Srpska: Banja Luka

Banja Luka is the capital of the de facto autonomous Republika Srpska (although on paper it’s part of the Bosnian federation but nobody here will agree with this). The town has a very rich and checkered history – from Roman times, to Slavic settlement, to Ottoman rule, to Austro-Hungarian occupation, to Yugoslavia, to a capital of a de facto independent state of Srpska. Sadly, the Bosnian war of 1991-95 resulted in complete destruction of all 16 mosques in town and all Bosniaks and Croats were expelled. The main Ferhat Pasha Mosque from 1579 was later reconstructed with UNESCO money but still there is hardly a mention of it in the local maps and no signs. Instead, there are half a dozen Serbian Orthodox churches including the spectacular gilded Cathedral of Christ the Savior which was destroyed by Germans in WWII. There is also a medieval fortress here! The place is boiling with history….