Sarajevo cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo is famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious diversity, Sarajevo has often been called the “Jerusalem of Europe” or “Jerusalem of the Balkans”.
Where East meets West
Where mountains meet the sea
Where many cultures have built one
A country where adventure is the rule
- Ivo Andric (Nobel prize for literature in 1961)
- Vladimir Prelog (Nobel Prize for research within chemistry 1975).
- Danis Tanović winner of the Oscar from this region (2002) for the best movie in the category of non-English speaking countries.
Archeologists can safely say that the Sarajevo region has been continuously inhabited by humans since the Neolithic age. The most famous example of a Neolithic settlement in the Sarajevo area is that of the Butmir culture.
During the Middle Ages Sarajevo was part of the Bosnian province of Vrhbosna near the traditional center of the kingdom. During the high Middle Ages various documents make note of a place called “Tornik” in the region. By all indications however, “Tornik” was a very small marketplace surrounded by a proportionally small village not considered very important by Ragusan merchants.
Others meanwhile say that Vrhbosna was a major city located in the middle of modern day Sarajevo. Indeed, Papal documents say that in 1238, a Cathedral to Saint Paul was built in the city. Even disciples of the famous Saints Cyril and Methodius had stopped by the region, establishing a church at “Vrelobosna”.
Early Ottoman Era
Sarajevo as we know it today was founded by the Ottoman Empire in the 1450's upon conquering the region, with 1461 typically used as the city’s founding date. The first Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, transformed whatever cluster of villages there was there into a city and state capitol by building a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a hostel, and of course the governor’s castle (“Saray”) which gave the city its present name. The mosque was named “Carova Džamija” (the Tsar’s Mosque) in honor of the Sultan Mehmed II. With the improvements Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. Many Christians converted to Islam at this time.
Under the wise leadership of people such as Gazi Husrev-beg (the city’s greatest donor who built most of what is now the Old Town) Sarajevo grew at a rapid rate. Sarajevo became known for its large marketplace and numerous mosques, which by the middle of the 16th century were over a hundred in number.
At its height, Sarajevo was the biggest and most important Ottoman city in the Balkans after Istanbul itself.
Late Ottoman Sarajevo
In 1699 Prince Eugene of Savoy led a successful raid on Sarajevo. After his men looted all that they could, the city was set on fire. In a mere day, nearly the whole city was destroyed except for a handful of neighborhoods, some mosques, and the orthodox church. Numerous other fires weakened the city as well, so that by 1807 it only had some 60,000 residents (although this was still considerably more than New York City at the time).
In the 1830s the area around the city was ground to several battles of the Bosnian rebellion, led by Husein Gradaščević. Today, a major city street is named “Dragon of Bosnia” in his honor. The rebellion however, failed, and the crumbling Ottoman state remained in control of Bosnia for several more decades.
Sarajevo in the Habsburg Empire
In 1878, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary. Architects and engineers who endeavored to rebuild Sarajevo as a modern European capital rushed to the city. They were unexpectedly aided by a fire that burned down a large part of the central city area (čaršija). This has resulted in a unique blend of the remaining Ottoman city market and contemporary western architecture. Sarajevo hosts some shiny examples of Secession and Pseudo-Moorish styles that date from this period.
The Austria-Hungarian period was one of great development for the city as the Western power brought its new acquisition up to the standards of the Victorian age. Various factories and other buildings were built at this time, and a large number of institutions were both Westernized and modernized. For the first time in history, Sarajevo’s population began writing in Latin script.
World War l
In the event that triggered the World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip.
Yugoslavia - History of Modern Sarajevo
At crossroads of the worlds, this country remembered unbelievable overlapping of civilizations. It has kept the memory to splendid years of the Bosnian progress and saved from forgetting many cultural achievements.'
A lot of beautiful things have been retold about Bosnia-Herzegovina in songs, novels immortalized by paintings, stored in yellow books of history. It would be very difficult in short terms, to represent cultural heritage of the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina. We will try to do so by Sarajevo as its capital city and cultural center through past centuries, who symbolizes and illustrates the whole country.
Even in 16th century, Sarajevo was the most important trade center at the Balkans. Famous Bey-mosque (1530), a memorial of Gazi Husrev bey, the ottoman regent, is a biggest Islamic sacral object in this part of the world and a masterpiece of classic Istanbul architecture.
Five centuries ago, Sarajevo was a big city in relation to actually known European cities. Throughout five hundred years, mosques, synagogues, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches have been constructed existing next to each another. Sarajevo is the unique city in the world in which three biggest religions and respective architectures come together in the region of about hundred meters (Islamic mosque, Catholic cathedral and Orthodox church).
One of the most valuable Jewish exhibit illustrated Hebrew codex called "The Sarajevo Hagaddah", is kept within the National Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina confirming traditional tolerance and mutual respect of different nations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
More than five hundred years ago (1461), the first Sarajevo water-supply system was constructed and seven years later Gazi Husrev Bey water-supply system was completed being the biggest one within the period of the Turk Empire rule. It was 55 kilometers long supplying 156 public drinking fountains. By the end of 16th century Sarajevo had 7 public Turkish baths and big number of cobble-stoned streets.
In comparison to that time Europe, Sarajevo enjoyed significant cultural prestige. Only thirteen years upon the first electric power plant in New York, a part of Sarajevo streets was lightened by electric power (1895).
In the same time the electric tram was introduced, being the first in the Balkans and in the Middle Europe.
The Siege of Sarajevo 1992 - 1996
The Siege of Sarajevo is the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Bosnia and Herzegovina had declared independence from Yugoslavia, the Serbs, whose strategic goal was to create a new Serbian State of Republika Srpska (RS) that would include part of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, encircled Sarajevo and blockaded the city. The Bosnian government defence forces inside the besieged city were poorly equipped and unable to break the siege.
After the war, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted three Serb officials for numerous crimes against humanity for the siege. Stanislav Galić, Dragomir Milošević, Momčilo Perišić.
The recent Bosnian War resulted in large scale destruction and dramatic population shifts during the siege of the city between 1992 and 1995. See Siege of Sarajevo. Reconstruction of Sarajevo started as soon as the war ended in 1995. By 2003 most of the city was rebuilt, with only a few remaining visible ruins in the city center.