History Class: Legend about Bentbasa Settlement in Sarajevo

Bentbasa (bent – embankment or dam; in the pronunciation often Bembasa) is part of Sarajevo located in the Old Town, along the flow of Miljacka River.

At the time of foundation of the city, there were placed Isa Bey’s mills and taverns. Toponym Bentbasa originates from 1462, and the settlement was established on the foundations of the medieval village Brodac where Isa Bey chose to construct his endowments, and gave houses in the village Hrancici, today’s Hrasnica, to local residents in return.

Long time ago, here was the bridge made of goat bellows (skin) which was named Kozija Cuprija (Goat’s Bridge), made by Omer Pasha Latas. Later, in 1793, wooden bridge was built, which served for transport of wooden piles to the city.

Imperial mills on Miljacka River were grinding the grain until 1875, for 4 full centuries. The famous miller Joseph Lihtenger, Austrian on temporary work in Sarajevo, is still remembered in Sarajevo.

Tomrukcije (wood traders) used to take the wooden piles out of the water at Bentbasa and later sold them at the market. With the arrival of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in this part was built bathing area Da Rive back in 1884.

With the construction of Kozija Cuprija, the tunnel was dug and today’s Narodna banja was constructed, which was opened on the 20th of July 1902.

Women from Sarajevo used to wash their clothes and carpets here and kerep (scaffolding made of several connected boats) was operating.

In Hadji Saban’s tavern, the first Sarajevo’s tavern, with dancing Armenian girls and dibek (type of grinded coffee), people used to stay until dawn.

On the upper part of Miljacka were many mills, and citizens of Sarajevo were forced to build dams in order to have a permanent water pressure. These dams were used as bath places. However, Miljacka was full of whirlpools, and the Austro-Hungarian authorities in 1902 decided to regulate the riverbed and make one public bath place, safer for citizens. Thus was created the first pool at Bentbasa, which worked on the system of water flow.

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