The Ottoman period in Bosnia and Herzegovina lasted for over 400 years (1463 – 1878), which is the reason why there are so many turbeh monuments scattered all around Bosnia and Herzegovina. The turbehs inspire people with awe and fear, curiosity and respect to this day.
The Seven Brothers is a story dating back to 1815, which is still alive and passed on from one generation to the next.
Legend says that the place of the turbeh was initially a regular Ottoman cemetery in a part of Sarajevo known as Bistrik. However, seven innocent people were allegedly condemned to death and buried on that cemetery.
This was the starting point for the story. A concrete and wood wall was built around the cemetery following the demands of the people who lived there and who, allegedly, began to see a sort of light coming out of the earth every night.
After the phenomenon was witnessed by the then-governor Suleiman-pasha Skopljak in 1815, he ordered a house with seven windows to be built over that spot. This house is now better known as the turbeh monument to the Seven Brothers.
The monument was built in the Osmanli style and a window and lantern still hang above every grave.
Many visitors come to this monument in Sarajevo from the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as from the neighbouring countries. Legend has it that anyone who makes a wish by the monument will soon see it granted.
Most families living in Sarajevo, regardless of their religious conviction, pay a visit to the Seven Brothers once a year to wish for health and good fortune for all their family members. It is customary to say some sort of a prayer and throw small coins in the house through the seven windows.
After the first part of the ritual is performed, it is important not to take the same way back home. One should also carefully listen to the first sentence or a word a random passer-by might utter. The words spoken by this first passer-by are then to be applied to the thing the person has wished for, i.e. to interpret them in a personal way.
During the course of a year, a substantial amount of money that has been thrown in by the visitors is collected. The Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina has decided to donate the majority of this money to soup kitchens for the poor.
Who was buried in the Seven Brothers Turbeh?
According to the legend, the cemetery of the Seven Brothers contains the remnants of two dervishes (members of religious orders which trace their origins from various Muslim saints and teachers) suspected and unjustly executed after a large sum of money had disappeared from the Sarajevo treasury in 1494. Shortly after their execution, a postman came bringing the news that the real thieves who had robbed the Sarajevo treasury had been captured in the town of Čajniče.
The bodies of four army captains are also buried in the tomb of the Seven Brothers. Their execution was ordered by Mustafa-pasha Dalbatan who accused them of not informing the Ottomans when the army led by the Prince Eugene of Savoy approached Sarajevo in 1697.
The seventh person buried in the Seven Brothers was a Muslim priest whose name and fate remain unknown. The only thing known about him is that he arrived in Sarajevo in 1463 together with Sultan Fatih, the Conqueror (Mehmet II).
Ever since the light was first seen coming out of the cemetery, the people of Sarajevo have shown respect to the site and brought small gifts, which have paid for the maintenance of the monument for centuries.
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