Some 470 years after it was first built and more than 25 years after it was levelled to the ground, the Aladza Mosque in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca opened its doors to the faithful on Saturday.
The Aladza, the Colourful Mosque or Hasan Nezir's Mosque was built in 1549, and it was the first Bosnian mosque built in the classical Ottoman style. It was constructed by a close friend of Mimar Sinan, who built the Mostar bridge, and the thing that makes Aladza Mosque so great is the fact that all other classical mosques are built upon its model.
The mosque is listed on the Bosnia's cultural heritage list and the UNESCO's list of world heritage.
During the Bosnian war (1992-1995) the authorities of the then break-away Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina destroyed it to the ground with explosives on August 2, 1992, and scattered its remains around the town. Some ended up on the city dump while some were buried underground.
Before 1992, Foca was home to 12 mosques, which were demolished during the war. So far, only the Atik Pasha and Sultan Beyazid Vali's mosques were reconstructed.
The Aladza was rebuilt primarily with the support of the General Directorate of the Waqf of the Republic of Turkey, which financed all the construction works, then the United States Embassy in Bosnia, the Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments, IRCICA and many others.
The mosque's reconstruction began in 2014 and it was done according to the blueprints of the original Aladza Mosque.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the local community, Gorazde Mufti Remzija Pitic, the directors of the Waqf Directorate of Bosnia and Turkey Senaid Zajimovic and Adnan Ertem, the US Ambassador to Bosnia Eric Nelson, Turkish Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, as well as the Grand Mufti of Bosnia's Islamic Community Husein Kavazovic.
"Foca's most beautiful postcard of has returned to us. The opening of the mosque is a message of peace, tolerance and new bridges," Radisav Masic, the mayor of Foca, said on Saturday.
"The Aladza Mosque has returned and filled the place that belonged to it for centuries. One of the most important monuments of the Islamic culture has returned the coast of Cehotina river," Masic said.