Traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina, don’t miss Sarajevo Tours with Meet Bosnia Travel
Sarajevo, as the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been the center of world attention in the past for three times, the first time the Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince had Sarajevo Tours in 1914, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, the second time during the 14th Winter Olympics, and the third time during the siege of Sarajevo during the 90-those years of the last century. However, Sarajevo has much more to offer than these three events. This city, and especially its old part, is often called “European Jerusalem” due to the presence of different nations and cultures, located in a relatively small area. While walking throughout Sarajevo, this city gives you a sense of time travel, from the Ottoman period in one step you are transitioning to the Austro-Hungarian period. The further you go, the more modern Sarajevo becomes, and therefore you can conclude how different cultures have left an indelible mark in the existence of this city.
Before the Ottomans came to Bosnia, in the area where today’s Sarajevo, more precisely the Old Town, already existed, however, it was no larger than a square, let alone a larger city. The area where Sarajevo was built, in that period looked somewhat different. There was a medieval village Bordac on today’s location of Bentbaša Baščaršija around which there was land that belonged to the inhabitants of the village. Several roads passed through the village, including the main road behind Sarajevo fields through Trgovište to Baščaršija. There was a crossroads on the main bazaar from the Middle Ages, and the main road, which is identical with today’s Titova Street, separated in several directions towards several villages.
The mentioned places are mostly located in the area which was often called Old Varoš (Stara Varoš), especially in Isa bey’s vakufnama, a document related to the founding of the city. This Old Varoš collapsed and Sarajevo was founded. Saray-ovasi was the original name for Sarajevo, and the Ottomans called the entire area of Vrhbosna that way. By omitting the last part words and by adding a suffix – the name Sarajevo came to exist.
The Ottomans invested a lot in waterworks, fountains and Sebilj during the construction and urbanization. Sebilj, in the 21st century, is one of the main symbols of the city of Sarajevo, and the one at Baščaršija is the only one that now Sarajevo has. The word Sebilj (sebil) itself is of Arabic origin and has several meanings, such as a road, a building made on the road, in which passers-by can find water. During the Ottoman rule, sebilj did not look as complete as it does today, as there was a person in charge of it pouring water on passers-by who are thirsty. There is a written record that states, Ottoman built over 300 sebiljs, mostly in bazaars and markets. These sebiljis were destroyed in a fire in the year 1697., and in Sarajevo there were no more sebilj until 1167, when sebilj was built in Baščaršija, 5 meters lower than today. According to one legend, one who drinks water from a sebilja or fountain will fall in love and stay in Sarajevo.
What contributed to the urbanization of Sarajevo, especially the old part of the city, are the waqfs, more precisely Gazi Husrev-beg’s waqf. Gazi Husrev-beg’s mosque is still one of the most beautiful symbols of this endowment, and it has preserved a tradition of almost 500 years. It is not known exactly when its construction began but is not known to have been completed in 1531. Across from the magnificent mosque, one can also see the Gazi Husrev-beg madrasa (highschool) with the library as part of his waqf. The madrasa was built in memory of his mother Seldžuka, so one period was also called Seldžukija. After the madrasa was covered with lead, and it got the name Kuršumlija. Today, Kuršumlija is used as a museum, and next to it is another building madrasa with a boarding school which is still in use today and is classified as a waqf. Next to the madrasa in the waqf Gazi Husrev-beg also includes Imaret, Caravanserai, which today bears the name Morića han, bezistani, and during Ottom period, even the water supply system was financed from endowment of Gazi HUsrev-bey.
