The rule of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Bosnia and Herzegovina will always be remembered for wonderful architectural structures constructed at the time. The most magnificent edifice of them all, many would agree, is Sarajevo’s City Hall, which has been one of the city’s symbols visible from any location in Sarajevo ever since it was opened in 1896. In western European cities a city hall has always symbolized a higher level of city autonomy.
Construction of the present day cultural and historic monument at Mustaj Pasha Square near Baščaršija began four years later under the supervision of architect Alexandra Wittek, and following his death, Ćiril Iveković completed the construction of the City Hall.
Sarajevo’s City Hall is a stately neo-Moorish edifice with an exquisite facade, while its basic construction elements comprise columns, walls, arches and a glass dome above a large hall, the most important part of City Hall’s luxurious interior.
As time went by, its function changed. The City Hall used to be the seat of the city government and city administration, and then it served as the seat of the District Court of Sarajevo and the seat of Bosnian and Herzegovinian Parliament. Finally, it became the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the Sarajevo siege, in the night between 25th and 26 August 1992, the City Hall was shelled and burnt. It caused irreparable damage to the library’s collections of books, whereas its interior was completely destroyed.
Restoration of the City Hall began on the centenary of its construction, and it was ceremoniously reopened on 9th May 2014, on Europe Day and Day of Victory over Fascism.