History of Sarajevo

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This article is about the history of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Ancient history

The present day site of Sarajevo has a long and rich history dating back to the Stone Age. There were no people in the region in the Paleolithic era, although the remains of ancient animals have been found, including those of the ancient bear species, Ursus spelaeus. Excavation for the period has never been very comprehensive, and if the Sarajevo area was indeed inhabited during the Paleolithic era, the residents were probably Neanderthals.

During the neolithic era, the Sarajevo region was home to the Butmir Culture. Specifically, these people found themselves in Butmir, a satellite neighborhood of Ilidža, Sarajevo's chief suburb. The area is rich in flint, essential for making tools and weapons, and was attractive to ancient man, as was the Željeznica river which flows nearby.

The Butmir culture is most famous for its ceramics. Unique and artistic, it is one of the reasons why the Butmir people are identified as a unique culture today. [1] The finds were so sensational when they were made in the late 19th century, that the International Congress of Archeologists and Anthropologists was held in Sarajevo the following year.[ citation needed ] Today, all excavated material can be found in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Butmir Culture disappeared around 2400 BC, probably conquered by the next prominent inhabitants of Sarajevo; the Illyrians. They lived primarily in the West Balkans, mostly around the river Miljacka and Sarajevo valley. The most prominent of these was Debelo Brdo (Literally "Fat Hill") in today's Old Town, where an Illyrian fortification stood during the later Iron Age. Numerous Illyrian forts also existed in other parts of the city, as well as at the base of Trebević mountain. The Illyrians in the Sarajevo region belonged to the tribe Daesitiates, a war-like group who were the last to resist Roman occupation. Their last revolt occurred in 9 AD, and was crushed by the emperor Tiberius, marking the start of Roman rule in the region.

During Roman rule, Sarajevo was part of the province of Dalmatia. A major Roman road ran through the Miljacka river valley connecting the rich coastal cities of Dalmatia and the Adriatic coast with Pannonia to the North. The importance of the road can be seen by the numerous Roman artifacts found in the heart of Sarajevo itself over the years. On the left bank of the Miljacka there were once found Roman bricks and an inscription indicating a construction yard and, nearby, a bathhouse. The biggest known settlement in the region was known as ‘’Aquae S...’’ (probably Aquae Sulphurae) on top of present-day Ilidža.

Middle Ages

The Slavs came to Bosnia in the 7th century, but details of their movement and settlement through the country remain a mystery. Some Slavic artifacts remain from the time however, and it is fairly certain that they settled in the Sarajevo valley, replacing the Illyrians. Katera, one of the two original Bosnian towns that were mentioned as a part of Serbia by Constantine Porphyrogenitus in De Administrando Imperio , was found to the southeast of Sarajevo. By the time of the Ottoman occupation there was little settlement left in the region, leaving the history of the Sarajevo region during the Middle Ages not well understood.

The first mentions of Bosnia describe a small region, which was basically the Bosna river valley, stretching from modern-day Zenica to Sarajevo.[ citation needed ] In the 12th century, when Bosnia became a vassal of Hungary, the population consisted primarily of members of the Bosnian Church. The area of present-day Sarajevo was part of the Bosnian province of Vrhbosna, near the traditional center of the kingdom. Though a settlement called Vrhbosna existed, the exact settlement of Sarajevo at this time is debated. During the High Middle Ages, various documents make note of a place called 'Tornik' in the region. By all indications, 'Tornik' was a very small marketplace surrounded by a proportionally small village, not considered very important by Ragusan merchants. Even the local fortress of Hodidjed was defended by a mere two dozen men when it fell to the Turks. Sarajevo also fell under siege.

Others say that Vrhbosna was a major settlement located in the middle of modern-day Sarajevo. Papal documents indicate that in 1238, a cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul was built in the city. Disciples of the notable saints Cyril and Methodius stopped by the region, founding a church at Vrelo Bosne. Whether or not the city was located at modern-day Sarajevo, the documents attest to its and the region's importance. Perhaps a village existed on the outskirts of the city itself, near present-day Ilidža, one of the most attractive regions for settlement in the area, which had been significantly populated for pretty much every other period of its history. Vrhbosna was a Slavic citadel from 1263 until it was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in 1429. [2] Given the importance of Saint Peter, this would likely have been a very important cathedral, its exact location is unknown. Some have speculated that it was located in the present-day Sarajevo neighborhood of Skenderija, as it is said[ by whom? ] that during construction in the late 19th century, there were found Roman-style columns dating to sometime around the 12th century.

Whether this city was indeed located at modern-day Sarajevo or not, an important city called Vrhbosna did indeed exist at the time and the region was of great importance. Still, it is considered somewhat strange that the location of such an important city is unknown. It is possible that the city may have been destroyed sometime between the 13th century and the Ottoman occupation. It is a well-known fact[ citation needed ] that foreign armies had often made their way to Vrhbosna in wars with Bosnia, and perhaps one of them razed the city, leaving it in the condition that the Turks found it in the mid 15th century.

Early Ottoman Era

Sarajevo as it is known today was founded by the Ottoman Empire in the 1450s upon conquering the region, with 1461 typically used as the city's founding date. The first known Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, chose the tiny local village of Brodac as a good space for a new city. He exchanged land with its residents, giving them today's Hrasnica neighborhood in Ilidža), and soon began building his provincial capital as he envisioned it. He quickly built a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed marketplace, a public bath, a bridge, a hostel, and the governor's castle ("Saray") which gave the city its present name. The mosque was named "Careva Džamija" (the Emperor's Mosque; the Imperial Mosque) in honor of the Sultan Mehmed II. N.B. : Careva " pronounced tsareva ":meaning "Caesar, czar, tzar" With the improvements Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. Many Christians converted to Islam at this time, as Ottoman reports from the period often tell of residents with Muslim names but of Christian named fathers, such as "Mehmed, son of Ivan." Meanwhile, an Orthodox population first appeared in Sarajevo at this time, as the Orthodox Church was built. A colony of Ragusan merchants also appeared in Sarajevo at this time. Soon after, in the early 16th century, the Sarajevo Haggadah came to Sarajevo along with Jewish refugees from Andalusia. For the first time in its history, Sarajevo was the city of four religions. The Jewish population made note of this, naming the city "The European Jerusalem."

Under the leadership of Gazi Husrev-beg, a major donor who was also responsible for 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 numbered over a hundred. Numerous other buildings appeared, including religious schools, such as the school of Sufi philosophy. Gazi Husrev-Beg himself established a number of buildings named in his honor, such as the Sarajevo library which, in its prime, was in the same category as the Madrassa of Beyazid II.

