Gazi Husrev-beg (1480–1541) was a Bosniak beg in the Ottoman Empire during the first half of the 16th century. He was an effective military strategist, and the greatest donor and builder of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He was born in Serres, Greece, to a Bosniak father and a Turkish mother, who was the daughter of the Sultan. Thus, Gazi Husrev-Beg was Sultan Beyazid II's grandson. A brilliant strategist and politician, in 1521 he became the governor of the Ottoman province of Bosnia.
Immediately from Bosnia he launched a number of military campaigns against the empire's enemies in the region, who at that time were basically Venice, Hungary, and the remnants of the Bosnian kingdom. In less than 3 years, Gazi Husrev-Beg conquered the fortresses of Knin, Skradin, and Ostrovica. With such results, he was appointed the governor of the Ottoman province of Bosnia on September 15, 1521, becoming one of Sultan Suleiman I's most trusted men.
What followed was a relentless campaign of conquering. With Gazi Husrev-Beg at the helm, the Ottoman army quickly made major gains in the region. The last Bosnian capital of Jajce is conquered in 1525, as is the important city of Banja Luka in the Krajina region. The fortified towns of Greben, Sokol, Jezero, Vinac, Vrbaški Grad, Livaè, Kamatin, Boèac, Udbina, Vrana, Modruè, and Požega all fall at the hands of Gazi-Husrev Beg.
Just as important as his military contributions, Gazi Husrev-Beg made a tremendous domestic impact on Bosnia. If Isa-Beg Isakoviæ founded Sarajevo, it was Gazi Husrev-Beg who made it what it is today. He was responsible for the construction of the famous Gazi Husrev-beg's Mosque, the Tsar's Mosque, and numerous other mosques throughout the city. He also constructed the city's first library, madrassa, school of Sufi philosophy, and clock tower (Sahat Kula), along with numerous other important cultural structures.
Gazi Husrev-Beg kept fighting battles until his death in 1541 during an uprising of nobility in Montenegro.He died in a small Montenegrian village Mokro in Drobnjak – Montenegro. Legend says that he was a big man, so his warriors could not take him back, but to take apart his intestinals, and burried them on small hill (still called “The hodžas hill” – “Hodžina glavica”).That part of Montenegro, and Montenigrian tribe that lives there has a name “Drobnjak” (drob = intestinals). His body was taken back to Sarajevo, where it remains to this day in a tomb in the courtyard of his mosque. Above it is written, “May the mercy and generosity of god fall upon him every day”.
Today it is difficult to imagine Sarajevo, or even Bosnia, as we know it without the contributions of Gazi Husrev-Beg. He is remembered chiefly as the greatest donor and builder of Sarajevo, and as a Bosniak national hero. Thousands visit his tomb and give a prayer every year.
The tomb of Gazi Husrev-Beg, Sarajevo.