Lying north of the River Miljacka and forming the original heart of Sarajevo’s Old Town (Stari Grad), Bascarsija is a vibrant, bustling Oriental bazaar where several mosques and hammams (baths) date back to 1462, when the country was under the Ottoman rule. Starting life as a caravanserai, with accommodation for travelers and stabling for horses, its foundations were laid by Isa-Beg Ishaković, who was the first Ottoman governor of Bosnia. Over time, Bascarsija grew into a labyrinthine district of cobbled alleyways and shaded lanes, and by the 17th century it was a thriving trading hub with thousands of workshops practicing scores of crafts from coppersmiths to potters and jewelers, all existing amid the mosques and minarets.
Despite an 1879 fire destroying almost half of the bazaar, today its intriguing spider’s web of pedestrianized backstreets spans out from the landmark 19th-century Sebilj Fountain. Many of the alleyways and are still crammed with cluttered artisan stores spilling over with copper pots, gold, ceramics and hand-embroidered shawls, as well as cozy little cafés offering eastern delicacies such as stuffed dolmas and meat-filled burek.
Located in Old Town (Stari Grad), Bascarsija is always open and accessible.