Sarajevo National Library
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Sarajevo’s City Hall – or Vijecnica, is the biggest and the most representative building from the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. The style was introduced to Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austro-Hungarians, in an attempt to develop a “new Bosnian” identity. Vijecnica was completed in 1896 and served as the seat of the city government until the end of World War II, when it became the National Library. Vijecnica burnt down in the night of 25th-26th August, 1992, in the recent (1992-1995) war. Over 90% of the books housed there were completely destroyed. It is currently under construction and open to public only on certain occasions.
The first project was entrusted to Mr. Karlo PARŽIK. However, Minister B. Kallay had certain remarks on the project, which the architect refused to accept, so the elaboration of the new project was entrusted to another architect Mr. Alexandar WITTEK, who was working on it from 1892 to 1893. Since the project was planned to be in pseudo-Moorish style, this architect visited Cairo twice in order to study buildings constructed in this style. His models were the mosque and the school of Hasan II in Cairo. Since this man (allegedly because of the project) got mentally sick and committed a suicide, the work on the project was continued by Ciril M. Ivekovic. With minor modifications of Wittek’s work, the project was finally finished in 1894.
The building construction started in 1892, and finished in 1894, at the time the project itself was finalized. The building was formally opened on April 20th, 1896, when Baron Ivan APEL officially assigned it to the City administration. It remained so until 1949, when it was given to the National and University Library.
The construction works cost 984,000 kronen, and, with additional 32,000 kronen given for furnishings, the total amount was more than a million kronen.
The building was constructed in a mixture of styles combining historicism and pseudo-Moorish styles. The style models are the so-called Mozarab and Moorish arts from Spain and the Maghreb. The basic construction elements are columns, walls, arches and glassed dome roofing the hall.
In the history of the western European cities, the existence of a city hall apparently represented a higher form of the city’s autonomy, a higher grade of political (municipal) autonomy. So, the city of Sarajevo got its City Hall as early as in 1896.
The first incendiary shells hit the Sarajevo Library in 1992. Fluttering dreadfully from the fire, scorched shreds of pages lit upon cars and streets across the city. People called them black butterflies.
The library was an early target, but the attack numbingly foreshadowed the worst of the ethnic cleansing to come. In languages from Persian to Arabic to Croatian, the multi-ethnic history of Sarajevo and Yugoslavia had been carefully catalogued and stored on the shelves. It was virtually all destroyed.
Since those days in late August of 1992, librarians and philanthropists have worked to restore not just the documents, the manuscripts and the books, but the memory that was attacked at that time. Physically, psychologically and spiritually re-stocking the shelves of Sarajevo.
The destroyed interior of the Bosnian National Library where thousands of priceless books and documents burned after Bosnian Serb gunners fired incendiary shells at the building in 1992, photographed here during the final days of the division of the city, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 1996.
This is a drive-in cache in the heart of Sarajevo acessible even in a wheel chair. The cache is dedicated to all the victims of the war (1992/1995) and to all those who suffer with the conflict.
[ENG] Ba gur cvcr, arne gur pbeare, ba gur fubcf fvqr.