Gazi Husrev-Beg also built the city's clock tower (Sahat Kula). Sarajevo became one of the most advanced cities in Europe. It had its own water system, clock tower, bathhouses, and schools. In a time when education was merely for the wealthy, and most Europeans considered baths to be unhealthy, Sarayliyas (Sa-ray-lee-yas, residents of Sarajevo) were among the cleanest and most culturally advanced commoners on the continent. A famous Sarajevan poet of the time [ who? ] wrote, "There it seems to man that he can live for a long time, for in a thousand places in Sarajevo flows water from the well of longevity."

At its height, Sarajevo was the biggest and most important Ottoman city in the Balkans after Istanbul itself. By 1660, the population of Sarajevo was estimated to be over 80,000. Comparatively, Belgrade in 1838 had a mere 12,963 inhabitants, and Zagreb as late as 1851 had only 14,000 people.

This period of early Ottoman rule will be long remembered as Sarajevo's golden age. The 16th century was its peak, when nearly the whole city area (that would last until the late 19th century) was built. During the 17th century, Sarajevo didn't expand, although its population continued to grow. Its residents lived luxuriously, and Sarajevo was the richest city in the West Balkans after Dubrovnik. However the 17th century also brought the start of the decline of the Ottoman Empire. With the defeats at Vienna, the empire grew weaker, and along with the empire as a whole did its various regions. Although Sarajevo would remain prosperous until the very end of the 17th century, the latter half of it proved to be the beginning of the end.

Late Ottoman Era

"Seralia" (Sarajevo) in 1697 at the time of the siege by Eugene de Savoy. Excerpts from his diary:October 23, 1697: "I opened a front line on the right side of the city and sent one division to loot and plunder: the Turks have brought all their valuables to security, but we could still find enough spoils. In the evening, a fire broke out. The city is large and fully open. It has 120 beautiful mosques."October 24, 1697: "We have completely burned down the city and all outskirts. Our troops, which have chased the enemy, have fetched spoils, women and children too. Many Christians are coming to us and begging for protection. They are coming with all their belongings in our camp because they want to leave the land and join us. I hope that I will be able to take all of them over the Sava river." Sarajevo 1697.jpg
"Seralia" (Sarajevo) in 1697 at the time of the siege by Eugene de Savoy. Excerpts from his diary:October 23, 1697: "I opened a front line on the right side of the city and sent one division to loot and plunder: the Turks have brought all their valuables to security, but we could still find enough spoils. In the evening, a fire broke out. The city is large and fully open. It has 120 beautiful mosques."October 24, 1697: "We have completely burned down the city and all outskirts. Our troops, which have chased the enemy, have fetched spoils, women and children too. Many Christians are coming to us and begging for protection. They are coming with all their belongings in our camp because they want to leave the land and join us. I hope that I will be able to take all of them over the Sava river."

The late Ottoman era, from 1697 to 1878, saw the decline of the empire, the city, and a number of disasters[ specify ].[ citation needed ]

The beginning of the late Ottoman era in Sarajevo's history begins with the end of the Austro-Ottoman War. Following the failure at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the western reaches of the empire were subject to numerous raids. It was the raid of 1697 by Prince Eugene of Savoy that would have the biggest impact. Brushing aside weak and unorganized defenses, Eugene was able to enter Sarajevo with ease, subsequently raiding and torching it. [3] [4]

Sarajevo was desolated by this attack. Very few structures survived the flames, and these were only ones built out of stone or subject to rare circumstance. The citizens of Sarajevo at that point had to start rebuilding their city from square one, not just structurally, but culturally and politically as well. By then, the seat of Bosnian government had already been transferred to Travnik, and the fire made the situation no better. For ten years between 1747 and 1757, the city even experienced anarchy.[ citation needed ]

If the city was no longer what it used to be structure wise, its intellectualism didn't suffer the slightest. In fact, the 18th century held many of Sarajevo's great thinkers, such as Mehmed Mejlija Guranij and Mula Mustafa Bašeskija. Significant libraries, schools, and mosques were built, as well as significant new fortifications.[ citation needed ]

The late 18th century however were not very good times. In 1788 another fire raged through Sarajevo, and this came only 5 years after an outbreak of plague. By the early 19th century, things did not get much better as Serbia gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire, creating a wedge between Sarajevo and Istanbul. This would all lead to the revolt of Bosniak national hero, Husein Gradaščević.[ citation needed ]

Demanding Bosnian independence from the Turks, Husein-Kapetan Gradaščević fought several battles around Bosnia. The last and ultimately most significant was the Battle of Sarajevo Field of 1832 where Husein-Kapetan Gradašćević was betrayed by a fellow Bosniak and lost a hard-fought battle. There he uttered his famous words "This is the last day of our freedom".[ citation needed ] For the next several decades no major developments occurred, as Sarajevo withered away in the "sick man of Europe".[ citation needed ]


Bosniak resistance during the battle of Sarajevo in 1878 against the Austro-Hungarian occupation. Sarajevo 1878..jpg
Bosniak resistance during the battle of Sarajevo in 1878 against the Austro-Hungarian occupation.

In late summer 1878, the city of Sarajevo, along with the rest of Bosnia Vilayet (Ottoman Empire's westernmost administrative division), was occupied by Austria-Hungary. The Ottoman Empire's handover of its Bosnian Vilayet to the Austro-Hungarian Army took place under the auspices of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin agreed by the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire as part of the Congress of Berlin, a conference organised in the wake of the 1877–78 Russo-Turkish War.

Although the Bosnia Vilayet de jure remained part of the Ottoman Empire, it was de facto governed as an integral part of Austria-Hungary with the Ottomans having no say in its day-to-day governance. This lasted until 1908 when the territory was formally annexed and turned into a condominium, jointly controlled by both Austrian Cisleithania and Hungarian Transleithania.


The Berlin Treaty was imposed by the Great Powers (Austria-Hungary and Russia, in particular, both of whom had major geopolitical interests in the Balkans) upon the rapidly dissolving Ottoman Empire, which entered the negotiations from an overwhelming position of weakness having seen many of its former territories achieve de facto independence over the previous half-century and having just been defeated in the year-long Russo-Turkish War that came on the heels of a number of uprisings among the ethnic populations living within the Ottoman borders.

Eastern Crisis 1875–78

Previously, the Ottoman position in their Bosnia Vilayet had been weakened by the 1875–78 Herzegovina Uprising, an armed revolt by the local ethnic Serb population that began in the Herzegovina region in July 1875 before spreading to the rest of the vilayet. The uprising lasted more than two years before the Ottomans, aided by the local Muslim population, managed to put it down. During the fall of 1875, inspired and spurred into action by the Serb uprising in the Bosnia Vilayet as well as the Ottoman initial inability to put a stop to it, the exiled Bulgarian revolutionaries operating out of the neighbouring United Romanian Principalities (another de jure Ottoman vassal which was steadily moving towards independence) began planning for their own uprising which began in the spring of 1876. The Ottoman reaction to the Bulgarian insurrection was swift and brutal, leading to many atrocities as well as universal international condemnation as the uprising was put down within months.

