For over four hundred years, mosques, synagogues, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have been built and have stood side by side amidst Sarajevo giving the city its unique feel and adding to the Sarajevo image of being the "European Jerusalem".
Sarajevo bridges are a wonderful addition to the panorama view on the Miljacka river that rusn through the very center of Sarajevo.
While Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Sarajevo has its Eiffel Bridge on Skenderija. However, for one bridge in Sarajevo one could say it was infamous, the Latin bridge (the bridge got it name after the nearby Latin, i.e. Dubrovnik trade colony. It was built in 1798.), being the place where Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife on June 28, 1914 which set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the World War I.
Baščaršija (Bashcharshiya) is the heart of old Sarajevo. The word Baščaršija derives from Turkish language. The word "baš" which is "baş" in Turkish means "primary", "main", "capital" and "čaršija" which is "çarşı" in Turkish means "bazaar" or "market". Baščaršija was built in 16th century.
Walking through the Baščaršija brings you back in time and gives you a glimpse into Ottoman Sarajevo as each street in Baščaršija is dedicated to another craft, the most intersting being the traditional metalwork, jewellery, and pottery shops. One of the oldest streets in Baščaršija is the Kazandžiluk street (Coppersmith street), which was once a part of a larger copper craft guild and today is the place to buy a traditional souvenir, copper products decorated using special techniques passed down through generations.
While in Baščaršija you will notice a lot of aščinicas, buregdžiničas, and ćevapdžinicas which are connceted with another long tradition; they are a sort of a fast food restaurants of Bosnia and Herzegovina serving excellent traditional meals, a must have, the very reason there is no McDonald's in Sarajevo. Once you taste the food you will never want to leave Sarajevo.
Meals offered in aščinicas are:
- Sarajevski sahan: meal comprised of various dolmas (vegetables stuffed with meat and rice)
- Bosanski lonac (Bosnian pot): thick stew-like soup made of veal and vegetables flavoured with orient-conjuring spices like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
- Banija: okra with lamb meat
- Pitas: thin puffed pastry filed with meat or vegetables; they are the speciality of buregdžinicas.
There are five kind of pitas diferentiated by the type of filling: Burek (meat filled), Zeljanica (spinach), Krompiruša (potato), Sirnica (cheese), and Tikvenica (squash).
Meals offered in ćevabdžinicas are:
- Ćevapi (Čevapčići): rolled spiced meat balls served with somun (thin pita-bread), onions, and youghurt. Considered to be the national meal of Bosnia.
- Pljeskavice: hamburger-like patty served with somun and yoghurt
Please note that since aščinicas, buregdžiničas, and ćevapdžinicas are traditional establishments they usually don't serve alcohol.
Sweets lovers should note that Bosnian sweets tend to be really sweet and one would require several glasses of water to eat one of the baklava's, tufahija's, or tulumba's atany of the Baščaršija's many cake shops.
Should you ever become thirsty amidst Baščaršija there is a public fountain named Sebilj (from Arabic word depicting a kiosk-like public fountain). The Sebilj fountain in pseudo-Moorish architectural style dates from 1891 and is a work of a Czech architect Alexander Wittek. The water in Sarajevo is cool, tasty, and perfectly safe for drinking.
The City Hall is the biggest and the most representative building from the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. The first project was entrusted to Karlo Paržik.However, the architect refused to accept some remarks by the minister so Alexandar Wittek was entrusted to lead the new project. Since the project was planned to be in pseudo-Moorish style, Wittek visited Cairo twice in order to study buildings constructed in this style.His models were the mosque and the school of Hasan II in Cairo. The style models used to build the City hall are the so-called Mozarab and Moorish arts from Spain, and the Maghreb. Allagedelly because of his work on the City hall construction (1892-1893), Wittek got mentally sick and committed a suicide so the work on the City hall was completed in 1894 by Ćiril M. Iveković with minor modifications of Wittek’s work. The building has a triangular foundation with a six-angled centre – the hall, the most important part of the luxurious interior topped with the glass dome. In order to comply with its function and architectural self, quite luxurious façade is applied with a representative front-side doorway.The façade is coloured red and yellow in turns with ornamental faïence boarding. Until the end of World War II the building was the seat of city authorities, after which it became the National Library. During the 1992 shelling the building suffered heavy damage and is currently (2007) under reconstruction.
