Sarajevo is the place where East meets West. Sarajevo is sometimes called the Jerusalem of Europe. Sarajevo is the political, social and cultural center of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a prominent center of culture in the Balkans, with its region-wide influence in entertainment, media, fashion, and the arts.
Baščaršija is old part of the Sarajevo city where history and culture come together in most unbelievable way. Baščaršija was established and built by the Isa-beg-Ishaković in the 15-th century. The word Baščaršija comes from Turkish word “baš” which translates roughly to main and the second part of the word “čaršija” is translated to street, combined those two words make the name Baščaršija which means main street.
Because of big fires that took the city in 19-th century Baščarsija is two times smaller than it used to be also Communist authorities wanted to destroy Baščarsija completely in the 1940’s but luckily the plans were canceled and it still stands proudly today. Baščaršija is located on the northern bank of the river Miljacka, municipality Old Town Sarajevo. Several important history objects are located on Baščaršija like Gazi Husref-beg mosque and watch- tower. Today Baščaršija is the main tourist attraction in Sarajevo.
Before the Ottoman empire arrived and occupied Sarajevo the biggest settlement was rural square Tornik, which was located on the intersection where Ali-pašina mosque is located today. Baščaršija was established in the year 1462. when Isa-beg Ishaković built han (eng. Hotel) and around it many stores. In that time most of the population of the Sarajevo was living around the Careva mosque. Because of that Isa-beg Ishakovic built a bridge over the river Miljacka and that way connected main settlement in sarajevo with business center , Baščaršija. Around the main gate a new čaršija (Eng. Street) was formed, Bezerdžana.
To the west another čaršija (Eng. Street) is formed with name Kazaza, and to the north two more with names Sedlara and Sarača ( today’s street Sarači) Most important buildings which are built in this period are mosque’s. Famous Baščaršijsku mosque, was built by Havedža Durak 1528. Gazi Husref-beg built his mosque in year 1530. Gazi Husref-beg also built many structures in Baščaršija, like Madrasah (eng. Religious School), library, hanikah (perz. hanikah – boarding school for sufi student (dervish) – Religious structure), hamam (Turkish bath), Bezistan market, Morića han (Turkish Coffe shop), watch-tower and many other structures. Gazi Husref-beg was buried in harem of his mosque. By his tomb there is a tomb of his freed slave and first mutevelia (man who took care of the mosque) Murat-bega Tadića. Baščaršija was greatest at the second half of the 16-th century. There was about 80 different crafts organized in strong guilds.
Baščaršija was divided by different crafts so that one type of related crafts was in one street like blacksmiths ( Kovači, Kazandžiluk, Sarači ). In this period a whole range of commercial buildings was built, like Bezistan market, hanova ( hotels ). Sarajevo was a very important center of trading on Balkan, Sarajevo had 4 Bezistan markets ( today there are still Gazi Husref-begov Bezistan and Bursa Bezistan). There were colonies of the Mlečani and Dubrovčani. In that time Baščaršija had around 12000 trade and craft stores. In Sarajevo in year 1640 there was and earthquake. In 1644 and 1656 there were many fires in the city.
The famous travel writer Evlija Čelebija in year 1660. wrote “In Baščaršija there is only around 1080 trade and craft stores which are the beauty figure of Sarajevo. The Baščaršija is by itself very attractive and constructed according to plans.”. However in year 1697. there was break in of the Eugen Savojski, he burned and pillaged the whole city. Only a few buildings survived.
Until the 19-th century the area of the city of Sarajevo expanded very little. With the occupation of the Austro-Hungarians 1878. many of the foreign architects wanted to turn Sarajevo in a modern European city. Incineration of the city helped them greatly which almost destroyed the whole city, except the part that still stands today. This is how today’s famous border between Baščaršija and Ferhadija street is born. With the liberation of Sarajevo in 1945, the new City People’s Committee made the decision that Baščaršija gradually collapsed, considering that the old shopping center has no role in the modern city. However, Baščaršija managed to survive and in the seventies it has taken on a modern standard.