UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage.

Published in UNESCO

Croatia can boast of thirteen notable cultural events or sites that are inscribed in UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage, five of which are from the Split-Dalmatia County:

  • lace from the agave plant, as part of lacemaking in Croatia;
  • Hvar's ''Procession way of the Cross'';
  • Sinjska Alka;
  • Vrlika's silent circle dance;
  • vocal group singing.

Agave lace is made ​​in Croatia exclusively by nuns in the Benedictine monastery on and this skill, originally from the Canary Islands (Tenerife), has been present on Hvar since the mid-19th century. Lace is made from threads that are obtained from the middle of fresh agave leaves by a specific, painstaking process, and after treatment the threads are white, rather thin, and of specific strength and length.

The "Way of the Cross" procession is a unique rite of devotion and an expression of the religious and cultural identity of the inhabitants of the island of Hvar. It is a processional tradition that has endured for five centuries. On the night of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the procession connects 6 towns on the island: Pitve, Vrisnik Svirče, Vrbanj and Vrboska. Processions begin simultaneously from six parish churches (at 10 p.m.), led by the cross-bearer (the cross can weigh up to 18 kg), a symbol of pleading or gratitude, as a personal or family promise. The cross-bearer is followed by chosen accompaniment, wearing brotherhood tunics, and many others among the faithful and pilgrims. They stop in churches and chapels where they are welcomed by priests, and in the morning they return to their parish churches. The procession is remarkable for its duration and distance, over 8 hours and 25 kilometres.

Sinjska alka is a knight's tournament, in honour of the conquest over the Ottomans on August 14,1715. Since that time, the event has taken place on the first Sunday in August. During the contest the Tilters at the Ring, known as alkari, ride their horses down the race track at full gallop and try to hit an iron ring hanging on a rope with a spear.

Tournament rules promote fair play and emphasize the importance of participation in community life. Knights can only be virtuous citizens of Sinj and Cetinska krajina who were born there and to a family from Cetinska krajina. Sinjska Alka is the only surviving example of medieval knightly competitions that were regularly held in the Croatian coastal cities until the 19th century.

Vrlika silent circle dance is unique for its performance style, which is without musical accompaniment or independent of it when music exists. This music can be produced by the traditional instrument, diple, which are bellows, a type of bagpipe, or by a specific type of singing in small groups by 'shaking' voices, such as rera, ganga, ojkavica. It is only in the Dalmatian hinterland that the dance is performed in a circle that occasionally breaks into pairs or where the whole dance is performed with couples moving in a circle or dancing freely in the dance space.

Klapa (vocal group) singing is a traditional part of singing without accompaniment of instruments. The tradition of klapa singing and klapa songs as we know it today was formed in the mid-19th century, at a time when they profiled cultural and musical identities of Mediterranean cities on the coast and on the islands, especially in Dalmatia. Today, the word is most commonly associated with organized singing groups performing a specific 'a capella' repertoire of Dalmatian songs. Originally the melody was sung 'by ear,' with no leader, by simply first listening to it. Klapa's oldest model, the folk choir,was an informal group of singers who used to sing occasionally in order to primarily satisfy their love of singing. Oral traditions and the simplicity of musical expression, such as spontaneous singing, are the main characteristics of the klapa model. In recent decades, the klapa singing has undergone major changes and gained great popularity outside its cradle, Dalmatia.

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Split and Dalmatia County Tourist Board
Address: Prilaz braće Kaliterna 10/I, p.p. 430,
21000 Split, Croatia Phone/fax: +385(0)21 490 032, , 490 033, 490 036 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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