There is also a Jewish temple near Gazi Husrev-beg’s waqf. Namely, in Sarajevo two Jewish groups exist: the Sephardim and the Ashekenzi. The Sephardim of 1882 have their own statute, a The Ashkenazi have had it since 1883. Sarajevo is also the seat of the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were two Sephardic temples in the Great Court, but one burned down in a fire in 1879, and was rebuilt in 1881. After the end of the Nazi occupation of Sarajevo, in 1941, the temple was looted and demolished, and at the end of World War II it served as warehouse. In 1957, a thorough reconstruction of the building was carried out in order to obtain the old one appearance. Later on, the temple was turned into the Jewish Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the beginning of 21. century was declared a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Archbishop Josip Stadler worked in Sajrajevo during the Austro-Hungarian administration, which sought primarily to regulate the church hierarchy and then he advocated the construction of Catholic buildings. It was built in the period from 1882 to 1889 today’s Cathedral of the Heart of Jesus, which is also a table church. This building with two towers, done in the Gothic style is the work of the architect Josip Vancaš, who found his inspiration in the cathedrals of Notre Dame (Paris) and Teyn (Prague). However, it can be said that it is the Sarajevo Cathedral very authentic which fits extremely nicely into its surroundings as a unique building. The interior of this cathedral is richly decorated. The frescoes were taken care of by the famous Italian-German painter Alexander Maximilian Seitz. It is interesting that it was placed in front of this cathedral monument to Pope John Paul II, who was a great friend of Sarajevo and its people, and even visited Sarajevo. Not only was he visiting, but he was one of the first religious leaders who visited Sarajevo in 1997 after the end of the war in the 1990s.
Another of the places of worship that is in the immediate vicinity of the already mentioned three places of worship eat the Old Orthodox Church. When it comes to this church, the year of its founding is a bit problematic, since some claim that it existed before the arrival of the Ottomans. The oldest Ottoman source to speak about Sarajevo is Isa-bey’s vakufnama from 1462. The church is not mentioned in it, therefore it probably did not exist at that time. In the museum of the Old Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo has over 300 Ottoman documents, mostly from the XVIII and XIX century. Only four documents are dated to the first half of the seventeenth century.
One of the most recognizable buildings in Sarajevo, besides Sebilj, is the City Hall- Vijećnica. Looking at this magnificent building, one could conclude from the appearance and composition of the colors that it is originated during the Ottoman rule, however this is not true. Namely, the City Hall was built for during the Austro-Hungarian administration. After the arrival of the Austro-Hungarians in Sarajevo, the formation was ordered The city government, which until 1881 was housed in a building on the left bank of the Miljacka.
Karl Paržik was the first architect to be trusted to build and it is interesting that he is his project was stationed on the other side of Miljacka, not where today’s City Hall is. Minister B. Kallay himself had objections and his project was entrusted to another architect Alexander Wittek, famous for studying in Cairo and drawing his inspiration from Islamic architecture. The town hall was built in the pseudo-Moorish style, and is the main inspiration had the mosque and madrasa of Hassan II of Cairo. The base of the building has the shape of a right triangle, to which the tops are slightly truncated. On the side there are towers divided at the ends, while in the middle there is a dome. Vijećnica was ceremoniously opened on April 20, 1896. This building is in one period it also served as a library, but after it burned down in 1992, it was unrestored for a long time, since the government was procrastinating with the renewal. It was finally rebuilt to look like before, rebuilt, and confirmed symbolically in 2014 on the 100th anniversary of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. Now again has the function of City Hall.
What’s very characteristic of the old part of the city is precisely this proximity religious buildings, but also the cultural aspect that is indispensable here. Sarajevo has always been and it will be a multicultural and multiethnic environment. One of the locations that is just witnessing this is a small symbol near the Jewish temple marked E (East) and W (West). On the ground instead of the tiles that pave the street, you can clearly see the inscription Sarajevo – Meeting of Cultures. This indicates the specific geographical position of Sarajevo, but also of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which for centuries was just the border and the border between east and west.
If you wish to explore Sarajevo, the best recommendation would be to take one of the Sarajevo Tours or even perhaps most popular Sarajevo Free Walking Tour. Meet Bosnia Tours from Sarajevo offers wide range of tours and activities from Sarajevo such as famous Sarajevo Under Siege – War tour, Day tour to Mostar from Sarajevo and rest of Herzegovina, Day tour to Travnik and Jajce from Sarajevo, Srebrenica Study Tour from Sarajevo, Connecting Transfers from Sarajevo and much more… When seeing these magnificent building, your experience is amplified by the great tales our guides can offer you. Welcome to Sarajevo, enjoy your stay and book a tour with us!