In the courtyard of the Bey’s Mosque and in its immediate surroundings many supporting buildings were built.
In the middle of the mosque courtyard, in the shade of the old chestnut trees standing gracefully is a charming marble fountain whose roof rests on eight wooden posts linked by arches. Aside from being very decorative, the shadirwan also has its functional purpose: its water can be used for Muslim ablutions (ritual washing of the face, arms and feet before entering the mosque for prayer).
The original shadirwan was built in 1530 from stone found in Bosnia. At that time this shadirwan was supplied with water from the Crnilo Spring located in Donje Biosko, distanced seven kilometres. The water from this spring was distributed through Sarajevo using a system of pipes made of baked clay. This old shadirwan was totally reconstructed after the original model in 1772.
Due to the cold Sarajevo winters and frequent freezing the reconstructed shadirwan was badly damaged, so that instead of the old one a new one was built in 1893 using the marble from the island of Brač in Dalmatia. The three damaged troughs of the old shadirwan can be seen next to the mosque courtyard entrance on the west side. Architecturally, the present-day shadirwan is identical to the one in front of the Ulu Mosque in Bursa. During the last reconstruction, the shadirwan was connected to the modern water system.
During the aggression on this city the wooden roof was damaged so badly that it could not be restored. For this reason, in 1997 a new roof was built, identical to the old one. Immediately below the wooden roof a calligraphically written quote form the Qur’an was added, whose translation is as follows:
“And from water We have created all living things”
This same quote is written on each of the eight sides that support the roof frame, but using a different style of Arabic script each time.
During 2002 the shadirwan was restored in its entirety. It was taken apart and the water system installations were replaced since most of the pipes were damaged during the savage shelling of this mosque. Everything was done to bring the shadirwan to its earlier condition and functionality, so that today we can once again use it and see it in all of its splendour and beauty.
Situated in the west part of the mosque courtyard is the abdesthana (place for ablutions) with separate parts for men and women. This roofed over space that opens up towards the courtyard has been in use since 1530. The water flowed from a number of taps placed on the west part of the courtyard wall and it came from large copper kettles built into the oven in the wall corner. During winter the water was heated by burning wood. The warm water in this abdesthana made an impression on every traveller who visited Sarajevo. Even Evliya Chelebi emphasises this fact as he offers his praise in his accounts of his travels.
The Public Toilet
On the west side of the mosque, outside the courtyard walls, a public toilet was built in 1529. With some periodical adaptations this toilet has been continually used to this day. Back in 1529 it was probably a rare if not the only building designed for that purpose in all of Europe. The public toilet was connected to Ghazi Husrev-bey’s water system, and the water was brought by means of a wooden aqueduct, and then it was channelled through ceramic cone shaped pipes. The water system supplied the north-eastern part of Sarajevo and the institutions of Ghazi Husrev-bey’s Waqf that were built up to that point, part of the old Sarajevo market, and went as far as Tašli Han and the Ferhadija Mosque. On this water supply route there were several reservoirs covered with gravel for the sake of water purification, and branching out from these reservoirs were water supply extensions for bringing water to the public fountains scattered throughout Sarajevo. At that time the drainage for the sewage-system was built using crushed stone and was covered with flagstones and directed into the Miljacka River. This drainage for the sewage-system is perfectly functioning even today.
In 1859, along with the abdesthana, a small building was built and was given the name muwaqqithana (a place for the one who sets the clock). Inside this room the instruments used to measure the height of the Sun are kept. At one time this instrument was a simple plank or an astrolabe in the shape of a quadrant, set for the Sarajevo meridian. Later, this instrument was replaced with the modern sextant that allowed for a completely accurate measurement of the height of the Sun.
The accurate measuring of the height of the Sun was necessary for determining the exact time of the sunset or the beginning of akšam-maghrib (a prayer which begins after the astronomical sunset). By using the time akšam begins, the other prayer times could be determined. This determining of the right time for prayer was the duty of a muwaqqit who calculated certain dates by converting the results he obtained through the measurements of the height of the Sun. Since at that time very few people had clocks or watches (the beginning of production of mechanical clocks began only in the first half of the 16th century), next to the Bey’s Mosque a clock tower was built so that all those in the vicinity of the mosque would know the time.
