The Gazi Husrev Bey’s Madrasah was founded on January 8, 1537, and its founder is the wise and open-minded Gazi Husrev Bey, son of the Bosnian nobleman Ferhat Bey. The mother of Gazi Husrev Bey, Seldžuka, was the daughter of the Sultan Bayezid II. The madrasah was first called Seldžuklija, and later it became known among people as Kuršumlija.
Naturally talented, Gazi Husrev Bey educated himself in elite schools and made friends with princes. The acquired knowledge, proven courage, and noble heart enabled him to achieve a successful career as a bey, to acquire great fame as a ghazi, and to leave an indelible mark in the history as a waqf: he ruled Albania, Serbia, and Bosnia, he was a famous hero in Montenegro, Hungary and Croatia, as a waqf he built mosques and tekkes, bridges and inns, hammams, fountains, schools and libraries, and he left all his property in Bosnia, Slavonia, Dalmatia and Greece to the people. Thus, Gazi Husrev Bey greatly encouraged the development of religious, economic, and cultural life of this city, this country and these people.
The building of the Gazi Husrev Bey’s Madrasah was designed as a polyvalent and representative facility in which the central spot was given to space for classes, and the residential character was given to rooms on the sides. By a decision of the founder of the madrasah himself, the madrasah is situated in the heart of the city and its construction was entrusted to the leading architect of the Ottoman Empire at the time, the Persian Adjem Esir Ali.
The builders from Dubrovnik and domestic workers built the madrasah according to Ali’s plans. The madrasah was built of Bosnian stone and lead. The compact, harmonious and monumental building was completed in 1537, and it became and remained one of the symbols of Sarajevo. All the later upgrades and repairs followed the same design. With the construction of this madrasah, Gazi Husrev Bey completed the complex of waqfs of the future religious, educational, and cultural center of Bosnia.
According to the character it had (the subjects of study, the reputation of the founder, the operations that its graduates could have performed, the amount of wage etc.) it can be said that this madrasah was a high or higher educational institution in the Ottoman Empire era. Professors of the Gazi Husrev Bey’s madrasah are selected on the basis of strict criteria prescribed by Gazi Husrev Bey himself. The criteria included expertise, pedagogical experience, and human values. Many people competed for the attractive teaching job and only the best got it. Among them were Arabs, Turks, Albanians, and Bosniaks.
Students in the Gazi Husrev Bey’s Madrasah had modern classes, prominent professors, comfortable accommodation, and healthy nutrition. By living up to high standards and studying hard, they acquired respectable titles and positions. They were judges, generals, imams, muftis, reis ul-ulemas, professors, scientists, academicians, mayors, diplomats, ministers, and officials.
Gazi Husrev Bey’s Madrasah has two buildings, a male and female madrasah with all necessary classrooms and offices, as well as the residential area for male and female students.