Article 25 of the Treaty of Berlin defined the mandate of Austria-Hungary over Bosnia and Herzegovina, which after fierce resistance by the local population, especially in Sarajevo, became the occupation province under the formal sovereignty of the Sultan, but from the Annexation (1908) it became a part of the Habsburg Empire – the Dual Monarchy – Austria – Hungary until the 1st of December 1918., i.e., until the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
In that period, Sarajevo as the country’s capital, i.e., a separate administrative unit divided into seven municipal units, became with its council and city government the administrative center under control of the Government’s Commissioner.
The former Oriental town, Sarajevo was transformed into a European city.
This process was marked by many visible changes in all spheres of life. For centuries the city itself and the border area had been at the crossroads of military, sociopolitical, religious, and cultural interests and conflicts, which were even intensified by the succession of two empires being poles apart in many respects.
The population of Sarajevo, the alpha and omega of the overall life, although still the object of history, in religious terms is divided into Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians, (Roman) Catholics, Israelities – Jews and others, but not distinctly split.
Over the coming four decades, its composition underwent manifold changes through long migrations or natural growth. In terms of numbers, in 1879 the city had 21,377 inhabitants, in 1885 – 35,083, in 1910 – 51,919, and in 1918 about 59,000, which was a threefold increase.
Dominant in numbers the Muslim population on the eve of the occupation made up three quarters of total number of inhabitants and it gave a tone to the social life but in 1910 it dropped only one third. Over the comparatively short period, the Austro-Hungarian rule caused a real culture shock – a “blitz krieg” of its own kind of the architectural Europeanization of such scope that the great Noble Prize winner for belles letters defined it as ‘architectural abortive undertaking of Central Europe”, because the authorities “built narrow streets, bleak houses with dark halls”.
In this case of Sarajevo, the justification of the theory of distance may be beautifully confirmed. Overall changes of the city outlook had a tone of emphasized professionalism and concern of about both the old and the new.
The new authorities in Sarajevo, despite the antipathy they were met with, had a positive attitude towards the monuments. The damaged Emperors Mosque was not only promptly rehabilitated (1879), but its interior was also ornamented. The whole period was characterized by the planned rebuilding of the found and new building projects for empty or vacated spaces as well. The consequences of natural disasters were not only rehabilitated, they also caused a number of moves of the authorities, which achieved positive effects visible still today.
The disastrous fire (caused on the 8th of August 1879 by the recklessness of the shopkeeper Schwartz, whose candle set a barrel of spirit on fire, and the blaze destroyed a large area around today’s Hotel “Europe” – 304 houses, 434 shops, 135 buildings on 36 streets from Gazi Husrev-bey's Bezistan (covered market) to Latin Bridge) let to the adoption of the first regulation plan for one part of the city completed by the Building Department of the Country’s Government and signed as early as the 10th of November 1879.
Completed with time, the legislation which had to be passed by the City Council and Parliament (from the height of buildings up to two floors on the left bank of Miljacka to the categorization of the streets into “four classes” – wide 11.25, 9, 7.5 and 6m respectively) seems to have struck the fortunate balance between the old and new in the practice of a group of eminent architects (the most important were two Josips – Josip Vancaš and Josip Pospišil) and constructors.
With the systematic measures of the administration, the old was protected and reconstruction.
For example, the Central Commission for the Preservation of Heritage, as early as 1881 repaired Šeher Ćehaja Bridge, damaged in a flood;
Very important work were carried out by the architect Ćiril Iveković on Ali Pashas Mosque, one of the most beautiful and valuable sacral buildings, in 1894; in 1895 the ornaments of Gazi Husrev-bey's Mosque were renovated.
Over the four decades, the European building style was evident in the construction of both residential and large public buildings:
A special ensemble of edifices built in that period was of sacral nature, which will be enumerated chronologically with a remark that by far the largest number belonged to the Catholic Church.
Explanations are manifold and they may be summarized in the information that a regular Catholic hierarchy was established in Bosnia in 1881, that the First Archbishop Dr. Štadler, developed exceptional building activity, and the fact that the Catholic Church never been more active in its millennium-long history:
The Miljacka has never been a big river, but there were times it flooded the city and inflicted great damage (1881).
It took years to regulate its course (1886-1897). Over years of works (1889-1900), the spring Mošćanica River was capped, the first modern water supply system was laid and put to use, the following year 1901, it was the water supply system of the Kovačići catchment, extended in 1910.
In the 1890s, besides the modern modern water supply system, the major part of the sewers network was laid (1896-1903). As for the municipal infrastructure, we mention only a few dates and projects which, although embryonically and gradually, transformed Sarajevo, in terms of that time, into a modern city, confirming “by themselves” the thesis of its positive transformation:
In economy, for a long period until 1878, crafts had been one of highly developed economic branches, therefore the most important.
The number of crafts and streets, were only one kind of craft was located, went up to dozens, but the process of stagnation was noticeable even before the arrival of the Austrian-Hungarian regime. From 1879, the artisans, owning to the present elements of developed capitalists production, had to adapt to the new circumstances, or they ran a risk of closure. In this sphere, the process, went in both directions.
