic dish prepared in Sinj are Arambasi. Chopped meat in which spices are added is rolled in sour cabbage leaves and then cooked.
In Sinj you will also have the opportunity to try out cray fish and Cetina trout and in nearby town of Trilj frogs are served as a local delicacy.
Traditional pastry in Sinj is Rafioli and if you have the chance be sure to try some.
Trilj is situated on the banks of Cetina River some 40 minutes’ drive northeast from Split. The town of Trilj was founded near Roman military camp Tilurium on Gardun hill above modern day town.
Cetina River near Trilj, author: Daniel Loncar, source: Wikimedia Commons
What to see in Trilj?
Except beautiful and almost untouched nature a day tour to Trilj should definitely include a visit to Trilj Regional Museum and archeological site Tilurium.
Trilj Regional Museum
Trilj Regional Museum
Trilj Regional Museum safeguards an abundance of archeological findings dating back to the Neolithic. Museum exhibition consist of Ancient Collection which among other includes the findings from Roman military camp, Tilurim, Prehistoric Collection with findings dating back to the Neolithic, Middle Ages Collections, Numismatic Collection and Ethnographic Collection.
Equipment of Austro-Hungarian soldier from World war I,Trilj Regional Museum
Most famous archeological site is definitely Roman military camp Tilurium that dates back to the beginning of first century AD. Situated just 5 minute-drive from center of town Tilurium archeological site offers a small glimpse into the period of over 2000 years ago. Next to the camp you will also find a reconstructed road that was a part of regional network of roads that crisscrossed the Roman province of Dalmatia.
Findings from Tilurium, Trilj Regional Museum
Medieval forts of Nutjak and Cacvina are also an excellent stopping points while visiting Trilj.
Cacvina Fortress, author Brian Eager, source: Wikimedia Commons
They offer amazing view over the Cetina River canyon and the surrounding area. We recommend visiting these sites as a part of a cycling or hiking tours.
What to do in Trilj?
The best way to explore Trilj and its surrounding is on bicycle or hiking. There are several bicycle and hiking routes you can choose from. Whether you are looking for a pleasant bicycle cruising along the countryside or adrenaline fused paths that are ideal for those seeking more active vacation you will find that cycling routes around Trilj will fulfill everyone’s wishes.
Hiking, source: Pixabay
Other activities you can partake in are canyoning, rafting or kayaking in river Cetina, quad driving on the slopes of surrounding mountains, horse riding, mountaineering or hiking.
What to eat in Trilj?
Getting pretty hungry after spending all day on the fresh air is to be expected. Luckily you do not have to go far in order to have a hardy meal after all day exploring the beautiful surrounding.
Trilj boast with somewhat unusual delicacy, frogs! Frog stew is very popular and we highly recommend trying it. Also, fried frog legs are also an absolute must. Crabs from river Cetina is prepared in most of the cuisines of Trilj region. There are several wineries in the area that offers locally prepared food accompanied with excellent wines which makes it a perfect closure for a day tour.
Where to stay?
For a luxury vacation during your vacation, we recommend Villa Storia with Pool, near Split. This modern holiday home can accommodate up to 12 guests. Location of the villa, near speedway and close to marina makes it an excellent starting point for your planned day tours or island hopping.
Villa Storia with Pool
We hope that this little guide will entice you to plan a day tour to Split Hinterland and explore the cultural and culinary richness of this region. We can hardly wait for you to share your experience with us.