Old Jewish Cemetery, Sarajevo

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Old Jewish cemetery Kovačići
Staro jevrejsko groblje Kovačići
Sarajevo Jevrejsko groblje 6.jpg
Establishedcca 1550
CountryBosnia and Herzegovina
Coordinates43°51′00″N 18°24′28″E / 43.8499°N 18.4079°E / 43.8499; 18.4079Coordinates: 43°51′00″N 18°24′28″E / 43.8499°N 18.4079°E / 43.8499; 18.4079
Owned byCity
Size31,160 square metres (7.70 acres)
No. of graves>3850

The OId Jewish Cemetery is almost 500 years old cemetery in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Site is located on the slopes of Trebević mountain, in the Kovačići-Debelo Brdo area, in the south-western part of the city. It is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in South-East Europe. It was in use from the beginning of the 16th or 17th century[1] until 1966.[2]


Established by Sephardic Jews during the Ottoman period, it also became the burial ground for Ashkenazi Jews after they arrived in Sarajevo with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th century. It contains more than 3850 tombstones and covers an area of 31160 square meters. It has four monuments dedicated to the victims of fascism: a Sephardi one designed by Jahiel Finci and erected in 1952, two Ashkenazi ones, and one dedicated to the victims of Ustasha militants.[3]

During war of the 1990s[edit]

The Jewish Cemetery was on the front line during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was used as an artillery position by Bosnian Serbs. It was thus severely damaged by bullets and fire caused by explosions. It was also heavily mined but was completely cleared in 1996.[4]

Notable burials and memorials[edit]

Notable people buried in the cemetery include Rabbi Samuel Baruh (first rabbi of Sarajevo from 1630 to 1650; his grave is believed to be the oldest in the cemetery),[5] Rabbi Isak Pardo (rabbi from 1781 to 1810), Rabbi Avraham Abinun (Grand Rabbi from 1856 to 1858), Moshe ben Rafael Attias (1845 – 1916), Laura Levi Papo LaBohoreta (writer of the early 20th century),[6] and Isak Samokovlija. There are also four memorials erected to the victims of Fascist terror, along with several cenotaphs, an empty memorial tombs, with the names of people who died elsewhere and whose grave locations are unknown.


Separate vault or "grave" for damaged books known as a Genizah, is located in the southeastern part of the cemetery, with the first burial taking place on 3 July 1916. Assumption is that some 14 chests of holy books were buried in the second burial ceremony, so currently exhumation of Geniza is under way to determine its content.

National and World Heritage designation[edit]

Cemetery is designated national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina as "Sepulchral ensemble – Jewish cemetery in Sarajevo". In preparation for nomination for the inclusion on World Heritage site list, Bosnian delegates submitted documentation for the tentative list at UNESCO on April 3, 2018, under the "Cultural" category and criteria "(ii)", "(iii)", "(iv)", "(vi)".[2][7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antisemitism in Eastern Europe: History and Present in Comparison - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  2. ^ a b Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Jewish Cemetery in Sarajevo - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  3. ^ "JEWISH CEMETERY Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina" (PDF). Coe.int. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  4. ^ "U.S. Commission Urges Sarajevo Cemetery Restoration". Isjm.org. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  5. ^ Bosnia: A Short History - Noel Malcolm - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  6. ^ "Jewish Women in Yugoslavia". Jwa.org. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  7. ^ Šimić, Angelina (5 February 2018). "Oslobođenje - Očekuje se upis Jevrejskog groblja u UNESCO". Oslobođenje d.o.o. (in Bosnian). Retrieved 31 May 2018.