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Fethija mosque with harem (courtyard/burial ground), nine tombstones and epitaphs

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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 1 to 7 July 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The Fethija mosque with harem (courtyard/burial ground), nine tombstones and epitaphs in Bihać is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 5106 new no, c.p. 1/367 old no., cadastral municipality Bihać grad, Municipality Bihać, Federation of BiH, 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.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation of the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Commission) 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.




            For the purpose of ensuring the permanent preservation of the monument, the following measures shall apply:

Ÿ         all works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works carried out to a design project approved by the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter:the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of FBiH (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority,

Ÿ         works of any kind to the infrastructure are prohibited unless with the approval of the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority,

Ÿ         the dumping of all kinds of waste on the site of the National Monument is prohibited,

Ÿ         the display and other forms of presentation of the gravestones in Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be carried out on the conditions determined by the Federal Ministry responsible for culture.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for drawing up a project for conservation and restoration works that shall include the following procedures and measures:

Ÿ         a technical survey of the National Monument,

Ÿ         research works including a study of the stability and structure of the walls of the monument and the minaret and proposed repairs,

Ÿ         research works to reveal the original painted layers in the interior (around the mihrab and on the mihrab wall),

Ÿ         research works on the mahfil of the mosque followed by a project to repair the mahfil using original parts,

Ÿ         repair to damage to the entrance area of the building – steps and landing – and repair to the damage to the wall surrounding the complex,

Ÿ         conservation of the tombstones from the mosque harem.


            The owner of the National Monument is required to remove all elements arising from inexpert interventions and to ensure that the building is restored to its condition prior to the start of the said works, based on approval from the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection service.




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




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The removal of the gravestones from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of para. 1 of this Clause, their temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the purpose of display or conservation if it is ascertained that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Permission for the temporary removal of the gravestones from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the collection in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the collection, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the collection shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for town planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, 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 I-VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            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 (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




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




            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 the Federation of BiH.


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



Chairman of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


2 July  2003                                                                    




E l u c i d a t i o n



            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 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 and 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 issued a Decision to add the Fethija mosque and burial ground to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as Fethija mosque – 48 and burial ground by Fethija mosque – 50.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission 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.



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

Ÿ         Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ         Current condition of the property

Ÿ         Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs,

Ÿ         Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


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


1. Details of the monument


            The Fethija mosque is in the lower part of the town of Bihać, in the former Varoš, in the square, Bosanska street, c.p. 5106 new no, 1/367 old no. c.m. Bihać-grad, Municipality Bihać, Federation of BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical data

            The majority of historians are of the view that the earliest reference to the toponym Bihać dates from 1260, in a charter of the Hungarian King Bela IV, which notes that the town was on the island of St. Ladislaw, and that the King bestowed his holding of Krala (Kralje settlement) on the Prior of the Cisterian monastery in perpetuity.  In the middle ages the town developed as a free royal borough with a fortress and two monasteries, one Dominican and one Franciscan, several churches, a large number of commercial and residential buildings, and several defence towers.  With its nine bastions, six towers, four city gates and double surrounding ramparts, fosses and branches of the river Una, Bihać was extremely well fortified at that time. A Glagolitic muniment (a document with the text written in Glagolitic, the original Slav alphabet) dating from the late fourteenth century has a surviving seal showing three of Bihać's towers, the central one with a flag with the inscription S. CIVITATIS. IHIGIENSIS.

            In the sixteenth century Bihać and its surrounding fortresses became part of the so-called Military Frontier consisting of a defensive zone fortified against the increasingly frequent incursions by Ottoman troops. The Ottoman Army, led by the Bey of the Segedin Sanjak, Hasan Pasha Predojević, occupied the town in June 1592.  Over the next three centuries Bihać was to be an important fortress in the extreme west for the Ottoman Empire and the point of departure for Ottoman attacks and incessant pressure on the borders of Croatia.  The specific feature of this fortified town that distinguishes it from others in Bosnia and Herzegovina dating from the Ottoman period is that it preserved its previous urban structure within the city ramparts.  New building did not disrupt the existing external dimensions of the fortress, even though the ramparts were reinforced by new bastions and towers.  Within the ramparts, despite the erection of new buildings, the urban structure remained essentially unaltered. The Gothic Church of St Anthony has survived to this day. After the conquest of Bihać, it was turned into a mosque and given the name Fethija (from Ar. fath, victory).

