Sarajevo’s City Hall: the abundant history of Bosnia’s pseudo-Moorish landmark | Concrete Ideas

Sarajevo’s City Hall: the abundant history of Bosnia’s pseudo-Moorish landmark | Concrete Ideas
Image: Aktron via Wikimedia

20 September 2021

Nestling on the Miljacka riverbank and first opened in 1896, while Bosnia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sarajevo’s City Hall’s pseudo-Moorish architecture is a tribute to the Muslim heritage of the city. Inspired by Cairo’s Mamluk-period architecture (1250–1517), the building, locally known as Vijecnica (“city hall”), has functioned as a city hall, a parliament house, and, during the communist period, the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As a library, it boasted a collection of 1.2 million books. Following the Sarajevo siege in 1992 — it is estimated that only 10-15 per cent of the collection was saved, with many 16th century manuscripts destroyed. Thanks to donations from Spain, Hungary, and Austria, in 2014, the building was restored and reopened as a City Hall to mark the centenary of the First World War and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand — who was killed just a few minutes away from the building.

Image: Julian Nyča via Wikimedia

Image: Julian Nyča via Wikimedia

Today, the landmark, originally designed by Aleksander Wittek and Ciril Ivekovic, also hosts two museums: a history museum about the Siege of Sarajevo, and an international contemporary art collection, called Ars Aevi. Thanks to its elegant main hall — consisting of a hexagonal structure adorned with balconies, and with intricate white, yellow, turquoise, and brown Islamic i painting and plaster decoration — the City Hall has become popular with wedding photographers.

Image: Alen Djuderija Photography via Wikimedia

Image: Alen Djuderija Photography via Wikimedia

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