Inat Kuća (Despite House; House of Spite; House of Pride) is a restaurant in an old ottoman-style house across the river from the City hall. The story behind the restaurant is that a stubborn owner refused to sell his house to the authorities who wanted to pull it down for the building of the City hall. The menu of the restaurants tells the story: “Tsar in Vienna is mighty and great. He deserves all my respect but he doesn’t have money to pay me for my delight.” Eventually the authorities met the demands of the owner and he was payed a sack of gold whilst the house was rebuilt brick by brick on the opposite bank of the river on the place where it stands today. The restaurant serves traditional Bosnian food.
Tzar's Mosque or Emperor's mosque with a dome above the prayer area and three small domes on the cloister is built in 1566 by the order of sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and on the request of Sarajevo's inhabitants. Beside the square shaped prayer area the mosque has extensions (tetime) on each side in order to receive a large number of believers (barracks and lodging were near).
On the place of today's mosque there used to be a mosque with a hipped roof, built by Isa-beg Ishaković in 1457, and in honour of sultan Mehmed II El-Fatih. Next to the mosque he also built the court (saraj) after which Sarajevo was named, a bridge, resting places for the caravans (karavansaraj) - Kolobara han (hostelry), Turkish bath (hamam), mills, Moslem monastery (tekija) and large number of shops.
The cloister that surrounds the mosque backyard was built at the time of sultan Abdulmedžid, and at the expense of Fadil-pasha šerifović. At that time the mosque was completely reconstructed, which is what the inscription (tarih) above the entrance talks about. Near the mosque Osman šehdija built a library in 1759 that had an octagonal base and was covered with a dome. This building was demolished, and a new building for the Managerial board of the Islamic Religious Community (Ulema medžlis) was built in its place in 1912. The architect was Karl Paržik who successfully completed this complex by respecting the modulus and using the elements of the traditional method of construction.
The minaret (munara) is octagonal and it is one of the most beautiful in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Instead of nobleman Isa-beg's original Turkish bath, that was demolished at the end of XIX century, the architect Vancaš designed and constructed Isa-beg's new spa, which has existed under difficult conditions since after the war 1992-95.
Gazi Husrev-beg's mosque (1530/31) is the most significant Islamic building in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is distinguished by its architectural values, varied base, multi dome system and courageously constructive solution from all other sub-dome mosques built in this country. The prayer area of Gazi Husrev-beg's mosque is covered by a dome (13m - 43ft span and 26m - 86ft height), whilst the side extensions are covered by small domes. These extensions are called tetims and have separate entrances, and were used for giving shelter to the travelling dervish orders. The alter (mihrab) is covered by a semi-dome.
The architect was Persian, Adžem Esir Ali, the main architect of the Ottoman Empire at that time. In the construction of this mosque he applied the early Istanbul style that gives a recognizable mark to the whole achievement. Stone plastic and stalactite ornaments are an integral part of the universal values of the mosque. The arabesque was destroyed after the descent of the Eugen Savojski (1697). It was restored in 1762, but burned down in 1879, and was restored again in 1886.
Gazi Husrev-beg's mosque including the fountain (šadrvan), Moslem primary school (mekteb), the room for ritual washing (abdesthana), domed burial sites (turbeti), Gazi Husrev-beg's and Murad-beg Tardić's harem, abode for the prayer caller (muvekithana), minaret 45 m high and tower-clock, dominates the market-place and makes its central and largest complex.
With its presence through the ages this complex affected the construction activities of the surrounding areas, streets and wards (mahalas). Extensive restoration works have been executed from 1995 to 1997 since the mosque was damaged during the war 1992/95.
Due to the necessities of having five daily prayers, in the Ottoman Empire the construction of tower-clocks began. Sarajevo's tower-clock (Sahat-kula) was one of the highest but also the most beautiful in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was built in the XVII century, and was reconstructed after the fire in 1697, as well as in 1762. After the Austro-Hungarian occupation upper zones of the building were added, and the clock was brought by Sarajevo's traders from London.
