Brusa Bezistan

Brusa Bezistan is surely one of the prettiest buildings from the Ottoman period in Sarajevo. Built in the heart of Baščaršija in 1551 by Rustem Pasha Opuković, Grand Vizier and son-in-law to Suleiman the Magnificent, it served as a place to sell silk produced in Bursa, the Turkish city that this bazaar is named after.


This monumental stone structure has six cupolas, and there were entrances and spaces for shops facing all four cardinal points: Ćurčiluk Veliki St. (north), Bazardžani St. (west), Kundurdžiluk St. (south) and Abadžiluk St. (east).

The bazaar didn’t just sell textiles, but also household items and smaller pieces of furniture. During his stay in Sarajevo in the 17th century, travel writer Evlija Čelebi described the building with these words:

“…The main streets are clean and cobbled, and there is a covered bazaar with cupolas that has been built from sturdy material. It contains all manner of Indian, Sindhi, Arabic, Persian, Polish and Czech goods. A countless variety of valuable items to be sold are brought on horseback by merchants from Dubrovnik and the great Venice…”.

Given that there were frequent fires in Sarajevo, the most important city documents of that period were deposited inside two of the bazaar’s special stone niches.

The Museum of Sarajevo

The Museum of the City of Sarajevo was founded in 1949 with the goal of preserving the city's historical and cultural heritage. It comprises a central building, depots and five annexes: the Museum of Sarajevo 1878-1918 (founded in 1953 as the Mlada Bosna Museum), the Jewish Museum (1966), Svrzo's House (1960), the Despić House (1960) Brusa Bezistan (2004).

While it was damaged during the Siege in the 1990s, it was later renovated and made an annex of the Museum of Sarajevo in 2004. with an entrance off Abadžiluk St.

Bezistan’s permanent exhibit comprises a chronological display of archeological pieces from pre-history, antiquity and the Middle Ages, and the upstairs exhibit shows items from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian periods.

Besides items from Butmir (a Neolithic settlement), and Mycenaen pottery dating from the iron age (from Debelo Brdo), the museum also houses the Ilidža patera (200 BCE), fragments of a clay bowl showing the oldest depiction of a lily found in BiH, as well as valuable examples of equipment used by Ottoman soldiers….

The most popular item is a model of Baščaršija between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian periods, which was done by modeler Husein Karišik in 1953 under the guidance of historian Hamdija Kreševljaković. Many of the objects depicted were destroyed after WWII, and many more changed their original purpose.

Other models on display include one of Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque (1932), and another of Vratnik’s Miščina Mahala, made under the supervision of Juraj Neidhardt, an architect who pushed for the preservation of Baščaršija’s authentic look.

The entire Brusa Bezistan complex (also known as Rustem Pasha's Bezistan or Little Bezistan) became a National Monument of BiH in 2016.