Another Great Power, the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, closely followed the events of the 1875 Serb peasant rebellion in Bosnia. Shaped by the Austrian-Hungarian foreign minister, count Gyula Andrássy, who was appointed in 1871 to replace Friedrich von Beust, the dual monarchy's foreign policy identified the Near East as the area of particular interest for its next territorial and political expansion. With the Serb peasants now revolting in Bosnia Vilayet and the Ottomans unable to stop them, Andrássy saw an opportunity to move this policy forward and on 30 December 1875 he sent a dispatch to his foreign ministry predecessor, Von Beust, at the time holding an important diplomatic post in the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Service as the dual monarchy's ambassador to the United Kingdom. In the document, known as the "Andrássy Note", the foreign minister outlined his vision for Bosnia as a territory governed and administered by Austria-Hungary. After obtaining general assent from the UK and France, the document became official basis for negotiations.

Simultaneous with their battleground defeats in the Russo-Turkish War, the Ottoman rule in the Bosnia Vilayet was rapidly weakening as well. Logistical and organisational issues began arising in the Ottoman army, such as inability to feed and clothe the soldiers, including its nineteen garrisons stationed in the Bosnia Vilayet, seventeen of which were made up of local Bosnian Muslims. [5] In a January 1878 report, Austro-Hungarian consul stationed in the city of Sarajevo, Konrad von Wassitsch, noted to his Vienna superiors that "Ottoman administrative bodies have no authority, and the population has lost its confidence in the government". [5] By the spring of 1878, the Ottoman Army in the vilayet was in such a state of disarray that many troops simply deserted after essentially being left to their own means. As a consequence, an estimated three thousand armed deserters were roaming the countryside in small bands, frequently terrorizing peasants. With no organized force implementing the law, groups of outlaws operated with impunity in many rural areas, effectively seizing control of significant territories. [5]

Treaty of San Stefano

Russian count Nikolay Ignatyev signing the Treaty of San Stefano with his Ottoman counterparts on 3 March 1878. Among its various Balkans-related geopolitical stipulations, the treaty was to see the Bosnia Vilayet receive autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire. However, none of the treaty's points ever got implemented due to opposition from the Great Powers. Treaty of San Stefano.jpg
Russian count Nikolay Ignatyev signing the Treaty of San Stefano with his Ottoman counterparts on 3 March 1878. Among its various Balkans-related geopolitical stipulations, the treaty was to see the Bosnia Vilayet receive autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire. However, none of the treaty's points ever got implemented due to opposition from the Great Powers.

All of the events of the so-called Eastern Crisis from 1875 until 1878, echoed resoundingly among the population of Sarajevo. By late winter 1878 it became clear that circumstances for the weakening of the Ottoman grip might finally be in place. The Treaty of San Stefano — imposed on 3 March 1878 by the victorious Russia upon the defeated Ottomans — confirmed that line of thinking. Among other provisions, it stipulated the following points:

  • full independence from the Ottoman Empire for the principalities of Serbia and Montenegro,
  • de jure autonomy (de facto independence) within the Ottoman Empire for the Principality of Bulgaria, and
  • the autonomous province status for the Bosnian Vilayet within the Ottoman Empire.

Muslim population of the Bosnia Vilayet welcomed the promised greater autonomy thus rekindling their autonomy aspirations.

However, international reaction to the Russian-initiated treaty was mostly negative. The Great Powers, especially British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, were unhappy with the extension of Russian power while Austria-Hungary was additionally disappointed as the treaty failed to expand its influence in the Bosnia Vilayet. In the 21 April 1878 memorandum to the European powers, the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Andrássy stepped up his Bosnia policy by making a case for a Habsburg occupation of Bosnia Vilayet, arguing that an autonomous Bosnia within the Ottoman Empire lacked the means to overcome internal divisions and maintain its existence against its neighbours. [6] The United Kingdom soon decided to support Austria-Hungary's aspirations in Bosnia.

Many of the smaller nations also had objections to the San Stefano Treaty — although satisfied with receiving formal independence, Serbia was unhappy with the Bulgarian expansion, Romania was extremely disappointed as its public perceived some of the treaty stipulations as Russia breaking the Russo-Romanian pre-war agreements that guaranteed the country's territorial integrity, and the Albanians objected to what they considered a significant loss of their territory to Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro.

On the other end of the reaction spectrum, in addition to Bosnian Muslims, Bulgarians were just about the only nation ecstatic with the treaty.

Local reaction to the prospect of Austro-Hungarian occupation

Because of its almost universal rejection by the global powers, the San Stefano Treaty ended up never getting implemented, in the end only setting the stage for a conference organized by the German Empire chancellor Otto von Bismarck three months later in Berlin. Uncertainty over San Stefano brought about rumours of imminent Austro-Hungarian occupation in Sarajevo as early as April 1878, well before the Berlin Congress, evoking different responses from the city's various ethnicities and classes.

Bosnian Croats welcomed the notion of being occupied by their Roman Catholic co-believers Austrians and Hungarians, while Bosnian Serbs, on the other hand, were universally opposed to it, finding little reason to cheer the replacement of one foreign occupier with another — Serbia's old nemesis, the Habsburg Monarchy. [5]

Bosnian Muslim reaction to the prospect of Austro-Hungarian rule was divided along social lines. Hoping that a smooth transfer of power would enhance their value to the new rulers and help preserve their privileged status and property rights, wealthy and influential landowners, despite being closely tied to the officials of the waning Ottoman regime, were now open to Austro-Hungarians. On the other hand, most of the Muslim religious authorities and lower-class Muslim population were stridently opposed, seeing nothing good in being ruled by a foreign non-Muslim power that has no plans of granting autonomy to Bosnia. [5]

Mehmed-beg Kapetanovic Ljubusak.jpg
Mustaj-beg Fadilpasic.png
Despite close ties to the Ottoman regime, wealthy Sarajevo Muslim landowners like Mehmed-beg Kapetanović Ljubušak and Mustaj-beg Fadilpašić were receptive to the idea of Austro-Hungarian occupation.

