There used to be hundreds of sebiljs (kiosk-shaped public fountains) in Sarajevo, but today the last one is found on Bascarsija square, where it serves as a major symbol of the city.

The origins of these fountains can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula and the custom of building sebiljs was brought to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Ottomans. Sebiljdzija, workers who received wages from the state or a vakuf (endowment), manned the kiosks and dispensed free water to hungry passersby. This sebilj in Barcarsija dates back to the Austro-Hungarian period. The original one, built by Mehmed Pasha Kukavica, was several meters away from where Sebilj now stands but was knocked down after being damaged during a fire.

 In the 16th century, Sarajevo used to have around 300 fountains, however, all except this one would be destroyed in the disastrous fire in 1697. In 1753, the building was renovated and one year later directly connected to the Gazi Husrev Beg city water supply. Sebilj has two stones sinks in the past they were filled with clean and fresh water. Initially, the building had an employee, usually a poor local, whose jobs were to scoop water with a cup of pots and offer them to thirsty passersby. This person also makes sure that the water is fresh and cold under the sinks and pots, which are to be kept impeccably clean. Since the water is free, passersby would give him petty cash out of gratitude and compassion.

With the arrival of the Austro-Hungarian rules, Sebilj was remodeled. The new building was designed in 1913 by Alexander Wittek. It was influenced by the oriental style Sebilj in Istanbul and has not changed in appearance since then. The octagonal pedestals made of white stone and sebil itself are made of wood, the roof dome is covered with copper and decorated with traditional Islamic ornaments. The old Saravejo custom of offering refreshing water to visitors continues through this building, and continuous water flows symbolizing the city's warm welcome to all of its guests.

1. Facing one way- the main street
2. Facing the other way- The Old Town

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Waqfs In Old Town Sarajevo

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