Gazi Husrev Bey's Bezistan was built in the first half of the 16th century. Rectangular in shape, Bezistan has a 109 meters passage running through its middle. The Bezistan is 19,5 m wide, with 52 shops, vaulted with a semi-circular ceiling. It was built by Dubrovnik masters. In its shape and size, Bezistan reminds of Istanbul's Misir čaršija and covered bazaars found in Arabic cities. Today Gazi Husrev Bey's Bezistan is called "Dugi Bezistan" in Sarajevo (Long market place) and it serves as a market place
Franciscan's monastery and the Church of the Saint Anthony of Padua are located at Bistrik on the left side of the Miljacka river. The Neo-Gothic style monastery was built in 1894 by architecht Karlo Panek, and the church in 1912 by architect Josip Vancaš in the new Romanesque style. The monastery holds a large number of old manuscripts and books, artistic pictures, handicrafts and other church objects of large significance, as well as stained-glass windows made by the painter Ivo Dulčić that are of the particular artistic value.
The monastery and church were seriously damaged in the war 1992/95, but have been reconstructed.
The Saint Ante Padovanski church as a sacral construction project is the last work of famous architect Mr. Josip Vancas. According to his project from 1911, it was approached to a new church construction on the same place where old church was torn down, from 1882. The construction of the church lasted from 1912 to 1913 and decoration until 1914, by the leadership of the architect Mr.Franjo Holza.
Because of the land contour the church is placed above monastery level, opposite of the main entrance. Over the monastery doorway there is a crosscut connected with a main church entrance. The church is constructed as a tree-vessel basilica with a five-sided altar apse and cross transept with sacristy's oratory above. In the lateral vessels, reciprocally separated by the wall three chapels, are placed on the each side with altar illustrations, small praying desks, and five wooden pedestals of the Way of the Cross made by sculptor Mr.Zdenko Grgic, instead of the former altars and confessionals. The church has cross-ribbed arches. The high parapet of the middle vessel, windows of each travey and altar's five windows are decorated by the extraordinary glass-screens. In the south-west part of the church there is leaned belfry with a solid cube.;43m high decorated by Saint Anthony statues and relief assembly of Saint Trinity.
Cathedral of Jesus' Sacred Heart stands on a small square down the Ferhadija street just outside Baščaršija, old Ottoman bazaar area of the city. The cathedral was built in 1889, according to the design of Josip Vancaš, in the new Gothic architecture style with new Romanesque elements. It is similar to the cathedral Notre Dame in Dijon. The cathedral has three naves and the middle one ends with a polygonal apse. The church rosette on the entrance facade above the profusely decorated portal is enriched with precious stained-glass windows. The Viennese sculptor A. Hausmann made the statue of the Jesus' Heart that stands on the entrance facade. According to the design of Alexander Maximilian Seitz, a relief of the Most Holy Trinity was formed by the Zagreb's sculptor Dragan Morak and carved by Ivan Novotny in the portal gable. The facades are made of two types of stone, yellow sandstone and reddish lime-stone. Stained-glass windows are made according to the design of Vancaš in Innsbruck and Vienna. The cathedral was originally decorated with paintings by Josip Volini and Ivan Betizz, as well as by Alexander Maximilian Seitz and his son Ludovic, who did the paintings in Strossmeier's Cathedral in Đakovo in 1875. Ludovic Seitz has painted eight cylindrical portraits with the bust of the church teachers that are the most precious painted part of this church. The statues were modeled by Dragan Morak, and carved by Ivan Novotny. The portrait of the archbishop Stadler above his grave is the work of Marin Studin. During the reconstruction of the Cathedral in 1929, another layer of ornamentation was painted by the painting work-shop from Stuttgart. This layer, as well as parts of the original paintings, were removed during the church reconstruction from 1987 to 1989, when the painter Ante Martinović made copies of the large wall compositions in oil-painting technique in 1:1 and fixed them on top of the damaged originals. On the entrance side of the Cathedral there are two church-towers, one with a bell inside, and the other with five smaller bells. The cathedral can receive 1200 people. The building was almost completely reconstructed after being damaged in the war 1992/95.
