The Ottoman’s introduced Islam into Bosnia and built several mosques. Many of the 16th-century buildings remain today. Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, has lots of mosques near Bascarsija, the old bazaar area, and even more in the surrounding hills. Here are some of the most beautiful mosques to check out on your trip to Bosnia.
Gazi Husrev-Bey was Sarajevo’s governor for 20 years between 1521 and 1541. Gazi commissioned many buildings in Sarajevo, including his mosque in 1530. The central dome reaches 26 metres (85 foot); the minaret is 47 metres (154 feet). Today, Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque has some of the best Classical Ottoman architecture. It’s also the largest in the country. Several influential Bosnians, including politicians, rest in the adjoining cemetery. Non-Muslims can enter the building outside of prayer time. You’ll see the Sarajevo Clock Tower next to the mosque built in the 17th-century. Many tourists and some locals think it’s broken, and in typical Sarajevian fashion has never been repaired. You might think the same when you hear the clock striking midnight in the evening. It’s not broken. In fact, the claim to fame is that it strikes at sundown making it one of the only remaining clocks in the world on lunar time.
Ferhat Pasha ruled over northern Bosnian employing the best architects and masons to build the most beautiful mosque in the world. Construction ended in 1579, and they probably did make the most beautiful mosque in Bosnia. According to legend, Ferhat decided to lock the masons inside the minaret to stop them from building something more beautiful than his. Architecturally, the exterior has a typical classical Ottoman design with the central dome reaching 18 metres (59 feet) and the minaret 43 metres (141 feet). Compared to others, Ferhat Pasha Mosque is relatively small. The outside has a courtyard, fountain and prominent Bosnians buried in the graveyard. Unfortunately, in 1993 Bosnian Serbs demolished the building in the recently proclaimed Republika Srpska, a region with an Orthodox Christian Serb majority. Rebuilding began in the 21st century and ended in 2016.
Bosnia’s oldest, the Emperor’s Mosque, opened in 1457 on the southern side of Sarajevo’s River Miljacka. Isa Bey Ishakovic, the governor who founded Sarajevo, built to serve the main neighbourhood. Five years later in 1462, Bascarsija opened on the opposite side of the river and became the trading centre. A new bridge connected the mosque and surrounding residential area to the Old Bazaar. Emperor’s has been rebuilt and expanded several times in the 550-year history. It started as a wooden mosque catering for the relatively few residents. Now, 500 worshipers can pray inside. And, in case you’re wondering, the mosque’s name doesn’t refer to Isa but to Mehmed the Conqueror instead. Ottoman Mehmed took Constantinople from the Byzantines. Many believe Isa Bey Ishakovic’s rests in the cemetery.
Ali Pasha was one of Sarajevo’s early governors who died in 1560. As a legacy, Ali Pasha Mosque opened in 1561. The building is a short walk west of Bascarsija near Sarajevo’s green spaces towards the city centre. As with most mosques of the time, the design is simple with a single large dome over the prayer area with three surrounding smaller ones. Ali Pasha’s suffered damage during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995). Renovation finished in 2004, and it’s now a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Governor Ferhad-Beg Vukovic ordered the mosque in the 16th century on the outskirts of Bascarsija on the corner of Ferhadija and Vladislava Skarica. Architecturally, the classical style, like others of the time, has a large dome with three smaller domes over the building’s arches. A children’s school and public kitchen once joined the main prayer hall in Ferhadija Mosque. Non-Muslims can enter. You can see several layers of paintings and murals on the wall, which date back centuries. Reconstruction ended in 2007.
Mostar’s largest mosque is also one of Herzegovina’s most beautiful. Completed in 1557 under Governor Mehmed Bey Karago, the minaret rises 35 metres (117 feet) into the air with the main dome at 16 metres (54 feet). If you’re in Mostar, walk to the north of Stari Most through the Old Bazaar area, and you’ll reach it. Karadoz Bey Mosque suffered substantial damage during World War II and the Bosnian War. Renovation finished in the early 2000s.
Not every mosque in Bosnia has the typical Classical Ottoman styles so prevalent in Sarajevo and Mostar. Instead, Turalibeg’s has a distinctive design rare in the Islamic world. Instead of a dome, the roof has a pyramid shape with an adjacent minaret. After a 2007 renovation, the mosque retains its original features with a modern style. If you like architecture and a fan of Bosnia’s mosques, check out Turalibeg’s in Tuzla.