The breakthrough of the liberal tendencies characteristic of the first phase of capitalism put the major part of the guild and of those living on home manufacture into an inferior position, so that trade and building became the major economic activities in the near future. Parallel with the changes of positions of trade and crafts in Sarajevo, after the occupation, only some branches of processing industry developed, primary because of big building projects, but also as a need to satisfy a growing market for consumables.
As time passed, industrial production prevailed in Sarajevo and beyond, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For comparison reasons, on the eve of the occupation, only one enterprise in Sarajevo operated industrially (Gerdučo’s brewery at Kovačići).
Mention of only some of the industrial facilities built in Sarajevo from 1878 will illustrate that segment of economy:
A number of industrial plants, of smaller or bigger capacity and significance, also operated in the city (The Wire-drawing and Nails Mills, Railway Workshop, Asher Alkalay’s Tannery as the only one in the whole country, the first Bosnian-Herzegovinian factory for vegetables and fruit processing – Pehar, Alkalay’s Paper Goods, etc.).
In the field of catering industry, the concern of the authorities about this branch of economy deserves a mention. It developed gradually with the building and opening of small eating-houses, inns, restaurants, Bosnian coffee houses (Turkish style), but also about a dozen modern ones (European style).
By the end of the period, six modern hotels were in function (Evropa, 1892; The Grand Hotel building was completed on the 2nd of May 1895, but the following year its purpose was changed.
The National Bank was housed in it to remain there still today – near the “Eternal Fire”, the Central Hotel – Aya Pashas Palace – 1897, the Radetzky, the Royal, the Keiserkrone, the Imperial – 1913) hotels. Except the last one, all the hotels were kept by foreigners as leasehold. At Ilidža, i.e., in the broader city area, there were three hotels: the Austria, the Hungary, and the Bosnia.
Beside those modern hotels, guests had at their disposal the old caravanserais, partly adopted (the Kreštalica in Ferhadija Street, the Morića Caravanserai, the Kolobara, the Besarin Caravanserai in the Old Town and a few “local” hotels: The Gazi – today “Stari Grad”, the Sarajevo in Ćemaluša Street and the Herzegovina at the Railway station).
In the culture in the broadest sense, the Austro-Hungarian administration left remarkable traces.
The administration and its cultural activities as a whole, for a long time bore the ironic epithet of Kulturtrager – bearers of culture (still today there are some relapses thereof).
Unquestioningly, the engagement was „dosed“ according to the needs of the authorities, but the overall achievement of its cultural policy could not be disputed. Here as well, we will partially illustrate the achieved, bearing in mind that the general level of underdevelopment (e.g. literacy as the measure of the status) was not overcome to any significant degree, which should be explained by the begining of processes of modernisation of the overall life. In 1879, the Goverment opened so-called community (inter-religious) schools , two for boys and one for girls.
The first primary school was in the building of the Muslim Lower Secondary School at Bembaša, the Shari’a Law School was established in 1887 (educating future Qadis – judges), and on the 19th og July 1888, in the vicinity of the mentioned primary school, the Muslim People’s Reading Room (kiraethana) was opened in the Oriental style.
The foundation were laid on Serb school (Divinity school) on the fourth of October 1897, two years later the General-Program Secondary School was completed in Obala Street, and on the 1st of October 1912, the building of the Business School was opened.
At that time, only two scientific institutions were active: the National Museum (established in 1889) and the Institute for the Balkan Studies (1904). This institution not only the construction of its magnificent edifices (the 4th of October 1913), but with the engagement of a group of the most eminent archaeologists, botanists, ethnologists, and with its publication Herald soon attained the wide renown.
The seats of all national cultural societies established in that period were in Sarajevo:
By the end of the period, the Sarajevans could watch silent films, as the cinema, the “Apolo”, was opened (the 1st of October 1912), and the “Imperial” cinema, too, with the construction of the Napredak Palace (on the 5th of October 1913).
Also those time were times of the first processes were the first forms of association – choral association: in 1887 – Austrian “Mannergesansverein”, Serb – “Sloga” (1888), Croat – “Trebević" (1893), Jewish – „La Lira“ (1900). Muslims were out of these courses, but the mentioned reading room (kiraethana) was the first society of its kind (1888).
By the nature of o things, some time later (by the middle and late nineties) the first Muslim, Serb and Croat political organisations were established, as well as trade unions and workers movements. In 1898, the railway workers organised themselves.
The first workers general assmebly was held in Sarajevo on the 27th of August 1905. That same year, the Main Workers Union was established, while Social-Democratic Party of BiH (on the 28th of June) grew from the trade union movement.
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead (while traveling in an open-topped car) in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins coordinated by Danilo Ilić.
The Assassination took place near the Latin Bridge (at some point in the future to be named by the assassinator “Princips bridge”, and today to be reversed to its original name, the Latin Bridge), where there is a museum (Museum of Austro-Hungarian Period - Sarajevo 1878 – 1918) located in honor to this historical event, which in future will be marked as an “spark” which started a fire, called World War One.
The First World War (1914 – 1918), in modern history of Sarajevo (and Bosnia and Herzegovina), was the second out of the series of pivotal events, which so abruptly and roughly stopped all the processes and essentially affected the other taking place until today: 1941 – 1945, and 1992 – 1995.