Open main menu

Ferhat Pasha Mosque (Bosnian: Ferhat-pašina džamija, Turkish: Ferhad Paşa Camii), also known as the Ferhadija Mosque, is a central building in the city of Banja Luka and one of the greatest achievements of Bosnia and Herzegovina's 16th century Ottoman Islamic architecture in Europe. The mosque was demolished in 1993 at the order of the authorities of Republika Srpska,[2] and was rebuilt and opened on 7 May 2016.[3][4]

Ferhat Pasha Mosque
NKD138 Ferhadija2.jpg
Ferhadija Mosque
LocationBanja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Geographic coordinates44°46′02.69″N 17°11′14.44″E / 44.7674139°N 17.1873444°E / 44.7674139; 17.1873444Coordinates: 44°46′02.69″N 17°11′14.44″E / 44.7674139°N 17.1873444°E / 44.7674139; 17.1873444
Architect(s)unknown (apprentice of Mimar Sinan)
StyleOttoman architecture
Minaret height41, 65 m [1]

Commissioned by the Bosnian Sanjak-bey Ferhat-paša Sokolović, the mosque was built in 1579[5] with money that, as tradition has it,[6] were paid by the Auersperg family for the severed head of the Habsburg general Herbard VIII von Auersperg and the ransom for the general's son after a battle at the Croatian border in 1575, where Ferhat-paša was triumphant.[7]

The mosque with its classical Ottoman architecture was most probably designed by a pupil of Mimar Sinan. There is no written data about the builders who erected the mosque, but from analysing its architecture it appears that the foreman of the works was from Sinan's school since the mosque shows obvious similarities with Sinan's Muradiye mosque in Manisa, which dates from 1585.[8]

Architectural ensembleEdit

The ensemble of the Ferhadija mosque consisted of the mosque itself, the courtyard, a graveyard, the fountain, 3 mausoleums ("turbes") and the surrounding wall with the gate. The original canopied wall was pulled down after 1884 and a more massive wall partly of masonry and wrought iron was built with a new gate and a drinking fountain. In the courtyard there was an ablutions fountain ("šadrvan") with a stone basin and twelve pipes. The water for the fountain was brought from a spring that is still known as Šadrvan. Above the stone basin was a decorative wrought iron trellis, and in the 19th century a wooden baldaquin and dome and painted attic in the so-called Turkish baroque style was added which was demolished in 1955.[9] One of three small adjacent mausoleums - Ferhad Pasha Turbe - contained the tombs of Ferhat-paša Sokolović, the others were for his granddaughter Safi-kaduna, and his ensign. A clock tower ("Sahat-Kula") was added later.

Like most buildings of this type in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the mosque was on a modest scale: 18 meters (59 ft) wide, 14 meters (46 ft) long and 18 meters (59 ft) high at the top of the main dome. The minaret was 43 m (141 ft) high. According to legend, when the mosque was completed in 1579, Ferhad-Pasha had the masons locked inside this minaret, sentencing them to death so they could never make anything so beautiful, but one night they made wings and flew away.[10]

Ferhadija was listed as a Bosnia and Herzegovina cultural heritage site in 1950. It was subsequently protected by UNESCO until its destruction in 1993. Today the site, with the mosque's remains, is listed as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[9]


Dome of rebuilt Ferhadija Mosque

The mosque was one of 16 destroyed in the city of Banja Luka during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

The Republika Srpska authorities ordered the demolition of the entire Ferhadija and Arnaudija mosque complexes, which stood approximately 800 m (2,625 ft) apart. Both mosques were destroyed in the same night within 15 minutes of each other. (It has been noted that the almost simultaneous destruction of the Ferhadija and Arnaudija mosques required large quantities of explosives and extensive coordination. Many believe that this would not have been possible without the involvement of Banja Luka and Republika Srpska authorities.)

The Serb militia blew up the Ferhadija Mosque on the night of 6–7 May 1993. May 6 is the date of the Serbian Orthodox holiday of Đurđevdan (Saint George's day). The minaret survived the first explosion, but was then razed to the ground.[11]

Most of the debris was taken to the city dump; some stone, and ornamental details, were crushed by the Serbs for use as landfill. The leveled site was turned into a parking lot. Several weeks after the destruction of Ferhadija the nearby Sahat Kula, one of the oldest Ottoman clock towers in Europe, was also destroyed.

At the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia a Serb leader from Banja Luka, Radoslav Brđanin, was convicted for his part in organizing the destruction of Muslim property including mosques, and also in the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs. He was sentenced to a single prison term of 32 years.

The Brđanin case proved that the destruction of the mosques was orchestrated as part of the ethnic cleansing1|2 campaign.[12] In addition, the Bosnian side in the Bosnian genocide case at the International Court of Justice has cited the destruction of Ferhadija Mosque as one of the elements of ethnic cleansing and genocide employed by the RS authorities during the Bosnian War.


