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Emperor's Mosque Sarajevo

Sarajevo Oriental (Beautiful Interior of Emperor’s Mosque)

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.”

― Rumi

Emperor's Mosque Sarajevo
Ceiling ornaments in the Emperor’s Mosque Sarajevo

Home to most beautiful Ottoman mosques

Bosnia and Herzegovina has some of the most beautiful Ottoman mosques outside of Turkey. There are plenty to choose from on your visit, but the Emperor’s and Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque are a must. Interior design of the Emperor’s Mosque is my favorite though Gazi Husrev Bey’s is more famous. I recommend visiting both and judging for yourself.

Emperor's Mosque sub dome design
The Emperor’s Mosque boasts the largest single sub-dome design in the country

First mosque in Sarajevo

Emperor’s Mosque was the first mosque to be built after the Ottoman conquest of BiH in 1457. First settlements were built around it as well as the residence of the Sultan’s representatives and soon followed the first hammam (public bath) and a bridge that led to the mosque. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques of the Ottoman period in the Balkans.

Colorful mihrab of Emperor's Mosque
Colorful mihrab (niche) of Emperor’s Mosque

Financed by the founder of the city Isa Bey Isaković and dedicated to Sultan Mehmed the Conquerer it originally looked very different than it does today. It was considerably smaller and made out of wood. The architect is unknown, but it has been assumed that it could be an apprentice of Mimar (architect) Sinan.

Emperor's Mosque Decorations

Burned to the ground

Very soon after its construction it was burned to the ground, but was rebuilt again in 1565. This time it was dedicated to Suleyman the Magnificent and was built in the classical Ottoman style of the era. Though it was damaged and renovated a few times since, it kept its appearance to this day.

Minbar of Emperor's Mosque
Minbar – a raised platform in the front area of a mosque, from which sermons are given

The beautiful interior decorative details were conserved and restored between 1980 – 1983.

Interior of Emperor's Mosque Sarajevo
Mihrab and minbar of Emperor's Mosque
Mihrab—a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which all Muslims pray


The graveyard next to the mosque contains the graves of viziers, mulas, muftis, sheikhs, employees in the Emperor’s mosque and other prominent figures of Sarajevo.

Entrance to the minbar of the Emperor's Mosque, Sarajevo
Entrance to the minbar of the Emperor’s Mosque, Sarajevo
Know Before You Go
  • best time to visit is form Monday to Saturday around 5pm, after the prayer
  • it is free of charge, but you can leave a donation if you wish
  • make sure you are appropriately dressed (women can borrow a scarf in the mosque if they don’t have their own)
  • remove the shoes (this is a general rule in Bosnian houses as well)
  • try not to make too much noise (even in the courtyard)
  • there is always someone around who will be your host and will gladly answer your questions, but do have in mind that they are not tour guides or employees of the mosque
  • it is highly likely that all officials and young people there speak English