Bosnian Capital's Torched Library Reopening on Europe Day

After much uncertainty over which institution will obtain use of the restored Vijecnica, or City Hall, the Mayor of Sarajevo, Ivo Komsic, on April 24, announced that the iconic building will be used by the city authorities, the Bosnian National Library and a museum.

Komsic said that after the reconstruction and restoration of Vijecnica were complete, following more than two decades of work, it will reopen on May 9, the Day of Europe.

An exhibition of items saved from the 1992 fire, when the building was destroyed by Bosnian Serb shelling, will form the part of the opening ceremony alongside a concert by the Sarajevo philharmonic orchestra.

Two million books, articles and magazines were lost for ever in the fire caused by rockets fired by Bosnian Serb forces besieging the city at the end of August 1992.

The Vijecnica was built when Bosnia was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and opened in April 1896. It served both as a city hall and as a library.

The distinctive building, with its playful neo-Ottoman motifs, was originally given to the City Council, which used it until 1949, when it was turned into a library.

Mayor Komsic said that the maintenance of the building would cost around 300,000 euro a year.

Restoration of Vijecnica's outer facade finished in 2012, when the city regained one of its most distinctive landmarks.

On June 28, a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic is due to take place in Vijecnica as one of the events marking the centenary of the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophie.

The Archduke's assassination by a Bosnian Serb, Gavrilo Pincip, led to the outbreak of war between the...

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