Ferhadija under reconstruction in 2014

In 2001, a building permit was granted to the Islamska Zajednica Banjaluke (Islamic Community of Banja Luka) to reconstruct the mosque. On May 7, Serb nationalists attacked about 300 Bosniaks attending the ceremony to mark the laying of the cornerstone. The New York Times reported that about 1,000 Orthodox Christian Serbs participated in the attack and that they threw rocks and burned vehicles, a bakery, Muslim prayer rugs, and the flag on the Islamic center, where they hoisted the Bosnian Serb flag; drove a pig onto the site of the mosque as an insult to Muslims; and trapped 250 people in the Islamic center including the head of the UN in Bosnia, the ambassadors from Great Britain, Sweden and Pakistan, and other international and local officials. Bosnian Serb police eventually released them. More than 30 Bosniaks were injured and at least eight were taken to the Banja Luka hospital. One died later from head injuries.[13][14] The disrupted ceremony took place on the 8th anniversary of the mosque's destruction, a date subsequently chosen as Bosnia and Herzegovina's official Day of the Mosques. A few days later, in secret and under heavy security, the ceremony was performed successfully. But because of the earlier attack, reconstruction was not undertaken.

Although most of the mosques destroyed in Banja Luka in the Bosnian War have been reconstructed since 2001, Ferhadija is still a contentious issue. Work was delayed by the complexities involved in rebuilding it authentically. The Sarajevo School of Architecture's Design and Research Center had prepared preliminary studies, and the cost of reconstruction was estimated at about 12 million KM (around $8 million). A local magistrate ruled that the authorities of Banja Luka, which is Bosnian Serb-controlled, must pay $42 million to its Islamic community for the 16 local mosques (including Ferhadija Mosque) that were destroyed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.[15] However, this ruling was subsequently overturned by the highest court in Sarajevo when the Serb Republic objected to paying for the damage caused by individual people.

The site, with its original architectural remains, is listed as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina the building was placed under state protection and entered in the register of cultural monuments. The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Ferhad-paša mosque in Banja Luka as a Category I building under serial no. 38.[9]

In June 2007 repairs were completed on the foundations that survived the destruction, and reconstruction of the masonry and the rest of the building was completed over the next nine years, with the mosque reopening in on 7 May 2016.[4]

Notes and referencesEdit


1The ICTY Trial Chamber is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt both that the expulsions and forcible removals were systematic throughout the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK), in which and from where tens of thousands of Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats were permanently displaced, and that this mass forcible displacement was intended to ensure the ethnic cleansing of the region. These people were left with no option but to escape. Those who were not expelled and did not manage to escape were subjected to intolerable living conditions imposed by the Serb authorities, which made it impossible for them to continue living there and forced them to seek permission to leave. Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats were subjected to movement restrictions, as well as to perilous living conditions; they were required to pledge their loyalty to the Serb authorities and in at least one case, to wear white armbands. They were dismissed from their jobs and stripped of their health insurance. Campaigns of intimidation specifically targeting Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats were undertaken.

2This process of ethnic cleansing was sometimes camouflaged as a process of resettlement of populations. In Banja Luka, the Agency for Population Movement and the Exchange of Material Wealth for the ARK ("Agency"), which was established on 12 June 1992 pursuant to a decision of the ARK Crisis Staff, aided in the implementation of both the exchange of flats and the resettlement of populations. The Agency was popularly known variously as "Perka's Agency" or as "Brđanin's Agency". The ICTY Trial Chamber is of the view that although this Agency was set up for the exchange of flats and the resettlement of populations, this was nothing else but an integral part of the ethnic cleansing plan.


  1. ^ Structural Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage, C. A. Brebbia,L. Binda, page 437
  2. ^ Coward, Martin. Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-46131-3.
  3. ^ "Ferhadija Mosque is back! (In Bosnian)". Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Razed ancient Bosnian mosque re-opens". BBC News. 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  5. ^ ArchNet Digital Library: Ferhad Pasha Mosque Archived 2012-05-03 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ János Asbóth (Johann von Asbóth), Bosnien und die Herzegowina: Reisebilder und Studien, Vienna, A. Hölder, 1888, p.  374
  7. ^ Banja Luka Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Džemal Ćelić, Ferhadija u Banjaluci (i.e. "Ferhadija in Banja Luka" ), ed. Society of Conservators of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo 1968, p. 6
  9. ^ a b c and Herzegovina Commission to Preserve National Monuments Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine: Ferhad Pasha mosque (Ferhadija) in Banja Luka, Decision of 7 May 2003, no: 08.2-6-533/03-8
  10. ^ In Communion: Mosque to be rebuilt in Bosnian Serb territory ( Website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, News Reports Spring 2001); retrieved 26 January 2011
  11. ^ Transition Online
  12. ^ Brdjanin trial Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Bosnian Serb Crowd Beats Muslims at Mosque Rebuilding, New York Times, May 8, 2001
  14. ^ Perica Vucinic, Republic 0%, World Press Review Vol. 48,10 (October 2001)
  15. ^ Bosnian Serbs Told To Pay $42Mln For Burnt Mosques Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine,, February 20, 2009

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit