At the end of the 1930s Sarajevo began to expand westward along the bank of the Miljacka and city authorities decided to build a new place of worship for the increasing number of Orthodox Christians who were living there.
Aleksandar Deroko had completed another project, which would be used for the church. He also designed Sarajevo’s Chapel of the Vidovdan Heroes, where the remains of the members of Mlada Bosna who had participated in the Sarajevo Assassination were buried.
Deroko’s design was in a Mediterranean style, taking inspiration from the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Ras, near Novi Pazar. Built in the late 8th-early 9th century, it is the oldest church in Serbia.
He used this style, which had been intended for a church in Split, but this project was abandoned at the last minute, even after the foundation stones had been laid. Instead, the design would be used for the church in Sarajevo.
The church has a circular layout and is made from white limestone. There is a hidden bell and blind arcades in the façade. It is covered in Mediterranean tile-cheremite and the interior was painted by the famous Montenegrin painter, Jovan Zonjić.
It was completed early in 1940 and the temple was consecrated on September 8 of that year. There was a great celebration, with about 50,000 worshippers from all over the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, as well as many bishops, guests from other faiths, representatives of the authorities….
The church was opened by the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Gavrilo, and Mayor of Sarajevo, Muhamed Zlatar.
Every year since its founding, aside from 1941-1945 and 1992-1995, the church has celebrated its christened Slava, the Sacred Transformation of the Lord. This marks the time of year when the new grape harvest is blessed and it is believed that all of nature undergoes a transformation, heralding the arrival of autumn.
During WWII, authorities with the Independent State of Croatia had the church pillaged and closed and it was badly damaged during the Siege of Sarajevo (1992-1995).
After the last war, the church underwent a thorough renovation, which was done in phases. It is now considered one of the prettiest temples in the Dabrobosanska Archdiocese.
Picasso and Le Corbusier
Aleksandar Deroko (1894-1988) studied architecture and art in Belgrade, Rome, Prague, Bern and Paris, where he socialized and worked with some of the most influential artists of the day, like Pablo Picasso and the architect Le Corbusier. Deroko was a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, professor at the University of Belgrade, author of several books, recipient of many awards….