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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Gazi Husrev Bey complex

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Gazi Husrev Bey complex | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Europe

[Visited: May 2014]

Walking the streets of the bazaar of the Baščaršija neighbourhood, you inevitably come across the impressive complex of Gazi Husrev Bey. The Ottoman governor of Bosnia in the first half of the 16th century, he was a main contributor to the development of Sarajevo. He provided the city with a covered bazaar and a religious school, or madrassa, which are located next to, and opposite, the mosque. The madrassa, with its chimneys on top and courtyard inside, can be visited, holding a small museum with an instructive video about the life and achievements of Gazi Husrev Bey himself. But his most remarkable building is, inevitably, the mosque that carries his name.

Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The fountain outside Gazi Husrev Bey mosque has a beautiful wooden ceiling

The mosque is located right in the middle of the city, and despite its size, it still surprises when you step into its courtyard, look up at the domed structure with its slender minaret beside it. In the middle of the gated space surrounding the mosque, I find a fountain where the Muslims wash their feet before prayer; it has a richly decorated wooden ceiling. A fence protects the fountain proper in the middle. Close to the fountain is the main entrance to the mosque, a fine decorated door which remains closed outside prayer times. Carpets make the entrance look posh. A few people lie around the space outside the walls of the mosque. On the eastern side of the mosque are several mausolea, or türbe, one of which with the tomb of Gazi Husrev Bey. Behind those, there is a small garden with more, much more modest, tombs topped by turbans.

Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The Gazi Husrev Bey madras stands outside the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque

A side door provides access to the mosque itself. It is surprising to find that you do not have to take off shoes here: the floor is protected by a plastic cover. Probably my first time to walk around in a mosque with my shoes on! The downside: the visitor is only allowed to walk a small part of the interior. During the siege of Sarajevo, the mosque was hit more than 100 times, and badly damaged; the interior has been completely restored after the end of the war, and is much simpler than it once was. Here, too, the Turkish influences are obvious in the lavish paintings with bright colours and golden calligraphy. Once outside again, I walk to the western side of the mosque, where the minaret towers above the complex, and a square, stone clock tower stands nearby, with Arabic numerals. I am in the middle of Europe, yet I feel like I am in the Orient.

Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Richly decorated ceiling of the mosque with golden calligraphy
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Carpet and richly decorated door at the entrance of Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Honeycomb-shaped decorations inside the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Looking through the wooden fountain towards the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Finely decorated ceiling of the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The decorated minbar inside the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The renovated interior of the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Looking past the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque towards the clock tower
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The Gazi Husrev Bey mosque seen from a distance
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The wooden ceiling of the fountain in front of the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): Close-up of the new decorations in the Gazi Husrev Bey mosque
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The interior of Gazi Husrev Bey has been decorated after the destruction of the mosque in the siege of Sarajevo
Picture of Gazi Husrev Bey complex (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The remains of Gazi Husrev Bey are entombed in this türbe besides his mosque

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