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Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Gabela nr. Capljina, the archaeological site

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 5 to 11 November 2002 the Commission adopted a

 

D E C I S I O N

 

I

 

            The archaeological site of Gabela nr. Čapljina is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The site is located on cadastral plots 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7, 1/591, 1/592, 1/593, 1/594, 1/595, 1/596, 1/597, 1/598, 1/599, 1/600, 1/601, 1/602, 1/603, 1/604, 1/605, Municipality Čapljina, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.

 

II

 

            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be duty  bound to ensure and provide the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision.

The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be duty bound to ensure that a systematic study and presentation of the findings at the archaeological site of Gabela are carried out.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.

            Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is obliged to provide elaboration and carying out of the Programme of Permanent Protection of the Archaeological Area of Gabela.

The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be duty bound to draw up a plan for and implement a Programme for the permanent protection of the archaeological site of Gabela.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.

 

III

 

            The clearance and removal of walls, the construction of new buildings, wood cutting, livestock grazing and other activities that may have the effect of altering the site are prohibited.            

            No industrial facilities, major infrastructure, quarries or potential environmental polluters shall be permitted within a protective zone of a minimum width of 2 km from the outer limits of the protected site.

 

IV

 

            All the legislation in force and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are to be revoked.

 

V

 

Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal services, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the protection and rehabilitation thereof.

 

VI

 

            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Ministry of Urban Planning and the Environment, the Institute for Protection of National Monuments within the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II, III and IV of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.

 

VII

 

            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.

 

VIII

 

Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina are final and enforceable.

 

IX

 

This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH and the Official Gazette of FBiH.

 

            This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.

 

Chairman of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović

 

No.: 01-277/02

06 November 2002,

Sarajevo

 

 

E l u c i d a t i o n

 

I – INTRODUCTION

Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter referred to as Annex 8) and as property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

            The Commission has previously issued a Decision to add the archaeological site of Gabela nr. Čapljina to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 180, and proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.

 

II – PROCEDURE PRIOR TO DECISION

In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

  • Documentation on the location of the property and the current owner and user thereof (Ruling of the Institute for Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of SR BiH, No.: 05-771-1 dated 09 March 1967 in Sarajevo);
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data on war damage if any, data on restoration or any other works on the property if any, etc;
  • Historical, architectural or other documentation on the property.

The findings based on the review of the above documentation are as follows:

 

1. Information on the Site

Location

Gabela is an archaeological site on the right bank of the river Neretva, 5 km. south of Čapljina.

Historical Information

            Gabela is situated in the navigable lower course of the Neretva, off the major road linking the coast with the mountainous hinterland.  The marketplace of Drijevo was located In the area between Višić and St. Vid; during the Middle Ages, and in particular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, it was one of the major markets of the Bosnian State.  Whether located on the right bank of the Neretva on the present-day site of Gabela, or across the river on the left bank, (Tesara [stone-cutter or carpenter] Višići), or in St Vid (formerly known as Narona), this large marketplace with a separate fort, customs house, and harbour, was a widely dispersed settlement on the banks of the Neretva, the course of which was rather different then from now. Dubrovnik (Ragusa) sources refer to it as Drijevo, portus Narenti, forum Narenti and gabella Narente.  The name Gabella appears for the first time in 1465, and with the coming of Ottoman rule, Gabella became the customary name.  Various political and commercial interests strove for dominance over Drijevo: the Ragusan Republic, the Serb rulers, local rulers and feudal lords and the Hungarian kings, and later (in  the second half of the fifteenth century) the Venetians and Ottomans.  The Ottomans penetrated as far as Drijeva and the lower course of the river Neretva for the first time in 1448, seizing the major fortified site of Počitelj from the Hungarians and finally establishing firm rule over it in 1471.  At some point between 1471 and 1473, when the Ottomans finally drove the Vlatković family out of the region, Gabela was also finally conquered.  At the same time, once the situation had calmed down in the area around the lower Neretva, the merchants of Drijeva, who had taken refuge in Pelješac, began gradually returning to Drijevo.  The area thus regained its economic importance, in addition to its strategic significance to the new rulers.   In the defter (official register) of the sandjak of Herzegovina for the years 1475/1477, there is reference to the port of the nahija (administrative region, “municipality”), with Gabela as its principal centre.

