Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque

Gazi Husrev-begova Džamija / Gazi Hüsrev Bey Camii

The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, is a mosque in the city of Sarajevo. Built in the 16th century, it is the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most representative Ottoman structures in the Balkans. Being the central Sarajevo’s mosque since the days of its construction, today it also serves as the main congregational mosque of the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is located in the Baščaršija neighborhood in the Stari Grad municipality and, being one of the main architectural monuments in the town, is regularly visited by tourists.

The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque was built in 937 AH (1530/1531 AD) as the central object of the Beg’s endowment, which also included a maktab and a madrasa (Islamic primary and secondary schools), a bezistan (vaulted marketplace), a hammam (public bathplace) etc. The foundation of this waqf by the contemporary Ottoman governor of Bosnia had a crucial point in the development of the town. The architect’s name is unknown, but after some speculations, which even included famous Mimar Sinan as an option, most scholars agreed that Acem Esir Ali “Alaüddin”, Ottoman mimar of Persian ancestry, is the most probable builder. It is still possible that Sinan himself did inspect the work on the spot, since he was in the region at the time. Historical documents testify that Rhagusean masons, requested from their government by Gazi Husrev-beg, participated in the building process.

Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque was the first mosque in the world to receive electricity and electric illumination in 1898 during the period of Austro-Hungarian Empire.

During the Siege of Sarajevo, Serbian forces purposely targeted many centers of the city’s culture, such as museums, libraries, and mosques, and fired on them generally. As the largest and best known, the Beg’s mosque was an obvious target. Having suffered a significant amount of destruction, the reconstruction of the Mosque started with foreign help in 1996, right after the war. The old and faded layer of Austro-Hungarian decoration was removed and, since remains of older, historical layers of decorative painting weren’t found, a completely new interior was designed and applied by Bosnian calligrapher Hazim Numanagić in 2001/2002. Austro-Hungarian decoration, performed mostly in pseudo-Moorish style, remains only on the portal of the Mosque today.

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