House of Spite – a story about Bosnian stubbornness, defiance, and persistence

Inat kuća FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

Numerous buildings and places in Sarajevo hide an interesting story of its origin, and one of the most interesting is Inat kuća (House of Spite), which is located next to the Šeher-Ćehaja Bridge, near to Bentbaša.

This building, which represents a valuable cultural and historical facility, is under the protection of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and it is a symbol of Bosnian stubbornness, insubordination and persistence, and is therefore called “House of Spite”. It used to be located on the right side of Miljacka, in the place of City Hall, so that later on, part by part, it was transferred to the other side of the river.

Construction of the City Hall

This house was built in the middle of the 17th century, and it reached the center of attention in the period when construction of the City Hall began (1892-1894) and the establishment of a tram station in its immediate vicinity.

– When the Austro-Hungarian authorities decided to build the City Hall, there was a need to remove some of the buildings at that location. Among these buildings, there were two hans and this house. The house was not at first disturbance for construction of the City Hall, but it later became because of  development of the tram traffic. In the regulatory plan back then, it was planned to enforce Miljacka’s regulation, to make the City Hall, to make Apel quay (today’s Obala Kulina Bana) the main street and establish tramway traffic on this route. Many historians write that the house was disturbing the construction of the City Hall, but this is not true, it only disturbed the traffic and tram line. The City Hall was officially handed over to use in 1896, and some photographs show that the House of Spite was then right next to it – says Mufid Garibija, a famous Sarajevo architect and an excellent connoisseur of the history of the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Austro-Hungarian authorities asked to buy this house, as well as other facilities that stood in the way of their plans. However, when they turned to the owner of this house, the old Benderija, he turned it down sharply. They even offered him much more money than it was the true value of the house, but he did not want to sell the house. The only thing that was finally agreed with the owner was to transfer the house, brick by brick, to the other side of the riverbank, and besides that, the bag of golden coins.

– Benderija was a stubborn man, but not in terms of nonsense, but stubborn in terms of defiance. He knew well what kind of site he owned, he knew what he was losing, and asked to be compensated with money, that is, a bag of golden coins and his house to be transferred to the other side. He got a house and money. He knew that on a new location he would get a more beautiful look at Sheher-Ćehaja’s Bridge, the City Hall and Miljacka in which he was in love – Garibija says.

Transfer of the House

He adds that parts of the house were slowly shifted from one side to the other so that it remained almost the same.

– Some details could not be transferred, there are plenty could. Benderija watched its transfer carefully. He would often stand in the middle of the bridge, smoke his pipe, lean against the fence and watch the works, and the transfer of this house was a real attraction for Sarajevans, says Garibija, adding that the house was built of wood and brick clay sun-dried and mixed with wheat stubble.

The roof is covered with a type of tile that, at the time of the Ottomans, covered a large number of houses and shops in Baščaršija.

The house has changed many owners from Benderija to this date, and since 1997 it houses a reputable national restaurant. Originally, it had ground floor and first floor, and later it was upgraded. Inside, the Bosnian authentic look is retained. The whole ambience is reminiscent of Bosnian houses built during the Ottoman era. Wood, seeds, small tables and chairs prevail. In the corners are seharas (lewlery boxes), on the shelves old Bosnian dishes like ibrik (ewer). Lighting is decorated old fashioned way, and the verses of Sevdalinka, traditional Bosnian songs, enhance the overall impression.

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