            Thanks to its natural and strategic position, navigable river and proximity to the coast, Gabela became the principal defensive outpost in the lower Neretva valley.  The Gabela fort, with its series of fortifications along the frontier between the Ottoman and the Venetian possessions, long remained a bar to attacks by the Venetians and rebels from the south.  Between 1694 and 1715 the Venetians took Gabela, partly rebuilt it, and strengthened part of the existing fortifications.  In late 1715, prior to their withdrawal, fearing that the Ottomans might recapture Gabela, the Venetians mined and set fire to much of the fortifications and the towers in the immediate vicinity.  Following the Požarevac Peace Treaty of 1718, Gabela lost the economic and defence importance it had had for centuries.

 

Legal Status to Date

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH, no. 05-771-1 dated 9 March 1967 in Sarajevo, the site of the old fort of Gabela, Municipality Čapljina, was designed as a cultural monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The site is registered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina as no. 180.

 

2. Description of the Monument

Architecture 

            The fort of Gabela is situated on a low elevation, at an altitude of 68 m above sea-level, which dominates the surroundings thanks to its strategic position. The area within the walls and towers is 28,042 m2.  The fort forms an irregular polygon, adapted to the configuration of its natural setting.

            The earliest reliable data on the old fort of Gabela dates from the mid sixteenth century (1559), but to judge from its appearance and that of the towers it could have been build even before it fell to the Ottomans.  Kreševljaković states that it was built by the Venetians in 1452 (Kreševljaković 1958, p. 415), a hypothesis for which there are good historical arguments, and the shape of the towers is typical of the Middle Ages, while the ground plan shows central European features.  It should not be forgotten that the Hungarians were very much present at that time.  This hypothesis could be proved or disproved by archaeological excavations to uncover the stratum beneath that of the Ottoman period.

The Old Fort or citadel consists of two irregular rectangles, connected only by a large entrance gate. The western area, known as the Great Fort, is much larger than the eastern or Lesser Fort. The total area of the Old Fort is 4,249 m2.  The west wall of the Great Fort (measuring 59 X 71 X 47.5 X 72.5) ends in two towers at each end, circular in plan, whilst the third tower is common to both forts. At the entrance on the north side, which was barrel vaulted, there was a barbican. The west and south walls are 1.90 m thick, and the north and east walls are 1.65 m thick. The south wall is the best preserved, standing 7 m. in height. The upper part of the ramparts had an unbroken line of loopholes. The towers were also mounted with cannons, as confirmed by some historical sources.  The area inside the Great Fort is almost level, and was used to house the garrison.  Among items that have been identified, parts of a water cistern (measuring 11 x 4 m) have been preserved.  The method of construction of the Lesser Fort (measuring 33 X 26.9 X 34.8 X 26.8) makes it the strongest element of the entire system of fortifications of Gabela.  The southern ramparts are built on a cliff, and where they abut onto the west wall there stands the round tower common to both, the walls of which still stand to a height of 10 m.  On the inner side of the ramparts there are to be seen the remains of wooden beams that bore the roof beams of the buildings that abutted onto the walls, while in the upper part of the walls there are the sockets that held the wooden beams bearing the parapet walk used by the military garrison.  As with the Great Fort, there were also premises for military use here.  In the central area of the Lesser Fort are the remains of the Emperor’s Mosque or Mosque of el Fatih, later converted by the Venetians into the church of St. Katarina (St. Anto) in 1649 and again rebuilt as a mosque on the ruins of the church by the Ottomans in 1718.   During excavations in the Lesser Fort in 1979, a smaller cistern was found in the central area, adjacent to the Mosque.