This economic class divide among the Bosnian Muslims on the Austro-Hungarian issue was clearly evident around Sarajevo during spring 1878. Members of Sarajevo's Muslim landowning elite showed public support for the Austro-Hungarian occupation at a meeting in April 1878 at the Emperor's Mosque, reasoning as one cleric put it that "it was evident the Ottoman Empire had neither the power nor the support to rule the land" before further asserting that "a ruler who cannot control his land also loses claim to his subjects' obedience and since no Muslim would want to be a subject of Serbia or Montenegro, Austria-Hungary is the only viable alternative". [7] It didn't take long for the lower-class Muslim hostility to a possible Habsburg rule to surface as in April and May 1878 a petition called the Allied Appeal written by two Islamic conservative religious officials from the Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque's madrasa — effendi Abdulah Kaukčija and effendi Muhamed Hadžijamaković — got circulated around Sarajevo marketplaces. In addition to urging all the population of Bosnia to unite in opposing the possible Austro-Hungarian occupation, the petition bore the imprint of Islamic religious conservatism, advocating making shari'a the exclusive law of the land, demanding the dismissal of all Christian officials from the still ruling Ottoman service, appealing for formation of an assembly to control the government, calling for removal of bells from the recently built Serb Orthodox Cathedral, and requesting demobilization of Ottoman troops. [7] Although the petition reportedly included some five hundred signatures, most Muslim landowners refused to sign it. [7]

Reflecting personal politics and worldviews of two Sarajevan Islamic conservatives, well-respected in the local Muslim community, the petition reportedly also became a tool in the rivalry among the Ottoman officials in Bosnia. According to the Austro-Hungarian consul Wassitsch, the Ottoman governor in the Bosnian Vilayet Ahmed Mazhar Pasha planned on using the petition to gain popular support in a bid to keep his post in the event of Bosnia Vilayet acquiring autonomy as specified in the San Stefano Treaty. Mazhar's biggest obstacle in this regard was his own deputy Konstan Pasha, a Greek man of Orthodox faith who was uniformly described amongst the foreign consuls in Sarajevo as the only Christian to hold high office in the Ottoman civil administration in Bosnia. The petitioners' demand to eliminate all Christians would thus have removed Konstan from office and secured the Muslim Mazhar's post had the San Stefano agreement been implemented. [8]

When several upper-class Muslims as well as some Serbian Orthodox leaders learned of the petition, they urged its redrafting without the explicitly anti-Christian demands, all of which was done and a new version, written by an Ottoman official, began to be circulated. The new petition, formally submitted to governor Mazhar on 2 June 1878, was seen as a win for the leading Muslim landowners who managed to purge it of its anti-Christian and anti-reform provisions. Its only two points were now a demand that a popular assembly rule the land and an appeal to all groups to unite in opposition to Austro-Hungarian occupation. [8]

Formation of the People's Assembly

In the days following the petition's formal submission to the Ottoman governor, members of Sarajevo's Muslim elite undertook further mediation steps in order to build consensus among the factionalized local players. They managed to persuade representatives of lower-class Muslims, including religious leaders, to join a single all-Muslim assembly, followed by succeeding in getting governor Mazhar to allow the assembly to meet in the government headquarters building, the Konak. [8]

The new body, called the People's Assembly (Narodni odbor), met for the first on 5 June with an all-Muslim membership consisting of thirty individuals from the Muslim landowning elite and thirty lower-class Muslims (religious functionaries, artisans, and shopkeepers). In an appeal to the central Ottoman government, the assembly blamed Bosnia's woes on Istanbul's mismanagement and the government's failure to respond to individual complaints. The assembly's address continued by claiming that the distant government had driven them to form their own representative body to address local needs with local officials, and warned that the population is would defend their land with their lives in the event of a war. It was necessary, the appeal went on, to retain permanent garrisons of Ottoman troops in the Bosnia Vilayet, and in any case the government could neither feed nor clothe its own troops. Finally, the appeal protested the punishment of deserters and their families. [9]

In its very first week, the assembly underwent four changes in composition as elite Muslims sought a formula that would include all ethnic, religious and financial class groups yet preserve their own dominance. [10] On 8 June, the all-Muslim assembly appealed to Ottoman authorities to recognize a representative body of twelve Muslims, two Catholics, two Orthodox, and one Jew, all of them from Sarajevo, plus one Muslim and one Christian delegate from each of the six administrative districts (kotars) in the Bosnian Vilayet — a proposed composition that followed the makeup of the regional council, the consultative body formed in the 1860s that had governed city of Sarajevo since 1872. According to the proposal, matters affecting a single confession were to be handled by delegates from that group, and common matters would be decided in plenary sessions. The assembly's proposed composition. Governor Mazhar approved the assembly's new composition after consulting with the regional council. [10]

The reconstituted, now multireligious, People's Assembly had its first meeting on 10 June in the Konak. Serbian Orthodox nominees originally refused to participate, claiming that the scheduled meeting fell on an Orthodox holiday, however, after the date was changed, they agreed to participate but declined to take an active role. [10] At the first meeting, Serbian Orthodox representatives claimed they were underrepresented and the assembly honoured their request by inviting the Sarajevo Serbian Orthodox Commune to name three more delegates. The three selected were Risto Besara, Jakov Trifković, and Đorđe Damjanović. Still, though the Muslim lower classes were represented, most of the assembly members from all confessions came from the small group of local upper class leaders who enjoyed honorary Ottoman titles and close ties to the government. [10]

Wealthy Muslim landowner effendi Sunulah Sokolović who was also the regional council member was chosen as the People Assembly's president. Other Muslim members included Mustaj-beg Fadilpašić (son of the wealthy landowner and political leader Fadil-paša Šerifović), Mehmed-beg Kapetanović (wealthy landowner who came to Sarajevo from Herzegovina), effendi Mustafa Kaukčija, effendi Ahmet Svrzo, effendi Ragib Ćurčić, etc. Serbs were represented by merchant Dimitrije Jeftanović and effendi Petraki Petrović. Croats had friar Grga Martić and Petar Jandrić. And finally Jews were represented by effendi Salomon Isaković who made a good living by selling provisions to Ottoman troops. [10]

Steered along and finessed by the Muslim upper class members who had the most representation and influence, all the while avoiding divisive topics, the assembly managed to cobble together minimum unity and consensus throughout the month of June 1878. The big test would prove to be coming up with a coherent reaction to the decisions of the Berlin Congress that was simultaneously taking place.

Treaty of Berlin

The Congress of Berlin's final legal act on 28 June 1878 was the Treaty of Berlin. Among its various stipulations, the treaty gave Austria-Hungary a legal mandate to occupy the Ottoman Empire's Bosnia Vilayet. Berliner kongress.jpg
The Congress of Berlin's final legal act on 28 June 1878 was the Treaty of Berlin. Among its various stipulations, the treaty gave Austria-Hungary a legal mandate to occupy the Ottoman Empire's Bosnia Vilayet.

At the Berlin Treaty negotiations, the Austro-Hungarian side was represented by the k. und k. foreign minister, count Gyula Andrássy, who was keen to expand the Imperial and Royal influence in the Balkans.

