The legend of Safikada, a young, beautiful woman from Banja Luka who killed herself because of unfortunate love, is the most famous legend in the city on the Vrbas River.
Safikada’s grave is a place which is regularly visited by tourists and young people of Banja Luka, who light up candles and lay flowers for happiness in love.
The legend of Safikada, or Safikaduna, has several versions. According to one of them, this beautiful woman was the granddaughter of Ferhad-Pasha Sokolović, according to another one she was the daughter of a prominent, wealthy resident of Banja Luka. She fell in love with a Turk soldier, but he was killed in combat. That is why she put a wedding dress on and threw herself in front of the canon that marked noon from the Kastel Fortress. Her last words were “I am faithful to you to the grave”.
Second version says that he was actually an Austro-Hungarian soldier and that this love could not survive due to cultural reasons. Her prominent father and commandant of the fortress decided to separate the two young people in love so they sent the soldier to Andalusia to fight. He was killed there and, upon hearing the news, Safikada stood in front of the canon.
“The cannoneer had already placed the torch on fire in the canon, when he saw the girl who put her chest over the open tube and hugged it with her arms. She only had time to say “I will be faithful to you”. Her dead body fell to the site of current monument, where people light candles for eternal love,” it is written on the monument that marks Safikada’s grave, between the Kastel Fortress and the Ferhad-Pasha’s Mosque.
Miljana Okilj, Head of Department for Cultural and Historical Heritage in the Institute for Protection of Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Republika Srpska, says that from the aspect of protection of heritage the legend of Safikada and the site where she is believed to have been buried can be claimed as non-material and material heritage. When it comes to non-material heritage, the legend itself and all its variants can be placed in the period from the 16th until 19th century.
“What is certain is that at this place, which is presumed to be Safikada’s grave, remains of a human skeleton were found in the eighties of the past century, within archaeological research. What can be confirmed scientifically is the assumption that according to the carving and bonding style this sarcophagus can be placed in the 16th century. However, the story about her killing herself in front of the canon which fired a ball every day at noon cannot be confirmed because it is not known whether the canon was fired every day at noon in the Ottoman time, and it most probably wasn’t,” said Okilj.
Okilj emphasized that non-material heritage is also very important and that it has a great tourism potential.
“The site itself where Safikada’s grave is believed to be is located between the Kastel Fortress and the Ferhadija Mosque, which are two major cultural-historical monuments of Banja Luka, and this legend which still lives is very important,” Okilj added.