Ottoman decrees preserved in Bosnian museum
SARAJEVO – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotosFive Ottoman edicts have found a home in Sarajevo’s Old Orthodox Church Museum, which is normally the home of some of the world’s most valuable Christian icons.
The edicts date from the time when the rule of Ottoman sultans extended across southeastern Europe, from the mid-15th to the late 19th centuries.
Among those housed in the museum is a 1695 decree from Sultan Mustafa that bestowed property on Orthodox monks and Sultan Mahmut I’s order banning the sale of alcohol.
Other edicts, written in Arabic, date to the 17th and 18th centuries. “These are historical testimonies about the relationship between the Sultan’s Palace and the orthodox church,” said Vladislav Topalovic, a deacon who oversees the church-turned-museum in the Bosnian capital.
The museum, which was originally dedicated to Archangels Michael and Gabriel and was one of Sarajevo’s oldest houses of worship, contains some of the world’s most valuable orthodox Christian icons with more than 700 items of historical value on display, including a collection of silver and gold church objects, robes and a large collection of icons, many from Crete from the 1600s, but also locally painted ones.
The structure has been burned many times throughout its history, only to be rebuilt according to its original appearance. The last reconstruction was in 1726.
Located in the heart of the Bosnian capital, the museum was established in 1889 when a church treasury was transformed into a place to display religious and cultural artifacts after the National Museum was opened in Sarajevo.
In addition, the museum is home to treasures such as an El Greco masterpiece, currently on loan to the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.
A collection of Italo-Cretan icons, or religious paintings, dating back to the 15th century and liturgical robes from the same period are also on display at the museum.
According to Topalovic, the museum’s oldest manuscript is a nomokanon, which details ecclesiastic law, dating from 1371. “This document is not only interesting to theologians but to historians and lawyers as well,” he said.
The Old Orthodox Church was classified as a national monument in 2006.