Architecture & Buildings

Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina, City of Sarajevo

The City Hall (Vijećnica), the largest and most representative building of the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo, was purpose-built as the headquarters of the city and authority. The initial design was composed in 1891 by the architect Karl Parik, but criticisms by the minister, Baron Benjamin Kallay, caused him to stop working on the project. Alexander Wittek, who worked on the project in 1892 and 1893, fell ill and died in 1894 in Graz, and the work was completed by Ćiril Iveković. The edifice was built in a stylistic blend of historical electism, predominantly in the pseudo-Moorish expression, for which the stylistic sources were found in the Islamic art of Spain and North Africa. Building works began in 1892 and were completed in 1894, at a cost of 984,000 crowns, with 32,000 crowns provided for fixtures and fittings. It was formally opened 20 April 1896, and handed over to the City Authority, which occupied the property until 1949, when it was handed over to the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the night of 25 to 26 August 1992 the City Hall was hit by quantities of heavy artillery and incendiary bombs, burned out and largely destroyed, causing incalculable damage to the physical structure of the building and to the library holdings. The majority of the books could not be saved from the flames. The structural repair of the City Hall was carried out in two stages: 1996-1997 (financed by a donation from the Republic of Austria), and 2000-2004 (financed by a donation from the European Commission).