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History of Sarajevo!! - Sarajevo

Sarajevo

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08.02.2006.

History of Sarajevo!!

Here are the most important facts about Sarajevo's history.
On the left you can see a drawing of Franz Ferdinand!!
Ancient times!!
Archeologists can safely say that the Sarajevo region has been continuously inhabited by humans since the Neolithic age. The most famous example of a Neolithic settlement in the Sarajevo area is that of the Butmir culture. The discoveries at Butmir were made on the grounds of modern day Sarajevo suburb Ilidža in 1893 by Austro-Hungarian authorities during construction of an agricultural school. The area’s richness in flint was no doubt attractive to Neolithic man, and the settlement appears to have flourished. The most stunning aspects of the settlement are the unique ceramics and pottery designs which identified the Butmir people as a unique culture. This was largely responsible for the International congress of archeologists and anthropologists meeting in Sarajevo in 1894.

The next prominent inhabitants of Sarajevo were the Illyrians. The ancient people that considered most of the West Balkans as their homeland had several key settlements in the region, mostly around the river Miljacka and Sarajevo valley. The Illyrians in the Sarajevo region belonged to the tribe “Daesitates”, a war-like bunch who were the last to resist Roman occupation. Their defeat to the Roman emperor Tiberius in 9 a.d. marks the start of Roman rule in the region. The Romans never built up the region of modern day Bosnia that much, however it is known that the Roman colony of Aquae Sulphurae existed on top of present day Ilidža, and was the most important settlement of the time.
Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages Sarajevo was part of the Bosnian province of Vrhbosna near the traditional center of the kingdom. Though a city 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 however, “Tornik” was a very small xafsplace surrounded by a proportionally small village not considered very important by Ragusan merchants.

Others meanwhile say that Vrhbosna was a major city located in the middle of modern day Sarajevo. Indeed, Papal documents say that in 1238, a Cathedral to Saint Paul was built in the city. Even disciples of the famous Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius had stopped by the region, establishing a church at “Vrelobosna”. 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.
Early Ottoman Era
Sarajevo as we know it 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 Ottoman governor of Bosnia, Isa-Beg Ishaković, transformed whatever cluster of villages there was there into a city and state capitol by building a number of key objects, including a mosque, a closed xafsplace, a public bath, a hostel, and of course the governor’s castle (“Saray”) which gave the city its present name. The mosque was named “Carova Džamija” (the Tsar’s Mosque) in honor of the Sultan Mehmed II. With the improvements Sarajevo quickly grew into the largest city in the region. Many Christians converted to Islam at this time.

Under the wise leadership of people such as Gazi Husrev-beg (the city’s greatest donor who built most of what is now the Old Town) Sarajevo grew at a rapid rate. Sarajevo became known for its large xafsplace and numerous mosques, which by the middle of the 16th century were over a hundred in number. 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 a lowly 14,000 people. Things went mostly downhill for Sarajevo from there.
Late Ottoman Era
In 1699 prince Eugene of Savoy led a succesfull raid on Sarajevo. After his men looted all that they could, the city was set to the torch. In a mere day, nearly the whole city was destroyed except for a handful of neighborhoods, some mosques, and the orthodox church. Numerous other fires weakened the city as well, so that by 1807 it only had some 60,000 residents (although this was still considerably more than New York City at the time).

In the 1830s the area around the city was ground to several battles of the Bosnian rebellion, led by Husein Gradaščević. Today, a major city street is named “Dragon of Bosnia” in his honor. The rebellion however, failed, and the crumbling Ottoman state remained in control of Bosnia for several more decades.
Habsburg Empire
In 1878, Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary. Architects and engineers who endeavored to rebuild Sarajevo as a modern European capital rushed to the city. They were unexpectedly aided by a fire that burned down a large part of the central city area (čaršija). This has resulted in a unique blend of the remaining Ottoman city xafs and contemporary western architecture. Sarajevo hosts some shiny examples of Secession and Pseudo-Moorish styles that date from this period.

The Austria-Hungarian period was one of great development for the city as the Western power brought its new acquisition up to the standards of the Victorian age. Various factories and other buildings were built at this time, and a large number of institutions were both Westernized and modernized. For the first time in history, Sarajevo’s population began writing in Latin script.
In the event that triggered the World War I, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June, 1914 by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Anti-Serb violence flared up throughout the city, although Bosniak religious leaders urged restraint and even personally gave refuge to some Serb families.
History of Sarajevo in Yugoslavia
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. Many of the city's Serbs 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.
Modern Sarajevo
The history of modern Sarajevo begins with the declaration of independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, from Yugoslavia The city becomes the capital of the new state, as the local division of the Yugoslav People's Army establishes itself on the surrounding mountains. That day, massive peace protests take place. In the midst of the largest one, a protestor named Suada Dilberović is 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 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 beseigers 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 enemy forces were unable to decisively capture the city thanks to the heroic defense of the government army inside it. Following the Dayton Accords and a period of stabilization, the Bosnian government declared the siege officially over on February 29, 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 are being built, significantly the Bosmal City Center, which upon completion will be the tallest skyscraper in the Balkans. A new highway was recently completed between Sarajevo and the city of Visoko. The near-future for Sarajevo is hoped to hold continued development of the city, including construction of impressive modern buildings and population growth. 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 is for the city to hold the Winter Olympics in 2014, and if that bid fails perhaps in 2018 or 2022.

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