The name of this center, as well as the entire neighborhood that extends further to the east, takes its name from Skender Pasha, an Ottoman governor who had a trading center with 11 shops, caravanserai, palace, soup kitchen and tekke built here in 1499.
In 1518, his son, Mustafa Bey Skenderpašić, had BiH’s first cupolated mosque built next to his father’s tekke.
When Bosnia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the lead roof was removed and replaced with a copper one, which had never been done before, and the cupola collapsed. The rest of the structure had fallen into disrepair by 1935, leaving only the minaret, which was removed in 1960, when KSC Skenderija was constructed.
Josip Broz Tito opened Skenderija
The new center was opened by then-President of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. The ceremony took place on November 29, 1969, which was celebrated as Republic Day back then, and included a special screening of the film, The Battle of the Neretva.
This huge complex was designed by the architects, Živorad Janković, Halid Muhasinović and Ognjen Malkin, and that year, Borba, a Belgrade newspaper, named it the best architectural work in all of Yugoslavia.
Skenderija hosted the figure skating competitions and hockey matches during the XIV Winter Olympic Games, and in years to come it was a venue for other prestigious sporting events, including the World Table Tennis Championships (STENS), the European Basketball Championship Finals, Qualifying games for 1970 FIBA World Championship, the Parlov-Greene boxing match….
Dom Mladih is a facility that operates as part of KSC Skenderija and takes up more than 7,000m2.
Not long after opening, Dom Mladih became a popular spot for youth. The hall can accommodate 2,000 guests, the amphitheater can seat 250 and there’s the Kaktus Disco Club, which was later symbolically called “Vučko”, after the mascot for the Sarajevo Olympic Games.
This facility provided Sarajevo with a place where young people could be creative and where emerging pop and rock stars and groups got their start. These groups and singers would later become big names on the local music scene: Bijelo Dugme, Dino Merlin, Plavi Orkestar, Crvena Jabuka....
Dom Mladih suffered heavy damage when it was shelled and burned in 1992 and the rest of KSC Skenderija was also badly damaged during the last war.
Cultural, sports and fair venue
In the years following the war, Skenderija resumed its function as a cultural, sports and fair venue and Dom Mladih reopened in 2007.
KSC Skenderija now hosts sporting events, cultural manifestations, fairs and congresses and the “Underground City” has many shops, eateries and cafes.
Skenderija is also home to the Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, the City Gallery – Collegium Artisticum and the Charlama Gallery of Modern Art.
The plaza in front of Skenderija has recently gained a brighter appearance and there is a sculpture, called “Teta Razapeta” by Sarajevans, that welcomes arrivals with open arms. This Figura na Stolici is the work of BiH sculptor, Alija Kučukalića and, for decades, it has served as a meeting point in town.