The construction and upkeep of the buildings of Islamic architecture in Sarajevo in the XVth century

  • Behija Zlatar, dr.


In the XVth century Sarajevo was one of the most developed towns in the Balkans. The number of city districts (mahalla), which is the best indicator of the urban development of an Islamic-Oriental town, shows that Sarajevo in the XVIth century reached a culmination in its urban developmont during the period of Ottoman rule. At the and ;of the XVth century the town had only three Muslim city districts, a community (džemat) of Dubrovnik people and a community of Christians; at the end of the XVIth century 91 Muslim city districts, two Christian city districts and a community of Jews.

Of special significance in the urban development of Sarajevo was the waqf (endowments). Numerous representatives of the feudal class, wealthy merchants and craftsmen, as well as other citizens, invested their properties »in the construction of the town. Using their personal fortunes which were often acquired on the battlefield, they built mosques, covered markets (bezistan), public baths (hamam), caravanserais, inns (han), bridges, schools and other buildings. These resources invested in building the town were impressive. According to the defters from the XVIth century, more than 100 waqfs were founded at Sarajevo by the end of the XVIth century.

In this article a short survey of the buildings constructed in Sarajevo during the XVth and the XVIth centuries is presented. All these buildings were constructed according to Ottoman architectural standards but they were adapted to the environment ih which they appeared. The greatest number of the buildings were mosques which, besides their basic purpose, were centres of some city districts (ma- halla) too. Some educational buildings such as, several Muslim secondary schools (madrasa), elementary schools (maktab) and libraries were also built. As the most important economic and comercial centre of the Bosnian sanjak, Sarajevo had several covered markets (bezistan), hans (han), karavanserais and numerous shops (dukan). As to buildings of public, health and humanitarian significance, several public kitchens (imaret), a water system, tavern rooms (musafirhana), public baths and numerous public taps were built. All these buildings were the result of individual endowments.

How to Cite
Zlatar, B. (1987). The construction and upkeep of the buildings of Islamic architecture in Sarajevo in the XVth century. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 8(13-14), 193-208. Retrieved from