Sarajevo's famed city hall opens to public

SARAJEVO, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The city hall of Sarajevo, one of the landmark buildings in the city, opened to the public on Thursday.

Sarajevo Mayor Ivo Komsic opened the door of the restored city hall to residents and tourists at a brief ceremony.

It will be free of charge for visitors until end of July, and a fee will be charged from Aug. 1 for entrance.

"The hall can become a concert hall as we were able to see with the performance of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Other parts can serve for various kinds of exhibitions," said Komsic.

The city hall, considered the symbol of the cultural identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was first opened in 1896.

During the Bosnian War in the 1990s, the hall was shelled, resulting in huge damage to the building and loss of almost 2 million books and manuscripts.

Structural repairs began in 1996. Total restoration costs stood at some 10 million euros (13.6 million U.S. dollars), mostly donated by the European Union.