Old Orthodox Church of Saint Archangel Mihail and Gavril in Varoš has typological characteristics of the Orthodox Churches that have been built from the XII to XIV century in this area but the first mention of the church is from 1539. There are indications that an Old-Christian basilica from the 5th century A.D. existed here. A legend is preserved about the construction of the church, saying that it was built by Prince Marko's brother. Due to the repeated fires the Church has been frequently repaired and got its present day appearance at the beginning of the XVIII century.
The interesting detail on the ground-plan where the width is bigger than the length, without an emphasized apse and dome, spatially designed in two levels, makes the Church together with the inventory and iconostasis a particularly significant building of our inheritance. In order to gain height the Church is interred under the ground level, and in the interior of the church a separate floor was made for women only, separated by window lattices (mušepci) from the prayer area. The iconostasis was made of a stone partition and of a wooden part, decorated and gold-plated, with series of icons from the XVI to XVIII century. There are several valuable icons made by the master Radulo in the XVII century, as well as a large number of icons made by Maksim Tujković in the XVIII century.
There is also a collection of old icons, and a museum organized theoretically by Jeftan Despić, the church nuncio in 1889. In the museum adapted from several Church warehouses (daira), there are icons, pictures, books and manuscripts, brass-worker's works and richly decorated suits for prayers. The baroque Church-tower is replaced by a smooth lined Church-tower at the first half of this century, according to the design of the architects A. Derok and D. Smiljanić.
The Orthodox Cathedral consecrated to the Holy mother, was built in 1868 in the new baroque style with elements of the Serb Byzantine architecture. It is a triple nave basilica with five new Byzantine domes on the high tambours. The church-tower was built in 1872 by Andrija Damjanov, who also built the Military barracks for which he was decorated by the sultan Abdul Aziz, who like the prince of Serbia, gave a contribution in the amount of five hundreds ducats for the construction of the church.
As it was damaged in the war 1992/95 the Greek government made provisions for the reconstruction of the church in 1999.
The Old jewish temple (II Kal Grandi) was built in 1581, but it was on fire twice (1697 and 1768). It was restored at the beginning of the XIX century. Due to an increased number of believers the New temple was built in 1821. The interior of the Old temple is divided into three naves. Its front part is the blessed area and it is used for sermons. Two lateral temple naves, as well as the part on the North side, used to have two floors each, which was a stipulation for worship. The first floor was intended for women, whilst the men were on the ground floor. It was completely reconstructed in 1909 when electrical lighting was installed, the stone facade was plastered with mortar and a new roof was made. In World War Two it suffered severe damage by the Nazis. Today, the Jewish museum is there. Sarajevo Haggadah was written in the 14th century and is believed to be brought to Sarajevo from Spain by the Sephardi Jews. Today, the Haggadah is kept at the National museum in Sarajevo.
Ashkenazi synagogue was built in 1902 according to the design of Karlo Paržik as the first religious object to be constructed in the pseudo-Moorish style. The synagougue is located on the left bank of the river Miljacka and it is the only active synagogue in Sarajevo.
The synagogue was severely damaged in the war 1992/95.
The Svrzo house is located on the Glođina street and represents an authentic Bosnian nobleman's (beg) house from the 18th century. It was built during the Ottoman Period and it symbolizes the life of a man from this region. It is a very comfortable house, which kept the life of a family man secret and at the same time gave an insight into the life in alleys.
The house is comprised of separate quarters for men, women and servants, as well as courtyards and gardens. It has the half-round tile roof and a front and a back-porch. The main house, as well as the rest of the complex is asymmetric. This is due to its economic function that had to be accomplished on the ground floor without paying attention to the form. Rooms were built in regards to the need. Thus, the storehouse, horse stable and the additional cooking-house were freely positioned. The upper floors had to have a better view of the garden, court-yard and the street. Today, the Svrzo house is open for visitors and represents the Museum of Bosnian Architecture before the Europeanization of the region.
Dobrinja - Butmir Tunnel is a 720 meters (2362 feet) long tunnel built under the airport runway from the 27. March 1992 to 30. July. 1992 The tunnel represents a symbol of a four-year-long resistance to the siege of Sarajevo and its citizens, a resistance against genocide and urbicide conducted on the City by the aggressor from 1992 to 1995. The tunnel was the only connection of besieged Sarajevo with the outside world. Today, the tunnel is made a Tunnel museum, open every day from 09 am - 6 pm.