On the left: The iconic clock tower near the Gazi Husrev-beg mosque and, next to it, the mosque’s minaret, both located in the old town of Sarajevo. I photographed the two towers in autumn 1997 on black and white film, which I then had developed by a more than rudimentary lab somewhere in Eastern Sarajevo. The entire film was practically ruined by the development process but I had no plans to leave Sarajevo at the time, and I was impatient to see the images. This was the only film I shot in 1997.
The picture on the right was taken digitally in 2018, and intentionally in black and white. The clock tower is still there but I did not find the same perspective anymore. The old town has seen serious renovation since 2000, which is understandable since it is what nearly all the tourists come to see. At the same time, it is also the most “Ottoman” inspired part of the city, with coffeehouses and burek restaurants jostling for space with the many shops selling gold jewellery and tourism trinkets. The Gazi Husrev-beg mosque sits smack in the centre of the old town and is not only a place of worship but also an architectural symbol for Ottoman Sarajevo.
Gazi Husrev-beg, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most well-known ‘vakifs’ (caretaker of a religious endowment in Islam) during the Ottoman period not only built the mosque named after him, but also the clock tower. The clock was made by Gillett & Johnston in London in 1873. During Ramadan, it plays an important role because it announces to the believers the time of breaking the fast (iftar). In 2006, the Sarajevo Clock Tower was declared a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.