Ferhat Pasha Mosque

Banja Luka, Bosnia

Blown-up 1993

The Disappointed Tourist: Ferhat Pasha Mosque, Ellen Harvey, 2024. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Ferhat Pasha Mosque, also Ferhadija (Turkish: Ferhat-pašina džamija), was built in 1597 at the order of Ferhad Pasha Sokolović. Tradition has it that he used the money paid by the defeated Auersperg family for the head of General Herbard VII von Auersperg and for the ransom of his son. According to legend, Ferhat Pasha locked the mosque’s builders in the minaret after its construction so that they could never build anything else as beautiful; fortunately for them, according to legend, they grew wings and flew away. It was considered to be one of the greatest treasures of Bosnia and Herzogovina’s 16th Century Ottoman architecture and was a protected UNESCO site. The mosque was blown up on the night of 6–7 May 1993, along with several other mosques in Bana Luka, by the Republika Srpska in the Bosnian War. The mosque has since been reconstructed and reopened in 2016. The painting is based on an uncredited photograph.

Requested in person by a boy in Margate whose family had come to the UK as refugees after the Bosnian War but who did not want to give his name.