The Clock Tower
On the west side of the mosque, outside the courtyard walls, the Waqf building was put up in 1529. Today, four streets surround this building. Aside from the premises for the employees of the Waqf Administration, this building housed the imare – a soup kitchen for the students and the poor, as well as the musafir-hana – an overnight stay for the travellers-unexpected guests who had the right to stay for up to three days free of charge. At the end of the 16th century, within the walls of this building, a clock tower was erected (a document from 1697 indicates that it was renovated that same year because of the damage it had suffered in a fire).
The clock on this clock tower shows the lunar time. This means that the day ends at the moment of the astronomical sunset and that, according to this calendar, a new day begins. The clock tower has four clock faces, each facing one side of the world. The present-day clock mechanism was brought in from London in 1875. At the time of its installation the upper part of the clock tower was added and adapted for the installation and good visibility of the clock faces. Considering that the length of the day constantly changes throughout the year, including the sunset, this clock mechanism is in need of constant adjusting. The clock adjusting is the duty of a muwaqqit who, based on the exact determination of the sunset, sets the right time. When the sun sets, this clock tower is supposed to show 12:00 o’clock.
In front of the shadirwan and the mosque there is a stone capital that at one time was an integral part of the second pillar of the mosque portico, onthe right side of the entrance. Since it was damaged, it was replaced with a new one during the renovation of the mosque in 1775. Since that time, the new capital has been located in the courtyard of the mosque and is sometimes used as an ezantash – a stone from which the muezzin offers the adhan (a call to prayer) on special occasions. This stone was used among the people as an aršin (a Turkish standard measure equaling 72 cm), since the sides of the surface of the stone are approximately 72cm in length.
In the east part of the mosque courtyard a building was constructed in 1530. This building had pantries on the ground floor, and on the first floor was the maktab or a room for teaching children in the filed of religious education. The building had gone through several renovations and today it has been adapted for the needs of the employees of Ghazi Husrev-bey waqf and for religious studies for the needs of the adult students.
Opposite the mosque, or on the north side of the mosque, behind the street wall, Ghazi Husrev-bey’s Madrasa (an advanced school) stands, built and founded in 1537. Ghazi Husrev-bey built this madrasa in remembrance of his mother princes Seljukia and gave it the name “Seljukia”, but the people gave it the name Kurshumli (kuršum – Turkish word for lead) because of its roof being covered with lead.
As an architectural monument this madrasa belongs to the most beautiful monuments of the old Sarajevo, just as magnificent as the mosque.
The front of the Kurshumli Madrasa, with its entrance and doorjambs, is higher than the building of the madrasa, which, due to its exceptional beauty, leaves a strong impression on any visitor. Above the door, lined up in symmetrical rows, are the stalactites that totally take up the vaulted recess within the massive doorjambs that face upwards. On both sides of the doorjambs, hewed out of solid rock, are two polygon recesses each of them surpassed by a system of stalactite that gradually becomes narrower. Above the entrance door of the madrasa is a stone tablet 180 X 60 cm in size, which has an engraved inscription written in verse and in Arabic language. The inscription is situated inside six elliptical spaces edged with flowers and arabesques, and its translation is as follows:
“This edifice buildeth for those who seeketh knowledge,
And for the love of God who answers our prayers,
Ghazi Husrev, commander of the champions of faith,
(He is) the source of benefaction, the pride of the righteous.
Fejzur-rab toldeth it a chronogram:
Meeting place of the good, home of the perfect.”
By assigning numerical value to the Arabic letters used in the last distich we get the year the madrasa was built in – 1537 AD.
When one enters its atrium, many interesting details attract the attention of the visitor; the gracious symmetrical domes and the pointed chimneys, and a colonnade of pillars of exceptional beauty. Around the atrium are the rooms inside which softas (students) of the madrasa resided, and opposite the main entrance is a dershana (the great lecture hall). In the middle of the atrium is a small water fountain thatharmoniously fits into the peaceful surroundings with which it creates an impressive architectural whole.
At one time Ghazi Husrev-bey’s Madrasa was an educational institution that was in a class by itself in the Balkans and was second to none from here to Istanbul. It is for this reason that Kurshumli Madrasa can be rightly considered the forerunner of today’s University of Sarajevo, and especially the Faculty of Islamic Studies and the Faculty of Law.