Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque - Sarajevo

The Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina is considered the most important Islamic building in Bosnia, one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture anywhere and the most visited Islamic building in the Balkans. The mosque complex included the mosque, a madrasa (school for study of the Islamic religion), Quranic school, khanqah (a building designed for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood), soup kitchen, hospice, library, khan (roadside inn for caravans), bazaar, public baths and two tombs. It was built by Ajem Esir Ali, an architect from Tabriz who was taken as a prisoner by the Ottomans in Persia and became a chief architect in Istanbul. 
View of the mosque from the bazaar.
An evening view shows the central dome and minaret.
East side view.
Door on the west side.
A stone fence surrounds the mosque.
A beautiful cat on the fence.
View toward the west side of courtyard with portion of clocktower.
The mosque is square with a central dome. Five cupolas are over a portico which is closed in on the sides and is supported by five columns. The portico facade includes a mihrab and four windows. 
An aerial view of the mosque.
Portico with entrance and arches.
Muqarnas above the entrance.
Entrance door.
Cupola above the entrance.
A mihrab set into the portico.
The mihrab inside has seven tiers of muqarnas ornamentation. Muqarnas are a decorative device that are small pointed niches, stacked in tiers which project beyond lower tiers. The qibla wall (facing the direction of Mecca) around it is covered with painted decorations.
Mihrab with muqarnas above it. 
Minbar with muqarnas to side and above it.
Other inner muqarnas. 
The madrasa is composed of a square courtyard surrounded by 12 rooms on three sides with a domed classroom on the fourth side, facing the entrance. The entry features a six tiered muqarnas decoration. A small rectangular pool occupies the center of the courtyard. A passageway to the right of the classroom leads to the back garden. The hospice, soup kitchen, Quranic school and khanqah were removed in the 19th century. The madrasa was turned into a high school in the 1960s. A clocktower erected in the 17th century was rebuilt by the Austrians using a British clock and stands next to where the soup kitchen was. 
Gazi Husrev-beg was the grandson of Sultan Beyazid II and the provincial governor of Bosnia in 1531 when he provided the funds to build the mosque. There are a couple of domed masonry tombs to the east of the mosque where Gazi and the administrator of his endowments, Murad-beg Tardic, are buried. 
Tombs of Gazi Husrev-beg and Murad-beg Tardic
Other burial sites near the mosque.

The sadrvan, or fountain, is used for cleansing before entering the mosque. 
Sadrvan or fountain.
The minaret is 47 meters high and it has a balcony.
The balcony is easy to see when lit up at night.
This was the first mosque in the world to receive electricity and electric illumination in 1898 when the area was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the siege of Sarajevo by the Army of the Republika Srpska, from April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996, the mosque was hit by more than 100 artillery shells and was heavily damaged. Much of the money for restoration of the mosque came from Saudi Arabia and the restored mosque was missing much of the color and detail that was in the original mosque. Some claim this was because the restoration money came people belonging to an ultra conservative movement within Islam known as Wahhabism, which condemns idolatry and shrine visitation. After an outcry, a local team of conservation specialists has been restoring the mosque to its original state.  
Inside of main dome.
Closer view of center of inner dome.
Decorative band around bottom of dome.
Inside of another dome.
Closer view of the center.
Decorative circle - one at each of four corners.

Area for women to pray.
Beautiful carpet
Window shutter
An entrance.
Unusual decoration


  1. Very beautiful complex. I'd like to see it in its more colorful, ornate glory. I hope the restorationists win that battle so we will have yet another reason to visit this wonderful city.