The town Sinj lies in the north-western edge of the Sinj field, in the Cetina river valley, at the foot of an old fortress, in Dalmatian hinterland, about thirty kilometres away from the sea.
It is an area inhabited since the Neolithic, and in ancient times two important sites were in its vicinity, the Roman town Colonia Claudia Aequum, at today’s village Čitluk, a town set by Roman standards, carrying the name of its founder emperor Claudius in its title.
Among other important monuments there is a famous statue of Hecate (or Diana) and Heracles head, kept in the Archaeological Collection of the Franciscan Monastery of Sinj. At the southernmost edge of the Sinj field lies Trilj, named after the former Tilurium (Pons Tilurii), situated at the locality of today’s Gardun, once the seat of the Roman VII Legion, and later of the auxiliary units.
In the north-western part of that green sea, in the shadow of Visoka Mountain, under the old fortress simply called The Town by the locals, there is Sinj, a beautiful little town immersed in the green area, hardly giving evidence that once it was the scene of bitter battles and suffering.
At the very entrance to the town, coming from the direction of Split, there is a barely visible little bridge over the dried stream Goručica, that the locals call, with their characteristic sense of humour, Big Bridge. Close to the bridge there is the Mark (Biljeg), the starting position from where, every year in August, alkars (knights) run on horseback along a course bordered by thick chestnut trees to hit the alka ring by a spear. The people of Sinj call that tournament course simply the Alka course.
It is not known when exactly when the Croats arrived in the Cetina region, but the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, from the 10th century, in his well known work De Administrando Imperio (On the Administration of the Empire) mentions the Cetina Administrative Unit as one of the oldest Croatian counties covering the area around the middle part of the Cetina river, around the Sinj field.
Although the town Sinj, in the form of “castrum Frini”, is mentioned relatively late in the Middle Ages, in 1341, and also in the agreement between the king Ludovic and Ivan Nelipić from 1345, as “castrum regale Zyn”, its age is much older.
Coming from the direction of Split, after having passed the barren landscape of Dugopolje and Dicmo and arrived at the bend near Kukuzovac, a traveller can suddenly see a vast field criss-crossed by canals, covered by plough-fields and pastures, mottled by the rows of willow and poplar trees. In the distance, in the summer haze, below the bluish mountain, one can possibly see the glimpse of the river Cetina. The tameness of that region immediately enchants the traveller accustomed to the rocky wilderness of the inner Dalmatia, where it is easier to imagine geological than human history.
Indeed, it is hard to resist the magical attraction of this landscape in which the newcomer at the same time senses the nearby sea left behind and the vicinity of Bosnian dark vilayet, the bustle of the Mediterranean and the magic of Orient, just behind the first mountain.