The building was constructed to house the city administration and the construction works were financed from the funds of Sarajevo Municipality.
The City Hall is the biggest and the most representative building from the Austro-Hungarian period in Sarajevo. It burnt down in the night of 25th-26th August, 1992.
The first project was entrusted to Mr. Karlo PARŽIK. However, Minister B. Kallay had certain remarks on the project, which the architect refused to accept, so the elaboration of the new project was entrusted to another architect Mr. Alexandar WITTEK, who was working on it from 1892 to 1893. Since the project was planned to be in pseudo-Moorish style, this architect visited Cairo twice in order to study buildings constructed in this style. His models were the mosque and the school of Hasan II in Cairo. Since this man (allegedly because of the project) got mentally sick and committed a suicide, the work on the project was continued by Ćiril M. Iveković. With minor modifications of Wittek’s work, the project was finally finished in 1894.
The building construction started in 1892, and finished in 1894, at the time the project itself was finalized. The building was formally opened on April 20th, 1896, when Baron Ivan APEL officially assigned it to the City administration. It remained so until 1949, when it was given to the National and University Library.
The construction works cost 984,000 kronen, and, with additional 32,000 kronen given for furnishings, the total amount was more than a million kronen.
The City Hall building was constructed on the site of the Mustaj-pasha’s mejdan, where once two inns and a house were situated. The inns were pulled down and the house owner wanted to have his house practically carried brick by brick and rebuilt on the other side of the Miljacka opposite to the City Hall, for a bag of ducats. So was done and this house is there even today, and it is known as the INAT KUÆA (Spite House).
The building was constructed in a mixture of styles combining historicism and pseudo-Moorish styles. The style models are the so-called Mozarab and Moorish arts from Spain and the Maghreb. The basic construction elements are columns, walls, arches and glassed dome roofing the hall.
The building has a triangular foundation with a six-angled centre – the hall, the most important part of the luxurious interior topped with the glass dome. In order to comply with its function and architectural self, quite luxurious façade is applied with a representative front-side doorway. The façade is coloured red and yellow in turns with ornamental faïence boarding.
The architectural diversity of the building is followed by an adequate pictorial decoration.
The painted decorations are placed in the main stairway, walls of the main auditorium, doorway and the central hall, whilst the stained-glass showcases ornamented with floral patterns of modelling decoration, seen in the main stairway and under the dome, signify a flowery style of the building.
Sarajevo City Hall construction took the western European architecture for its model along with all the elements typical for such constructions. The CITY ADMINISTRATION, as the main office of the city authorities in free cities (those with the Charter of Freedom), has common architectural elements:
• Ground floor – loggia for a courtroom or a marketplace, and
• First floor – main auditorium and premises for meetings, a balcony or an extended balcony and a tower which was, when speaking of
Sarajevo City hall, placed on the backside of the central dome erected over the six-angled hall roofed with the glass dome.
In the history of the western European cities, the existence of a city hall apparently represented a higher form of the city’s autonomy, i.e. a higher grade of political (municipal) autonomy. So, the city of Sarajevo got its City Hall as early as in 1896.
In the year of 1912, the interior was redecorated, and, in 1984, all the stained-glass complexes and the painted sections of the interior were washed and cleaned, while the hallway, parts of the central hall, fountain beds on both sides of the entrance stairway and the stairway itself underwent restoration.