Mejtaš

“Mejtaš is a square above the city” wrote the famous Sarajevo author Miljenko Jergović. True, Mejtaš is one of the most presentable Sarajevo neighborhoods located on a hill just above the city center. Dalmatinska Street leading from Titova Street will take you straight to Mejtaš.

During the Ottoman rule there were just a few houses dotted around Mejtaš. On the large crossroads, at the top of Dalmatinska Street, there was a mosque with a harem where the dead were buried. According to custom, before burial, the coffin with the body was placed on a rectangular stone facing Qiblah during Salat al-Janazah (Islamic funeral prayers). This stone was called “mejtaš” or “dead man’s stone” which is how Mejtaš got its name.

 

Today, Mejtaš is characterized by the buildings from Austro-Hungarian period, as well as those recently constructed. At one time the largest and most beautiful building in Mejtaš was a grey two-storey house with plaster decorations in the form of a menorah and David’s letters located between Mehmed paše Sokolovića and Ivan Cankar Street. It is one of seven Sarajevo synagogues, II kal di Bilava, built by the Sephardic Charity for their own use shortly after the arrival of Austro-Hungarian Empire. The building still exists, its purpose being residential for a long time now.

Mejtaš is also home to the beautiful building of the former Olympic Museum in Sarajevo, which is partly restored but still vacant. The building was burned down during shelling in 1992, which destroyed numerous exhibits, testimonies of 14th Olympic Games held in Sarajevo in 1984.

Across the street from the museum is Bosniak High School and only a few meters away is the Catholic School Center “Sveti Josip” (St Joseph). In 1882, on this site, a congregation “Daughters of Divine Love” who were invited to Sarajevo by the first Bosnian Archbishop, Dr. Josip Štadler, initiated construction of St Joseph Institute in Mejtaš, initially just Elementary School and later Female Teacher Training School, Kindergarten and Commercial School, as well as Women’s Vocational School. St Joseph Institute raised and educated many Sarajevans up until the end of the World War II, when the authorities banned all private schools including those owned by the church. With the arrival of recent democratic changes in BiH, the Church re-opened the Catholic School center in 1994.

From Mejtaš, you can go back to the city via “Poetic Steps” near Kapitol Street. The steps are dedicated to poets who “loved, lived and suffered Sarajevo”.

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