As a show of force and statement of intent, simultaneously with the start of the treaty negotiations in mid June 1878, the Austro-Hungarian Army began a major mobilization effort with more than 80,000 troops on its southeast border, ready to go into Bosnia Vilayet. For this action, the Austro-Hungarian authorities made a point of predominantly stacking their troops with k. und k. subjects of South Slavic origin — ethnic Croats and ethnic Serbs — feeling the Bosnia Vilayet population wouldn't be as outraged with the occupation after seeing their own kin amongst the invading troops.

On 28 June 1878, the terms and stipulations of the Treaty of Berlin were announced and according to its 25th point, Austria-Hungary received a mandate to "occupy and administer the Bosnian Vilayet", [11] but not to annex it. [12] The treaty thus officially nullified the provision of the San Stefano Treaty that foresaw autonomy for the Bosnian Vilayet.

The Austro-Hungarian takeover

Austria-Hungary asserted its intent to occupy Bosnia Vilayet in a telegram from Andrassy's foreign ministry received by the k. und k. consul in Sarajevo Konrad von Wassitsch on 3 July with Ottoman officials in the Konak also learning of the impending occupation from telegrams that arrived shortly after Wassitsch's. To some, such an open manner of announcing the Berlin Treaty's occupation terms was indicative of Vienna's assumption that they would be welcomed with open arms by the local population. [13]

Local reaction to the Berlin Treaty

By the next morning, city was abuzz with rumours and trepidation as Wassitsch made rounds to visit with upper-class Muslim landowners and main leaders of the local People's Assembly Mehmed-beg Kapetanović, Sunulah Sokolović, and Mustaj-beg Fadilpašić, reminding them of the generous benefits that would come to those loyal to the new regime. Each of the three promised to work toward a peaceful reception for k. und k. troops, though at the same time expressing fears of a lower-class uprising in opposition to new occupiers. Later that day Wassitsch went to see Ottoman governor Mazhar who told him he would support armed resistance to Austro-Hungarian rule unless receiving orders from Istanbul to the contrary. At a regional council meeting the same day, Mazhar called on the councilors to support a resistance movement. This created a strange situation with Sokolović, president of the People's Assembly and a member of the regional council, taking the unusual step of opposing the governor's recommendation by advocating peaceful transition of power to Habsburg officials while Fadilpašić and Kapetanović backed him at the same meeting. Public demand for resistance among the lower-class masses was in evidence during the same day as a large green flag was hoisted in the courtyard of the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque. [14]

Local imam turned brigand Hadzi Lojo led the July 1878 popular revolt against the impending Austro-Hungarian occupation by first taking control of the People's Assembly from the upper-class local Muslims and then confronting local Ottoman authorities. Hadzi Lojo.jpg
Local imam turned brigand Hadži Lojo led the July 1878 popular revolt against the impending Austro-Hungarian occupation by first taking control of the People's Assembly from the upper-class local Muslims and then confronting local Ottoman authorities.

The next day, 5 July, following noontime prayers, Muslim worshipers continued lingering around the surrounding streets as they listened to local rabble-rouser Salih Vilajetović better known around the city as Hadži Lojo, deliver a stirring speech during which he called for Wassitsch and the rest of the Austro-Hungarian consulate staff to be expelled from the city. [15] A tall, strong, and physically imposing 44-year-old agitator, Hadži Lojo was quite well known locally having for years served as imam at a small Sarajevo mosque and taught religion at a trade school. [16] He also had a history of unlawful activity having recently returned to Sarajevo after being expelled from the city and living as a brigand for three years. [17] Sharing both his vocation and educational background with Hadžijamaković and Kaukčija, the two Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque clerics behind the April Petition, Hadži Lojo very well understood the local Muslim political and religious culture in which he was operating and skilfully exploited it to galvanize the crowd into action. Following his impassioned speech, Hadži Lojo unfurled a green flag [13] and led the crowd from the mosque to Konak across river Miljacka in order to confront governor Mazhar and other Ottoman officials. The demonstrators' fury was directed as much at Sultan Abdul Hamid II as it was at the Berlin Treaty decisions with the bellowing cry of 'You can give away Stambul, but not Bosnia'. [18] Mazhar addressed the angry mob from the Konak's balcony, appealing on them to disperse, but after they failed to adhere he made a concession by agreeing to dismiss current Ottoman military commander, an unpopular figure promising that he'll be replaced with a Sarajevo-born new commander. Satisfied for the moment, the Muslims dispersed at dusk.

By 7 July, governor Mazhar heard from his Istanbul superiors, receiving only vague instructions to retain public order pending conclusion of negotiations with Austria-Hungary. Lacking firm direction, he continued to take a permissive stance towards the possibility of local armed resistance to Habsburg rule.

Crowds of local Muslim men continued their daily gatherings to demonstrate in the courtyards of Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and the Sultan's Mosque. They wanted Sarajevan Christians and Jews to join them too who out of concern for their safety mostly retired to their homes when the demonstrations began. Within days, on 9 July, the crowd managed to force the People's Assembly to relocate from Konak to Morića Han across the river — a move seen as assembly's symbolic transition from a representative body under elite Muslim control to an activist gathering under the influence of the conservative religious establishment and lower-class Muslims.

On 10 July, the crowd demanded a change in the People's Assembly composition so that groups claiming underrepresentation got more members. According to Wassitsch, this particular demand was instigated and pushed through by pan-Slav activists opposing the Habsurg rule, leading to an increased number of Serb Orthodox members in the reconstituted assembly so that the new body consisted of 30 Muslims, 15 Serbs, 3 Jews, and 2 Croats. Most Muslim landlords abandoned the assembly within days, the only exception being Mustaj-beg Fadilpašić who was persuaded to stay and got elected new president.

With most upper-class Muslims gone, the assembly came under Hadži Lojo's control who essentially turned it into the organizing body for armed resistance to Habsburg occupation. It was divided into two committees, one to assemble troops and the other to secure provisions and funds. Seeking credibility with Ottoman authorities, Hadži Lojo assembled an armed retinue that he moved around with, even showing up in Konak to seek immunity from Mazhar for past misdeeds. After receiving it, Hadži Lojo even made the humiliated governor pay him a token cash payment in recognition of his name being cleared.

The fading Ottoman authority in Sarajevo received some reinforcements on 12 July with four battalions dispatched from Istanbul under new military commander Hafiz Pasha. With governor Mazhar Pasha's credibility gone, commander Hafiz Pasha was now the only authority in the city. Though at first urging the local population to accept Austro-Hungarian occupation, he then sat at subsequent regional council meetings in enigmatic silence, leaving the foreign consul to ponder his personal attitude towards possible armed resistance as the invasion drew near. Although his predecessor banned the People's Assembly meetings, Hafiz didn't interfere when the meetings resumed on 18 July with preparations for armed resistance their only order of business as Sarajevo settled into an uneasy peace.

