By Medina Malagic – Sarajevo
The Vijecnica, or city hall in Sarajevo is considered the epitome of pseudo-Moorish architecture. It was built during the Austro-Hungarian period and once served as the seat of the city government until the end of WWII. Afterwards, Vijecnica became the National Library. During the siege of Sarajevo in the early 1990’s, Vijecnica was shelled and suffered serious damage, and almost 90 percent of the books that were contained in the library were destroyed from the resulting fire.
Now, 20 years later, Vijecnia is returning to its former glory after years of arduous work on restoring the Vijenica. The official opening of the restored Vijecnica will take place on 9 May.
At a press conference that took place yesterday inside the Vijecnica, member of the B&H Presidency ZeljkoKomsic noted that the Vijenica would officially open on 9 May, which is both the Day of Europe and the Victory Day over Fascism.
Member of B&H Presidency Komsic highlighted that the opening of the Vijecnica on this day is a memorable occasion, since the Vijecnica is a rare symbol in Europe of the meeting of civilizations. The Vijecnica also is a prominent reminder that Sarajevo has always managed to triumph over fascism and all other evils that have plagued Sarajevo.
Over the past few months, the Vijecnica in Sarajevo has continuously attracted attraction by local and international media, because it is a building that carries with it heavy symbols for the people of Sarajevo and B&H. The shelling of Vijecnica and the destruction of the majority of its books represented the attempted destruction of a multicultural Sarajevo, of the suffering that citizens endured while laying witness to the burning and shelling for nearly four years. Simultaneously, the long-awaited restoration of Vijecnica also symbolizes the slow but gradual revival of what was once thought to have been lost, and that all that Vijecnica symbolizes is not something that is possible to be irreparably lost.
The restoration works of the Vijecnica was carried out in four phases, and the final phase, which involves finishing minor details now and the previous works in this phase included deciding on the color scheme. The goal of architects and everyone else involved in the project was to achieve as close a replica as possible of the original Vijecnica as it looked like in the 19th century. What is interesting to note is that various old documents, photographs and postcards were used in order to try to match the color scheme of the Vijecnica as it had looked before.
At the grand opening of the Vijecnica, there will be music and entertainment spectacle, a performance by the Sarajevo Philharmonic, and the presence of numerous dignitaries and other figures prominent in the public sphere.