Sarajevo Stories: Apothecaries

2017-09-13 10.04.03
By the end of 15th century and beggining of the 1th century pharmacies started to appear in Sarajevo. The Jews who fled from Spain have been Sarajevo’s first druggiest called „attari“. Their shops were selling herbs, medicines and different types of plants. They were called attari from the Turkish word „atar“ ( meaning: a man who sells medicaments).
The Jews (Sefardi) that expelled from Spain were granted permission (with Alhambra Decree) to settle down over the entire Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Bayazid II. The Spanish Jews (Sefardi) have been found their new homes in Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia. The famous Sultan Bayazid II words are: „That Spanish King is mad. He is going to impoverish his own land to enrich mine.“ Wheverer Sephardic Jews went they brought knowledge and flourishing of medicine, science and trade. 450 years ago Sijavush Pasha an Ottoman official was the one that welcome expelled Sephardic Jews with their modest budles and keys to the houses they would never return to. The Ottomans in Sarajevo built a special place (for expelled Jews) in the old part of Sarajevo called Velika Avlija. At that time this building was the only Jewish dwelling in Europe. The door of this building was always open to immigrants. Soon people called this building „The Little Jerusalem“.
Upon coming to Sarajevo, Jewish doctors and medicine staff got positions in the Turkish Army. Their jobs were to folow and treat soldiers with their medicaments and herbs. When a military operation is over, they used to return to Sarajevo and start to sell their goods in shops and heal an ordinary people. A guild for Jewish druggist were opened in Sarajevo by the 17th century. The famous Papo family was among those famous doctors and apothekaries. There are a plenty of documented stories about Jewish doctors Avram, Tia Merkado, Roza Papo and others. The first shop was opened by Santo Papo and it was located at Sarači 6. This was also one of the last shop of attari in the Sarajevo.
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Those doctors have written many medical books and guides. The first books were Sefardska Ljekaruša in Ladino (1820), Sefardska Ljekaruša (1836 and 1840) and Attarski Manual (1850). Those first pharmacy shops were full of various boxes with medical herbs and intoxicating smells. Their herbs were used to treat different mental and physical conditions/illnesses. They wrote labels in Turkish, Hebrew and Bosnian language. Besides herbs, they used to sell a little vials of different drops, balms, ointments, pills, wax, essential oils and dyes. 1951 The Museum of The City of Sarajevo bought the entire shop’s inventory (herbs and medicines from domestic and foreign origins). The Museum also acquired a wooden mortar and Mr. Papo’s ledger from Svjetlost’s antique bookshop. Inside of the Jewish Museum in Sarajevo, there is an exhibit of Papo’s shop on display.
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The Jewish Museum in Sarajevo:
Open weekdays from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Sunday from 10.00 a.m to 3.00 p.m.
Saturday is closed.
The cots of admission is 3 KM (Kovertibilna Marka) or app. 1,5 €.

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