            There is no reliable document providing evidence of the exact date when the monument was built.  Stylistically, it appears to date from the late fourteenth century. Marko Vego notes that it was built in 1266 and that it served as the borough church under Dominican administration.  In Mujezinović's view, the building probably dated from the fourteenth century, since a plaque close to the apse bore the date 1400.  He also notes that there was a Dominican monastery alongside the church, to which there is reference in the thirteenth century.  In 1836, Radoslav Lopašić wrote: The original layout of the church has been altered somewhat, some windows have been walled up and others pierced; twenty-seven years ago the old belltower was pulled down and the present-day minaret erected to the east.  He also refers to a copperplate engraving of Bišće dating from 1592, when the church was turned into a mosque: It is readily evident from the picture that the church was built in the Gothic style with pointed windows and a high roof.  The belltower had eight storeys, and was very tall, topped on the cornice with several projecting masonry turrets (Erker) and, instead of a roof, a very tall, slender stone steeple. . . .  The great Bihać "Fethija" mosque was a Catholic church consecrated to St Anthony, alongside of which the Dominicans had had a monastery from as far back as the thirteenth century, which still stands to this day, and which the Turkish authorities then as now used as a barracks.  There are clear traces on the north wall of the Fethija that a building of some kind was formerly built on to it, no doubt the said Dominican monastery..  When the Turks turned the church into a mosque, it seemed too high to them, so they made a new, lower ceiling within, above which there is still space up to the vault.

            The Gothic belltower of the building served as a minaret until 1863, when it was so dilapidated that it was pulled down and a new minaret was erected.

            After Bosnia and Herzegovina was occupied by the Austro-Hungarians, the Franciscans built a new church, since they were unable to agree with the authorities on the restitution of the building to the Catholic Church.  Old Muslims from Bihać told us this. (Vego, p. 258).

            During World War II the mosque was damaged – the roof and all the wooden elements in the interior were burned out, and there was damage to the minaret.

            Some of its architectural features influenced the form taken by mosques, including a somewhat more elongated prayer space and the use of elongated windows.  From the nineteenth century onwards, the facades of many of the mosques in the Krajina were altered in appearance.  The old fashion of two rows of windows disappeared, to be replaced by tall, rectangular windows like those of the Fethija, which were to remain a general feature of mosques in the Krajina and also in other regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bećirbegović, M.,1999, pp. 70,71).


Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Historical Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 1256/50 dated 7 November 1950 the building was placed under state protection.

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Historical Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 02-705-3 dated 23 October 1962 the building was protected and listed as a cultural monument.

            The monument is listed on the Provisional List of Cultural Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments under serial nos. Fethija mosque – 48 and burial ground of the Fethija mosque – 50.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 registered the Fethija mosque in Bihać as a category I building, the most typical example of its type, a major achievement, and of national importance.


2. Description of the monument

            The building has a rectangular ground plan, with a length of 22.00 and a width of 11.50 m.  Marko Vego gives slightly different dimensions – 22.15 x 11.90, while Ćiro Truhelka describes the monument as a church 19.5 m long and 9.2 m wide with four Gothic arches on pilasters on the lateral walls serving as the framework for the rest of the vault.

            The building was largely constructed of precisely square-cut blocks of bihacite laid in even rows. The outer surface of the blocks was smooth, and was probably dressed using a stone saw and grinding wheel, tools that are used by stonemasons in the region to this day.  Lime mortar was used as binder, and it is noticeable that the thickness of the pointing varies from place to place, being thinner on the west wall than on the north and south.  The stone blocks are 50 to 60 cm long, except for the quoins, which are 1.10 m. long.  The blocks are 35 cm high.  The thickness of the walls at the base ranges form 1.10 to 1.20 m.

            The north side of the building is partly plastered, with layers of hardcore visible beneath the plaster.  The bihacite blocks are visible from the eastern corner to the point where plaster was applied, a length of 8.70 m.  There was an apse on the east wall, which was removed when the church was turned into a mosque, and two new rectangular windows were added. There is also a small rosette window on the same wall, dating from the same period.  The place where the apse formerly stood is visible from the exterior.

