The University of Sarajevo (Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian: Univerzitet u Sarajevu / Универзитет у Сарајеву) is the largest and oldest university in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is the oldest institution of tertiary education in the ex-Yugoslav states. It was originally established in 1531 as an Ottoman Islamic law college; the university in its modern, secular incarnation being established and effectively added to that in 1949. Today, with 20 faculties, three academies and three faculties of theology and with 30,866 enrolled students as of school year 2014/15, it ranks among the largest universities in the Balkans in terms of enrollment. Since opening its doors in 1949, 122,000 students received bachelor's degrees, 3,891 received master's degrees and 2,284 received doctorate degrees in 45 different fields.
It is now widely regarded as the most prestigious university in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and employs more than one thousand faculty members.
The original establishment of the University of Sarajevo dates back to the 16th century, as an Ottoman institute of higher education. It was called the Ottoman Madrasah of Sarajevo, a religious school teaching Islamic Law, i.e. Sharia Law and was recognized as a university in the confines of the Ottoman Empire, and the Islamic world. It co-existed at the time with several similar institutions (religious schools) held in Orthodox Christian and Catholic monasteries in Bosnia. In the Middle Ages, those were the only kind of educational institutions in Europe. Due to Bosnia's relative stagnation under much later Ottoman rule, the Ottoman Madrasah of Sarajevo lost this status in the late 19th century upon the country's annexation to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, effectively ceasing most education duties until 1949 when the modern University of Sarajevo was established.
Sarajevo is the leading political, social and cultural center of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a prominent center of culture in the Balkans, with its region-wide influence in entertainment, media, fashion, and the arts.
The city is famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Catholicism coexisting there for centuries. Due to its long and rich history of religious and cultural variety, Sarajevo is sometimes called the "Jerusalem of Europe" or "Jerusalem of the Balkans". It was, until late in the 20th century, the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighborhood. A regional center in education, the city is also home to the Balkans' first institution of tertiary education in the form of an Islamic polytechnic called the Saraybosna Osmanlı Medrese, today part of the University of Sarajevo.