Capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina has always been known for its numerous Sebilj’s, fountains and šadrvans (small fountains) from which, clean water used to refresh and revitalize Sarajevo people and numerous passengers and visitors.
Today there are also fountains, but in much smaller number. With its beauty, dignity, graciousness, Sebilj at Baščaršija still defy the time, as a real beauty amongst the surrounding buildings. Keyword “Sebilj” has Arabic origin and means the “building on the path in which there is water”.
In the present day form, Sebilj was built back in 1891, but has been very recently rebuilt. At Sarajevo there were more Sebilj’s by which the city was recognizable. Catastrophic fire in 1697 destroyed all the Sebiljs in Sarajevo. In 1753 Bosnian vizier hadži Mehmed-pasha Kukavica built the sebilj in the old Sarajevo čaršija (district), where the water for the Sebilj was brought from the Gazi Husrev-Bey's water supply.
Sebilj, trading spot at Bаščaršija
The Sebilj was burnt in the fire in 1852, and the new one, and the present day one was built in the 1891 by the architect Alexander Wittek.
It was made upon the models of Seblji’s from the 16th century. Inside the Sebilj in the beginning there use to be the officer who filled cymbals (containers) with water and gave it to the thirsty passers-by. Homeland of Sebilj is Arabia. Their construction in Bosnia and Herzegovina began with the arrival of Osmanlis. Travel-writer Evlija Čelebi mentioned that in 1660, in Sarajevo were 300 Sebilj’s, and to date only one has been saved, the one on Baščaršija square.
Travelers of purpose, and ones who are not, travel-writers used to say:
„Primeval love of water, is deeply rooted in the consciousness of every citizen of Sarajevo.“ „There, man can think he can live forever, because on thousand places accross Sarajevo there are springs (fountains, Sebiljs) of water flowing from the sources of eternity“
singed Nekresija, most popular Sarajevo poet from the late 16th and beginning of 17th century. Sebilj at Baščaršija was made of stone, wood and copper. „On concrete foundations is placed eight-angled stand covered with fine made stone, above is rich and nicely decorated wooden structure with mušepci (wooden bars) with the openings.
It gives a feeling of plastics to the object. Roof construction is characterized by large canopy with dome, covered with copper, as the final element, on whose top there is alem. Water drains to two large monolithic stone troughs”.
Some minor repairs on Sebilj were made on 1981, and then in 1984, before the Olympics were held in Sarajevo.
Due to the shelling of the town in 1992, Sebilj was damaged by shrapnel, and the minor repairs were made 1997, when mušepci were repaired and painted wooden construction.
In 2006 Sebilj was completely restored, and was brought back to its original outlook.