Baščaršija is Sarajevo's old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city. Baščaršija was built in the 15th century when Isa-Beg Isaković founded the town. The word Baščaršija derives from the Turkish language. The word "baš" which is "baş" in Turkish literally means "head", in some contexts however also "primary", "main", "capital" and "čaršija" which is "çarşı" in Turkish means "bazaar" or "market". In the mid 15th century when the city, in its present incarnation, was founded the market was two thirds bigger than it is now and it crossed the river, branching out in all directions.
At this time there were over 1000 shops with each street being named after a certain profession i.e. Kazandžiluk means copper and this is where the coppersmiths did their work. There were over 80 different crafts practiced here but now many of the old professions have died out though the talented coppersmiths remain.
Baščaršija is located on the north bank of the river Miljacka, in the municipality of Stari Grad. On Baščaršija there are several important historic buildings, such as the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and sahat-kula. Today Baščaršija is the major tourist attraction of Sarajevo.
When you cross the river Miljacka you can see amazing City Hall „Vijećnica“. This large and impressive building was built between 1892 – 1894 and opened officially in 1896.
After World War II, Vijećnica became home to the National and University Library of BiH.
On the nights of August 25-26, 1992 during the last war, Vijećnica was set ablaze. Nearly 90% of the library's collection went up in flames and the building became a symbol of the Siege and tragedy of Sarajevo.
Vijećnica’s reconstruction got underway in 1996 and the official opening took place on May 9, 2014, the same day that Europe Day and the Day of Victory over Fascism are observed.
Vijećnica is the most extravagant building constructed in Sarajevo during Austro-Hungarian occupation and serves as a symbol of the meeting of world civilizations.