The House of Alija Đerzelez, a Hero of Oral Tradition from the 17th century

The House of Alija Đerzelez, which was built during the 17th century, is one of the most visited museums in Sarajevo. It was restored in 1999, and in 2016, it was conceded to the Administration of the City of Istanbul. It is on the list of national monuments of B&H.


Alija’s death is still spoken about today, but no one can say with certainty how this Bosnian hero died. His death has been mentioned in a number of ways in many songs. Some would say that he was killed by Vuk Jajčanin, that he found him while he was praying, and snuck up on him and cut him with a sword, because Alija, despite realizing that he would die, did not want to stop praying, while in another song Alija was killed by some haiduk. At Mrkonjić Municipality, there is a turbeh, which was believed to be Alija Đerzelez’s burial place. Older people would say that the bludgeon of Alija Đerzelez was kept in Sarajevo, at the „Seven Brothers” tekke, but at some point, when Sarajevo was burning in a fire, the bludgeon was destroyed.


Alija Đerzelez was talked about a lot in old Sarajevo. The Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić wrote about him, and he was mentioned in a lot of songs as the protector of the oppressed, justice and religion. There are still legends about him today. The architectural complex of the “House of Alija Đerzelez” is of special cultural and historical value to the City of Sarajevo, located in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Vrbanjuša, on the corner of Sagrdžije and Alija Đerzelez streets, on the north slope of the city.


The house was erected in the 17th century and it was built with a specific purpose, as a residential building for a rich craftsman family. To this day, the correct data has not been found about the founder and person who ordered for it to be built, but it is known that in the last 200 years the owners were from the Čejvan family, who owned the building up until a few years ago. It was built as a single-storey house, with all the elements characteristic of Ottoman residential architecture. It was constructed out of traditional materials – stone adobe, wood and wrought iron. It was restored in 1999 and preserved from collapsing in this way. The interiors and furnishings were restored, and painter conservator Nihad Bahtijarević did the reconstruction and restoration of the wall (painted) decorations, as well as the painted decorations on the musandere (wall cabinets made of wood, decorated with woodcarving along an entire wall of a room).


In April 2016, the House of Alija Đerzelez, with all its accompanying spaces, was conceded to the Administration of the City of Istanbul for five years free of charge. The Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments of B&H declared this house a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.