With the Hadži Lojo-controlled Assembly getting ready for a fight unimpeded by Ottoman authority, the Ottomans still retained the weapons and ammunition depots as confrontation between Hafiz and Hadži Lojo seemed inevitable. On 25 July Hadzi Lojo led a crowd in front of Konak demanding access to weapons depots from Hafiz who told the crowd he would wire the request to Istanbul, which won him another 48 hours.

Civil disorder

On 27 July, further evidence of Austro-Hungarian invasion sparked unrest as consul Wassitch distributed copies of the Emperor's proclamation about the occupation. In his report, Wassitch noted seeing shopkeepers closing up before noon in order to go home and claim weapons as the final assault on the Ottoman authority in the city was being prepared by Hadži Lojo. Just after noon, a crowd led by the charismatic populist leader showed up in front of Konak where Ottoman officials and local Muslim elite fled for protection. Local Muslim conscripts from nearby barracks deserted their units, joining the armed mob. Around 4 p.m. Hafiz's remaining Ottoman force tried to clear the street next to the Konak building, but the crowd, now swelled with defecting soldiers, fought back as two groups exchanged close range fire with an estimated twenty casualties on both sides. In the end, the Ottoman force managed to clear the street, but was also faced with more local soldiers deserting its ranks.

As night fell on the city, Hafiz's dwindling troops returned to barracks while resurgent crowd outside began cutting water lines to the barracks, blocking the delivery of provisions, and cutting telegraph wires hoping to isolate the city and prevent Ottomans from summoning reinforcements. The People's Assembly began a meeting at the Sultan's Mosque that continued long into the night.

The People's Government is proclaimed

At daybreak, Hafiz made one last attempt at restoring his authority by leading his loyalists to the Bijela Tabija fortress high above the city but got nowhere as more of his troops deserted. He got captured and escorted back down into the city where he was turned over to Hadži Lojo and put in jail; the crowd prevailed and by 9 a.m. took control of the Ottoman weaponry.

The same day, the crowd's leaders, led by members of the People's Assembly, met at the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque to proclaim the People's Government (Narodna vlada). Despite dominant sentiment favouring the election of native Bosnians, the leaders persuaded the crowd to elect Hafiz as governor thus providing a thread of continuity with the previous regime. Muhamed Hadžijamaković, one of the instigators of the April petition, was made the Commander of the People's Army while an emissary was dispatched to Wassitch to assure him that no harm would come to him, to others in his consulate, or to other consuls in the city. [19] Within hours, he received another visit from the People's Government leaders, who asked if he wished to depart for the Adriatic coast along with the party of deposed Ottoman officials. Wassitch opted to stay.

Later that day, the two former rival and top Ottoman officials, Mazhar Pasha and Konstan Pasha, were stopped by the crowd as they departed Sarajevo for Istanbul via Mostar. While in the hands of the angry crowd, they were robbed of all their possessions and their lives were threatened. [19] Reacting to the capture, Wassitsch proposed that all five consuls appear together at the Konak to ask that the two pashas and other prisoners be delivered to them, however the other four consuls (meeting without Wassitch because troops loyal to the crowd surrounded the Austro-Hungarian consulate) felt that any demarche involving Wassitsch was bound to inflame the crowd. [20] Instead they agreed to send a conciliatory letter asking that the lives of the two captive Ottoman officials be spared. Just in time, Hadzi Lojo personally intervened to rescue the two officials. They both eventually reached Istanbul and returned to their careers in the Ottoman bureaucracy. [20]

Austro-Hungarian Army invades Bosnia

On 29 July 1878, one day after the People's Government was proclaimed in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian Army under the command of feldzeugmeister (general) Josip Filipović, an ethnic Croat from Gospić, entered the Bosnia Vilayet at four different crossings. Filipović's idea was to first secure the major transportation arteries and the largest towns. Approaching from the south, west, and north, the k. und k. forces planned to suppress the resistance by conquering Sarajevo, its organizing center.

In Sarajevo, the resistance fighters, overwhelmingly made up of local lower-class Muslims received some unexpected reinforcements as the local Serbs, encouraged by their religious and community leaders, began taking up arms and joining the resistance. This sudden cooperation between Muslims and Serbs contrasted remarkably with their grinding conflict of several years earlier during the Herzegovina Uprising when Serbian Orthodox kmets rose up against Muslim beys. However, according to historian Misha Glenny, the sudden alliance between Muslims and Serbs reflected a temporary coincidence of interests, rather than a basis for a future alliance. [21]

With a force of some 80,000 soldiers in total, 9,400 of which were 'occupation troops' under feldmarschallleutnant (lieutenant-general) Stjepan Jovanović, another ethnic Croat from Lika and former k. und k. consul in Sarajevo from 1861 until 1865, whose role was to move across the border from Austrian Dalmatia into Herzegovina and hold places once they're taken by the main fighting force, Filipović's Austro-Hungarian Army moved swiftly down through northern Bosnia, seizing Banja Luka, Maglaj, and Jajce, [22] encountering several successful resistance ambushes along the way that slowed down their progress. [21] On 3 August a group of hussars was ambushed near Maglaj on the Bosna river, prompting Filipović to institute martial law. Austro-Hungarian consul Wassitsch fled Sarajevo with his staff and belongings on 4 August after receiving a written directive from the revolutionary government to leave the city. [12] He led a convoy of about one hundred consular employees and Austro-Hungarian citizens on the road to Mostar. The people's government provided armed escorts to ward off dangers posed by Muslim irregulars along the way. Wassitsch and his entourage safely reached the border near Metković several days later. Meanwhile, feldmarschallleutnant Jovanović's second occupying force, the 18th Division, had been advancing up along the Neretva river, capturing Mostar on 5 August. [23] [24] On 7 August a pitched battle was fought near Jajce and the Austro-Hungarian infantry lost 600 men.

Within days of crossing the border into Bosnia, feldzeugmeister Filipović came to the conclusion that the Austro-Hungarian 'soft strategy' of capturing town-by-town is not going to work and that the aim of occupying Sarajevo would require more manpower and more brutal tactics, so he requested and received reinforcements. [21] The k. und k. force more than tripled with 268,000 men now on the ground trying to occupy Bosnia Vilayet. [21]

Well equipped and well informed about the towns, roads, and bridges in their path, the Austro-Hungarians heavily defeated the local resistance at the battle of Klokoti near Vitez on 16 August. [22] Two days later they reached the outskirts of Sarajevo and began installing cannons on the hills surrounding the city.

Battle of Sarajevo

Austro-Hungarian forces storming Sarajevo on 19 August 1878. Storming of the castle of Sarajevo 1878.JPG
Austro-Hungarian forces storming Sarajevo on 19 August 1878.

On the morning of Monday, 19 August around 6:30am, the Austro-Hungarian Army began its artillery bombardment of Sarajevo using 52 cannons with feldzeugmeister Filipović committing a sizable portion of the total 14,000 troops under his command for this action [25] [26] to the hills surrounding the city.