            On the south side, which is entirely built of finely dressed cut stone blocks, there are two large Gothic windows at approximately the same distance from the corners ofo the buildings, of rectangular shape and terminating in broken arches. The window frames are of diagonally cut stone with very restrained moulding on the inner side. During the Ottoman period these windows were partly walled up, leaving only a small aperture. During the Austro-Hungarian period the windows were restored to their original condition. They are 6 m. high with the aperture 1.70 m wide slanting in towards the inside. At the end of the south wall, by the eastern corner of the building, is another, smaller window which probably belonged to the presbytery of the church – this window measures 2 m. high by 1.26 m. wide. The walls of the building terminate in a cornice extending the full length of the building except at the point where the minaret breaks it. The front facade of the building is entirely in the Gothic style, visible both from its proportions and the proportions and treatment of the portal and rosette.

            There are four round columns on either side in the portal, with a flattened column between each. The frieze is 25 cm wide and 90 cm long. There are eight carved flowers on either side. The door is 1.70 m. wide and 3.12 m. high, terminating in a profiled round arch and a Gothic arch.

            There is a rosette above the portal, made of diagonally cut pieces of stone that were then smoothed.  The outer edge of the window is rounded and moulded. The eight arms of the rosette are also of moulded stone and take the form of stylized petals. The inside diameter of the rosette is 154 cm and the outside 210 cm.

            There are also two short stone brackets on the same wall, the first 2 m. from the north corner of the building and the second below the rosette and above the door. These brackets are 4 m. apart, and there was no doubt formerly a third, removed when the minaret was built. They were probably intended to hold small sculptures of saints (Jusić, p. 173).  The ends of the south and north walls of the building project 20 cm. from the surface of the east wall giving them the appearance of pilasters.

            The interior of the building measures 20.80 m. long x 9.13 m. wide, and is plastered so that the stone of the walls is not visible. When the church was converted into a mosque, the interior was adapted, with a mihrab built and the floor raised at an angle in front of it to adjust the orientation towards the south-east (the qibla). As well as the mihrab, a minber and ćurs were also added.

            By the entrance to the building a mahfil 6.00 m. deep and two storeys high was made, taking advantage of the considerable height of the building. The mahfil is made of wood and rests on six wooden pillars with corbels in three transverse rows and on two storeys.

           This structural principle for the mahfil was a rational approach to the alteration of the interior and is evidence of a highly inventive master craftsman, who was able to make use of the considerable height and length of the building.  By building a deep mahfil opposite the mihrab, a space was obtained with a width and height ratio corresponding to that of a mosque (Bećirbegović, M.,1999, pp. 70,71). The entrance to the minaret of the Fethija mosque is from the second storey of the mahfil.

            The minaret of the Fethija mosque is built of the same stone as the building, and stands where the Gothic steeple stood until its demolition.  Its proportions and the way the stone blocks are dressed indicate that it is the work of an outstanding stonemason. The ground plan of the pedestal of the minaret is rectangular, measuring 2.73 x 1.55 m., and its height is somewhat less than that of the building's cornice. The transition from the rectangular base to the sixteensided minaret is achieved between the second and third horizontal rings.

            All the cornices, like the šerefe (balcony) of the minaret, are richly decorated with rope-twist and globular projections. The šerefe railing is also stone, but has been left plain except for a single band 10 cm wide at the top. The top of the shaft of the minaret is decorated with blind broken arches and a shallow stone cornice.

            The mosque was originally roofed with wooden shingles, later replaced by plain tiles. 

Stonemasons' marks:  

            On the outer surfaces of the walls, almost every stone block bears a stonemason's mark.  There are 22 different marks in all, if one counts those facing in different directions. If this assumption [that differing directions do not constitute different marks] is correct, there are in fact 16 different stonemasons' marks, which are shallowly cut and vary in size from 3 to 5 cm.  They are particularly common on the west wall around the portal.  There appears to be no rule as to where the marks were placed, which leads to the conclusion that they were not intended to indicate the order in which the blocks were to be laid, but rather to designate the stonemason who had cut them so as to ensure that each craftsman was paid for the work he completed.  Given the number of different marks, it may be assumed that a considerable number of stonemasons were engaged in building the church, and therefore that it did not take long to build.  All the details are equal in craftsmanship other than the portal, windows and rosettes which are clearly the work of specialist master craftsmen working to special order, as suggested by the quality of workmanship and the fact that these elements have no stonemasons' marks anywhere.

