It was built in 1581 when Rumelian Sijabuš Pasha gave the money to build a large resideantal facility for the poor Jewish comunity of Sarajevo (which was known as Sijavuš Pashas Daira, or Large Yard).
“Il Kal Vježu” (The Old Temple)
„While the Siyavush-pasha senior was the Beyler Bey of Rumellia, he came to Sarajevo in 989 H.G. (1580-81), and since the Jews were scattered in several neighborhoods of the city of Sarajevo... They were not sufficiently observant, firese often broke out among them, thus the respectable citizens pleaded in writing to the said Pasha, to move the above mentioned people from the Moslem neighborhoods. In order satisfy the plea of the Islamic community and in order not to break heart of the above mentioned people, after some consultations he had a great hostelry built, and in the end left it as a foundation to posterity, and granted permission for a Synagogue to be built next to it.“
By the end of sixteenth century in the space of Velika avlija, first Synagogue, Old Jewish temple was erected. Its original design is not known, since it was devastated by fire several times, especially in the 1697 fire, when Eugene of Savoy burned Sarajevo to the ground. Another significant fire was in 1878.
“Il Kal Vježu” (The Old Temple), Jews culture
The present features of the temple date from 1821 with its basilica with three naves; without the extensions, it was 14 meters in length and 8 meters wide, 10 meters high, with one gallery and 500 seats. It was made of stone with excellent large domes over the main nave and four smaller ones on the extensions, none of which are visible from the outside.
The old temple is founded upon massive pillars on which the galleries were constructed. On the south and east side, a pebbled courtyard is hidden by a high wall and a few alder trees. This temple is without doubt one of the most valuable Jewish cultural monuments in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
It is unfortunate that this temple has not been adopted exclusively as the Jewish museum with all the exhibits which have been preserved but instead has been used for temporary storage of the exhibits of the museum of the city of Sarajevo.