Then, the infantry came into the city from the western direction of Ilidža, facing a spirited resistance from some 5,000 citizens of Sarajevo who heeded a call to arms. Pushing the resistance fighters towards the more densely populated city center, gunfire welcomed the invading troops “from every house, from every window, from every doorway…even women were taking part” [22] as close combat ensued for individual streets and houses with children also resisting in addition to women. [27] A particularly vicious battle took place near the Ali Pasha's Mosque with some 50 resistance fighters losing their lives with some executed right on the spot. [26]

By 1:30pm [22] the Austro-Hungarians essentially won the battle as the resistance fighters got pushed outside of the city towards Romanija and by early evening Sarajevo found itself under full Habsburg control. Around 5pm Filipović triumphantly marched into the Konak, the Ottoman governor's residence, thus symbolically commencing the Austro-Hungarian era in Sarajevo and Bosnia. [25]

The Austro-Hungarian casualties in Sarajevo were reportedly 57 dead and 314 injured. [22] On the resistance side around 400 casualties were reported. [26] The k. und k. principal force moved on to Herzegovina and the Sanjak of Novi Pazar.

Austro-Hungarian revenge in Sarajevo

On 23 August, only four days after conquering Sarajevo, feldzeugmeister Filipović impaneled a special court with summary judgement authority. Over the following several days nine Sarajevo Muslims were hanged for instigating the uprising or leading the resistance against Austro-Hungarian troops.

The first condemned to death was Muhamed Hadžijamaković. While approaching the Konak to give himself up to Filipović, he was captured, then taken to a trial the same day, sentenced to death by mid-afternoon, and finally around 4 p.m. taken to be hanged from an oak tree. Though over sixty years of age, large and powerful Hadžijamaković managed to wrest a revolver from one of his captors and fire twice, injuring several guards in the ensuing struggle. Bloodied and unconscious from a knife wound, mortally wounded Hadžijamaković was hanged after sunset. [5]

The next to be executed was Hadžijamaković's fellow cleric and resistance leader Abdulah Kaukčija. He too received a brief hearing on 24 August before being sentenced to death by hanging the same day. Over the next few days seven more Muslim resistance fighters — Avdo Jabučica, hadži Avdaga Halačević, Suljo Kahvić, hadži Mehaga Gačanica, Mehmed-aga Dalagija, Ibrahimaga Hrga, and Mešo Odobaša — were hanged as the resistance was still gaining strength in areas outside Sarajevo.

Austro-Hungarian rule

Sarajevo in 1901 Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary postcard 3.jpg
Sarajevo in 1901

The Habsburg period of Sarajevo's history was characterized by industrialization, development, westernization, and social change. It could be argued that the three most prominent alterations made by the Habsburgs to Sarajevo were to the city's political structure, architecture style, and education system.


The immediate political change made by the Austrians was to do away with what were then regarded as outdated Ottoman political divisions of the city, and put in place their own system which was centered on major roads.

1880s architectural expansion

A building built during the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. Sarajevo - Art Nouveau building.JPG
A building built during the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo.

Unexpectedly aided by a fire that burned down a large part of the central city area (čaršija), architects and engineers who desired to modernize Sarajevo rushed to the city. The result was a unique blend of the remaining Ottoman city market and contemporary Western architecture. For the first time in centuries, the city significantly expanded outside its traditional borders. Much of the city's contemporary central municipality (Centar) was constructed during this period.

Architecture in Sarajevo quickly developed into a wide range of styles and buildings. The Cathedral of Sacred Heart, for example, was constructed using elements of neo-gothic and Romanesque architecture. The National Museum, Sarajevo brewery, and City Hall were also constructed during this period. Additionally, Austrian officials made Sarajevo the first city in this part of Europe to have a tramway.


As the Austro-Hungarians believed theirs was a far more modern and advanced nation than the Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo was quickly westernized and adapted to their standards. A western education system was implemented, and Sarajevo's inhabitants started writing in Latin script for the first time.

The end of the Habsburg dominance in Sarajevo

By 1910, Sarajevo was populated by just under 52,000 people. Just four years later the most famous event in the history of Habsburg Sarajevo, and perhaps in the city's history, occurred. The Assassination in Sarajevo, during which a young Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on their visit to the city, started a chain of events that would lead to World War I. At the end of the Great War and as part of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Austria-Hungary ceased to exist. Sarajevo became part of the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia.


After World War I Sarajevo became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Though it held some political importance, as the center of first the Bosnian region and then the Drinska Banovina, it was not treated with the same attention or considered as significant as it was in the past. Outside of today's national bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, virtually no significant contributions to the city were made during this period.

During World War II the Kingdom of Yugoslavia put up a very inadequate defense. Following a German bombing campaign, Sarajevo was conquered by the Ustase Croatian fascist Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of Nazi Germany. On October 12, 1941 a group of 108 notable Muslim citizens of Sarajevo signed the Resolution of Sarajevo Muslims by which they condemned the persecution of Serbs organized by Ustaše, made distinction between Muslims who participated in such persecutions and whole Muslim population, presented information about the persecutions of Muslims by Serbs and requested security for all citizens of the country, regardless of their identity. [28] Many of the city's Serbs, Romani, and Jews were taken at this time and killed in the Holocaust bringing a sad end to the prominence of Sarajevo's Jewish community. In 1941, the atrocities committed by the Ustase were strongly condemned by groups of Sarajevo's citizens.

The Sarajevo resistance was led by a NLA Partisan named "Walter" Perić. Legend has it that when a new German officer came to Sarajevo and was assigned to find Walter, he asked his subordinate to show him Walter. The man took the officer to the top of a hill overlooking the city and said "See this city?", "Das ist Valter". Walter was killed in the fighting on the day of Sarajevo's liberation, April 6, 1945. He has since become something of a city icon.

Following the liberation, Sarajevo was the capital of the republic of Bosnia within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The communists invested heavily in Sarajevo, building many new residential blocks in Novi Grad Municipality and Novo Sarajevo Municipality, while simultaneously developing the city's industry and transforming Sarajevo once again into one of the Balkans' chief cities. From a post-war population of 115,000, by the end of Yugoslavia Sarajevo had 429,672 people.

Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. They are widely regarded as among the most successful winter Olympic Games in history. They were followed by an immense boom in tourism, making the 1980s one of the city's best decades in a long time.


The Avaz Twist Tower is the headquarters of the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni avaz Sarajevo Twist Tower.jpg
The Avaz Twist Tower is the headquarters of the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni avaz
Bosmal City Center Bosmal City Center Sarajevo.jpg
Bosmal City Center
Sarajevo has managed to hold another major winter sport competition since the 1984 games. Opening ceremony of EYOF 2019 08.jpg
Sarajevo has managed to hold another major winter sport competition since the 1984 games.

