This structure, which first went by the name Atik (old) Mosque, started out as a modest place of worship with a wooden minaret, and it is said that it later acquired its current name when Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror (El-Fatih) made his final march against the Bosnian kingdom.
A gift from Isa Bey Ishaković
After making his way through Sarajevo’s čaršija, the Sultan went with Isa Bey to visit the mahala where Atik Mosque was located. When they came to the main door, Isa Bey presented the mosque to Mehmed II as a gift and, since that time, it has been known as the Emperor’s Mosque.
The neighborhood around the mosque also took the name, Careva Mosque Mahala. The residence (Dvor or Saray) for the Ottoman Governor was built in this part of town and Sarajevo took its name from this structure.
Isa Bey gave permission for a hamam (public bath) to be built next to the mosque, as well as a stone bridge, which connected the residence on the left bank of the Miljacka with Sarajevo’s Caršija, the center for handicrafts and trade, on the right.
The mosque was badly damaged in 1480 when Sarajevo was attacked by the army of the Hungarian king, Matija Korvin, which was led by the Serbian despot, Vuk Grgurević.
When a full reconstruction was carried out in 1565 during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the mosque began to take on its current appearance. It is said that the mosque, with its large dome and octagonal minaret, was built by disciples of the famous court architect, Mimar Sinan.
The harem (courtyard) of the mosque contains a well preserved cemetery, where Sarajevo’s prominent citizens have been buried for centuries. There is also the turbe (mausoleum) of Sheikh Ibrahim Bistrigija and the mezari (graves) of the Bosnian mulla, Muhamed Emin, and the muhafiz, Abdulah Pasha.
Final resting place of Sarajevo's founder
The most prominent object is the one tall nišan (gravestone) which does not have any engravings but is located directly behind the mihrab (the spot inside the mosque where the imam stands to pray, facing Mecca). It is believed that this marks the final resting place of Isa Bey Ishaković.
Careva Mosque was badly damaged during the last war and this architectural gem has recently undergone a full reconstruction.
Since the holy month of Ramadan is approaching, Careva Mosque will be ready to embrace the month of fasting in its full glory. Weather permitting, prayers will be performed outside in the mosque’s bright white courtyard.
During the last ten days of Ramadan, nighttime prayers are traditionally prayed at the mosque, and this year a special program is planned for the time between teravia prayers and the late night prayers.
As special attention is given to working with youth, the mosque will once again be organizing iftars and interesting lectures for young people.
There will be a special program on the 27th night of Ramadan and, after an entire night of prayers, 1,500 sehuras (the meal eaten before starting the fast) will be distributed.
So if you’d like to really experience Ramadan in Sarajevo, we highly recommend that you visit Sarajevo’s oldest mosque.