Designed by Živorad Janković and Halid Muhasilović, Skenderija is a multi-functional cultural and sports center completed in 1969. It was opened on 29 November 1969 by hosting a premiere of the film Battle of Neretva. This building was the first of its kind in the former Yugoslavia and in many ways acted as a prototype for many similar complexes that were later built throughout the country.
As such, Skenderija played a crucial role in the development of not only the local architecture, but also of Yugoslavian modernist architecture as a whole. It was the first hybrid building in the former Yugoslavia that fused together many different functions (sports, performance, entertainment, shopping, food, service, etc.) within a singular multi-store complex that employed a modernist aesthetics prevalent of the time.
The name Skenderija, which means “Skender’s place”, comes from the famous Bosnian bey Sandžak-beg Skender-paša, who build the first trading-center with 11 shops and the first Muslim monastery of Bosnia from 1499. Soon the Skenderija was a well known and widely used center for several cultural events of the former Yugoslavia.
When Sarajevo discovered it was host to the Winter Olympics in 1984, the center was greatly expanded to become an ice sports center. Ice hockey matches and figure skating competitions were the main events held at Skenderija during the games and the location thrived as the city’s main center for sports and culture. There was a period after the war when Skenderija wasn’t used and it rapidly fell into a state of disrepair. It is in use again today and is still seen as an integral part of the city but there are sections of it that are still rather rundown.