The history of modern Sarajevo begins with the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia. The city then became the capital of the new state, as the local division of the Yugoslav People's Army established itself on the surrounding mountains. That day, massive peace protests took place. In the midst of the largest one, a protester named Suada Dilberović was shot by unidentified gunmen from a nearby skyscraper.

The following three years found Sarajevo being the center of the longest siege in the history of modern warfare (See: Siege of Sarajevo). The city was held without electricity, heating, water, and medical supplies. During this whole time, the surrounding Serb forces shelled the city. An average of 329 shell impacts occurred per day, with a high of 3,777 shell impacts on July 22, 1993.

Asides from the economic and political structures that were destroyed, the besieger targeted numerous cultural sites. Thus places such as the Gazi Husrev-beg's Mosque, Cathedral of Jesus' Heart, and the Jewish cemetery were damaged, while places like the old City Hall and the Olympic museum were completely destroyed. For foreigners an event that defined the cultural objectives of the besiegers occurred during the night of August 25, 1992, the intentional shelling and utter destruction with incendiary shells of the irreplaceable Bosnia National and University Library, the central repository of Bosnian written culture, and a major cultural center of all the Balkans. Among the losses were about 700 manuscripts and incunabula and a unique collection of Bosnian serial publications, some from the middle of the 19th century Bosnian cultural revival. Libraries all over the world cooperated afterwards to restore some of the lost heritage, through donations and e-texts, rebuilding the Library in cyberspace.

It is estimated that 12,000 people were killed and another 50,000 wounded during the course of the siege. Through all this time however, the Bosnian Serb army was unable to decisively capture the city thanks to the effort of the Bosnian forces inside it. Following the Dayton Accords and a period of stabilization, the Bosnian government declared the siege officially over on 29 February 1996. Most Serbs left Sarajevo in early 1996.

The next several years were a period of heavy reconstruction. During the siege, nearly every building in the city was damaged. Ruins were present throughout the city, and bullet holes were very common. Land mines were also located in the surroundings.

Thanks to foreign aid and domestic dedication, the city began a slow path to recovery. By 2003, there were practically no ruins in the city and bullet holes had become a rarity. Sarajevo was hosting numerous international events once again, such as the extremely successful Sarajevo Film Festival, and launched bids to hold the Winter Olympic Games in the city in the not so distant future.

Today Sarajevo is one of the fastest developing cities in the region. Various new modern buildings have been built, significantly the Bosmal City Center and the Avaz twist tower which is tallest skyscraper in the Balkans. A new highway was recently completed between Sarajevo and the city of Kakanj. The near-future for Sarajevo is hoped to hold continued development of the city, including construction of impressive modern buildings and population growth. The Sarajevo City Center which started construction in 2008 opened early to public in 2014. If current growth trends continue, the Sarajevo metropolitan area should return to its pre-war population by 2020, with the city following soon after. At its current pace, Sarajevo won't surpass the million resident mark until the second half of the 21st century. The most widely accepted and pursued goal was for the city to hold the Winter Olympics in 2014, the bid failed but Sarajevo managed to hold the 2019 European Youth Olympic Winter Festival being the second time to hold a major sports event in winter after the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.

The Trebević Cable Car transportation system was rebuilt following the use of the same during 1984 Winter Olympic Games. The Trebević cable car is one of Sarajevo's key landmarks. The cost involved was 12,109.000 [29] euros and it was completed and opened to public on 6 April 2018. [30] Cable cars and equipment have been donated by the Graechen ski centre in Wallis Canton, Switzerland. The selected cable cars are ideally suited to the project and meet the highest quality standards. The new Trebević cable car contains six sitting cabins and between 11 and 13 pillars, with a capacity to transport 1,200 passengers an hour. [31] Further monetary donations (approx 3,000,000 euros) have been made by Dutch national Edmond Offermann. [32] [33] The new cable car is able to transport at a faster speed then its older system.

During the development of the city in the modern era, the city experienced numerous earthquake aftershocks coming from nearby neighbour nations. Between late-2019 and 2021, Sarajevo has been hit with six aftershocks. The first three were in November 2019 from a earthquake in Nevesinje which came shortly after the Albania earthquake. On 22 March 2020, Sarajevo was hit with a weak aftershock from an earthquake in Zagreb at 6:22 AM (CET). The fifth aftershock came on December 29, 2020 from a earthquake in Petrinja. On March 3, 2021, the most recent ever aftershock was reported.

See also

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Mustafa-beg Fadilpašić was the first Mayor of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was appointed mayor in 1878 after more than 14,000 Austro-Hungarian troops, led by Josip Filipović, captured Bosnia and Herzegovina from the declining Ottoman Empire. He remained the mayor for the last 14 years of his life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Austro-Hungarian campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878</span> 1878 conquest of Ottoman-controlled Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary

The campaign to establish Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina lasted from 29 July to 20 October 1878 against the local resistance fighters supported by the Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Hungarian Army entered the country in two large movements: one from the north into Bosnia, and another from the south into Herzegovina. A series of battles in August culminated in the fall of Sarajevo on the 19th after a day of street-to-street fighting. In the hilly countryside a guerrilla campaign continued until the last rebel stronghold fell after their leader was captured.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vilayet Printing House (Sarajevo)</span> Official printing house of the Ottoman Vilayet of Bosnia (1866–1878)

The Vilayet Printing House, originally named Sopron's Printing House, was the official printing house of the Ottoman Vilayet of Bosnia from April 1866 until the occupation of the province by Austria-Hungary in August 1878. It was the second printing house that operated in the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, founded in Sarajevo almost 350 years after the Goražde printing house ceased its activity. Its founder was Ignjat Sopron, a publisher and printer from Zemun, who sold the establishment to the Government of the Vilayet of Bosnia in October 1866. Its foundation happened in the context of modernising and Europeanising Tanzimat reforms in the Ottoman Empire. Its principal aim was to issue an official gazette of the vilayet and publish textbooks for the elementary schools of Bosnian Serbs and Croats, thus stopping their import from the Principality of Serbia and the Austrian Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hadži Lojo</span>

Salih Vilajetović, known as Hadži Lojo was a Bosniak leader in Sarajevo in the 1870s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Sarajevo (1878)</span>

At the end of the Russo-Turkish War during the Congress of Berlin, the Treaty of Berlin was established which in article 25 gave Austria-Hungary the responsibility to occupy and administer the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina indefinitely while it still stayed under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. A campaign was organized to establish Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 29 July 1878 which saw mostly combat against local resistance fighters supported by the Ottoman Empire. The Austro-Hungarian army ultimately reached Sarajevo on 19 August 1878 and prepared to take the city.


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