Sebilj and "the Pigeon Square"

Sebilj (eng. sebil) is Arabian word which means „road".  It is name for public fountain, placed on a busy place where thirsty passangers come and drink some fresh water. Sebils were built at crossroads and outside mosques throughout the Ottoman Empire to provide drinking water for travelers and enable ritual purification before prayer. The construction of many sebils was considered the hallmark of a beneficent ruler.

In 16th century Istanbul, sebils were a symbol of public possession. The attempt to add spigots was opposed because this was perceived as limiting public access to the blessings of nature. Endowing money for the construction of sebils was considered an act of piety. Initially, they functioned as kiosks where water was distributed to passersby. Often they were decorated in the Ottoman Rococo style and inscripted with Ottoman Turkish verses that formed a chronogram using the Abjad numbers to date the construction. Until the spread of inhouse plumbing by the end of the 20th century, they were essential for the daily life of the inhabitants of Istanbul.

Sebilj in Sarajevo was built by Bosnian vizier Mehmed-pasha Kukavica in 1753 and is the most popular meeting point. If you are meeting someone in the Old Town in Sarajevo, most probably he/she will suggest to meet at Sebilj.  While you are waiting you can feed pigeons which are always just a few feet away. Food can be bought in a local store. The interesting thing when you get food is that pigeons will come to you immediately and wait to be fed, they are nice and will even eat from your hand.

There is a replica of the Sarajevo sebilj in Belgrade, Serbia, which was donated to the city of Sarajevo in 1989. Replica Sarajevo sebilj is also in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States, which was a tribute to the Bosnian community in St. Louis for his 250th birthday. Also replica Sarajevo sebilj there and in Novi Pazar. It was a gift from the BiH capital of Sarajevo.

So, probably two must-do things in Sarajevo are to drink water on Bascarsija and feed pigeons. As for the water, famous song says: "Whoever drinks the water from Baščaršija, he will never get out of Sarajevo" , so we are expecting you again!