            The New Fort or citadel was built between the years 1660 (when Ali-Paša Čengić became Sandjak Bey [governor] of Herzegovinia for the first time) and 1665 when Evlija Čelebi described it as a completed fortification. This part of the Fort occupies the greater part of the area north of the Old Citadel, with which it forms a single larger defensive complex.  The main entrance was on the west side, for easier access to the settlement.  This gate also gave onto the semicircular-vaulted watchtower.  By analogy with other more substantial fortifications of this kind built by the Ottomans, it may be deduced that the auxiliary entry was built by the Venetians, who captured the Fort in the late seventeenth century and gave it its final appearance by adding the radial sector of the ramparts (the Vauban system of bastions, which the Ottomans did not built in this area).

            In the east wall there is yet another entrance, the door-jambs of which are the finest example of Venetian craftsmanship in the entire complex.  There is yet another specific feature in the method of construction of the ramparts in the New Fort.  The outer face of the perimeter walls are constructed with a lesser incline in so-called škarp, using less mortar, while on the inner face they were banked with earth, the weight of which was the main cause of their deterioration, particularly on the northern side.

Archaeological Finds

            M. Gavrilović carried out archaeological excavations in 1981 and 1982, but excavated no deeper than the base of the Ottoman period, fearing to dig any deeper for a number of reasons, although there were indications that there was also a mediaeval stratum in the fort.  During the course of these excavations some fragments of stone ornamentation were found alongside the south wall of the mosque/church, with a frieze of floral motifs.  Within the ramparts a large bomb, parts of an exploded bomb and a small iron cannonball were found.

            The documentation was lost as a result of war damage to the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Mostar.

            Within the ramparts there is a stone slab with the image of a lion in shallow relief, the symbol of the Republic of Venice.  The slab dates from the period 1693-1715, when the Venetians held Gabela.

 

3. Research and Works of Conservation and Restoration

-         1978 – 1979, excavations conducted as part of the Gabela Research Project, when the auxiliary entrance to the New Fort was excavated on the inner side;

-         1979, discovery of the the cistern inside the Fort;

-         1979 – 1982, excavations by M. Gavrilović as part of the project led by A. Zelenika.

 

4. Current Condition of the Site

Following an inspection of the site conducted on 9 October 2002, the condition of the site was ascertained as follows:

-         The site has suffered no war damage;

-         The site is not exposed to any specific risks;

-         Works of conservation and restoration have been carried out;

-         The area is at risk of rapid deterioration due to the lack of regular maintenance.

 

III - CONCLUSION

            Gabela was of major economic and defence importance in the Middle Ages, and also subsequently, in the Ottoman period.  The well-known trading centre of Drijeva marketplace was located in the area around Gabela, and became the scene of clashes between diverse political interests.  During the Ottoman period, Gabela was the major defence centre of the lower Neretva valley, and the site of frequent clashes between the Ottomans and the Venetians from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02), and with regard to the historic value (B) and landscape value (Fof the site in question, the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

           

The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-           Photographs

-           Drawings

The documentation annexed to the Decision is public and available for view by interested persons on written request to the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Bibliography

- E. Čelebi, Putopis, odlomci o jugoslovenskim zemljama, Sarajevo, 1979 (Travel Chronicle, passages on the countries of Yugoslavia – introduction and translation into local language by H. Šabanović).

- H. Kreševljaković - H. Kapidžić, Stari hercegovački gradovi (Old forts of Herzegovina), Naše starine II, 1954., pp. 9-22;

- H. Kreševljaković - H. Kapidžić, Gabela. Enciklopedija Jugoslavije (Encyclopaedia of Yugoslavia), Vol.3, 1958, 415.

- Đ. Tošić, Trg Drijeva u srednjem vijeku (Drijeva marketplace in the Middle Ages), Sarajevo, 1987.

- A. Zelenika, Gabela kao odbrambeni centar Donje Neretve u doba Turaka (Gabela as Defence Centre of the Lower Neretva in the Turkish Period), Hercegovina 1, Mostar, 1981, 89-118. 



Interior of GabelaRemainsČapljina and Gabela, drawing by P.V. Cornellije, 1678  Southeast tower
Remains of the mosque in fortRemains of the wallsStone slab with the image of a lion  


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