ou are standing in front of one of the largest mosques in the Balkans, characterised by its unique architecture with wooden, hand-carved pillars. With a floor area of about 550m2 it can accommodate up to as many as 1,200 believers. The mosque in Petnjica is also the only threestorey mosque in Montenegro. It is several centuries old and as such its appearance has also changed over time.
It is not known for certain when it was built. Legend says it was at the end of the 16th century, when with the decrease in importance of the town of Bihor, mosques started to be built outside its walls as well. Major roads led along the River Popča and correspondingly mosques were built along its course as well. Historians connect its construction with the arrival of Haidar-pasha Selim, in 1689, when several Oriental-style structures were built in Bihor and the River Lim valley.
Its original appearance differed significantly from the current one. The size of the building was smaller; the first floor was made of stone, whereas the second floor was made of wood. The minaret was wooden, while the mosque was covered with wooden boards. Among the locals there is a legend that the stone for its construction was brought from a mosque which was located within the medieval fortification of Bihor, at the top of the steep hill of Gradina, above the village of Bioče.
At the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century the number of inhabitants of the region of Petnjica was growing, and Petnjica developed into an important regional centre. The mosque became too small and therefore in 1901 its enlargement was initiated, which is witnessed to by the date written in Arabic script on the plate kept in the mosque.
“La Ilahe illalah Muhameden resulullah, Mutevelija (estate manager) from Trpezi, Cikotić Hasan (Huso) Bejtov and Tahir Abdurahmanov Kršić, from Radmanci, Chief artisan from Hercegovina, Ajdin Korijanić settled in Berane, Imam Mullah Šaćir Hodžić, in the year 1321 H. (1903)“
Material for the enlargement of the mosque and its furnishing, as well as money and food for the artisans were provided by the people of this region through voluntary presents and contributions. The size of the enlarged mosque was 15.80 x 13.20 m2 and it had three floors and a wooden minaret considerably higher than the current one.
The hladnjak (shade), in which about 50 people could sit, built in 1930 in the garden of the mosque was famous as well. It was a place for gathering and conversation before entering the mosque. The foundations were made of stone, on which wooden beams with wooden construction and a cover made of wooden planking were leaned. The structure was removed in 1956. During the 20th century the mosque went through several alterations only to regain its former appearance with the last reconstruction in 2005.
The mosque in Petnjica had a very important role in making local people literate and in the preservation of the cultural identity of people of the region of Bihor. In the archive of the mosque even today the registers of birth and registers of marriage, as well as other details about the population of this region, are kept. It is believed that this mosque has never been destroyed because its foundations are guarded by meleks, i.e. angels as well as by the presents from the people of Bihor people given for the advancement of their families and the whole region.
Source: www.pedalaj.me, Photo:R.Raičević