            In addition to the stonemasons' marks on the west wall, there are some graffiti around the portal, which have not been deciphered.       


            There are two inscriptions on the Fethija mosque. The more recent is over the entrance to the mosque, and records the restoration of the mosque in 1312 AH (1894 CE), while the older is on the base of the minaret, carved into a stone plaque measuring 1.60 x 0.90 m, with a smaller plaque with the date below it.  The inscription reads: This minaret was erected, which is without peer, and this venerable mosque was restored, for the noble rule of the head of the illustrious Ottoman family, protector of the faith, sustainer of cities, our lord Sultan Abdul-Aziz-han. The smaller plaque, measuring 90 x 60 cm, bears an inscription reading:  1280 (1863). Written by the humble Hilmi, kajmekam [district head] of Bihać, on the Eternal, the Sustainer.

            The small plaque above the entrance to the mosque bears this inscription: Ya Fattah! This venerable mosque was in great need of repair and with the financial help of the state and the help of the population the roof was repaired and the entire interior painted and decorated.  The renovation was happily completed in 1312 (1894).


            There is a harem by the Fethija mosque, with several nišan tombstones of which two are dated and bear epitaphs.  The first has a rounded turban more resembling a fez or cap, and belonged to Katib Mustafa of Gradačac, dating from 1872, and the other to Džabija Mehmed Javer, also dated 1872. (Mujezinović, 1988, pp. 60-65)


            Before World War I, nine gravestones were taken from the Fethija mosque in Bihać to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo (inventory nos. 5780-5788 of the Museum's Mediaeval Collection).  The slabs had been built into the floor of the entrance to the building in such a way that their reverse sides were uppermost, which meant that they were very well preserved.  Before the church was turned into a mosque some were probably built into the right-hand wall of the church, and others into the left-hand and more noticeable side (Vego, 1954, 269)

            The slabs date from 1519 to 1565, and most of them were from the graves of members of the Croatian nobility serving in and around Bihać. They were made of the local stone, bihacite, which is easily worked.  From the treatment of the slabs it is clear that some of them were made by the same master craftsman or came from the same school.  All the epitaphs are in Latin, in both Humanistic and Gothic script.  There are errors in the language, particularly in the recording of the years.

            Chronological order of the epitaphs:

1. Knight Nikola Farkašić 1519.

2. Knight Ivan Bucković 1520.

3. Knight Bernardin Stivković 1523.

4. Bihać Judge Luka Cvitković 1524.

5. Knights Ivan and Gaspar Kobasić c. 1531, (monument made in 1523)

6. Vicekapetan Petar Rebrović post 1531.

7. Tailor Luka Bihaćanin pre 1551

8. Count Juraj Šubić 1560.

9. Kapetan Ivan Izačić 1565, (Vego, 1954, 269)


1. MEMORIAL TO KNIGHT NIKOLA FARKAŠIĆ, 1519. (inv. no. 5786)

            The memorial is made of bihacite and measures 1.90 m. high by 83 cm. wide by 15 cm. deep.  There is a crack at the base.

            A framed epitaph runs all the way round the slab.  A twelve-pointed rosette is carved at each of the four corners.  The centre of the slab is a rectangle, bearing a coat of arms with heraldic shield in the upper part and a floral motif in the lower.  At the base of the shield are three bars with a leopard passant facing to the right, with on its back a falcon with wings spread. The left wing of the falcon has been damaged by a hollow of later date that has also encroached on part of the epitaph.  Below the coat of arms, on the lower part of the slab, a floral motif rises from the base with leaflets forming a circle in the centre of which is a palm frond,  and two four-leaved branchlets emerging from the circle.

            The epitaph is in sixteenth century Humanistic, and reads:


            Freely translated, this means: Grave of the stout-hearted warrior and noble Nikola Farkašić. Killed in 1519 in battle against the Turks for the  Catholic faith.

            The Farkašić's are an old Croatian aristocratic family first mentioned in 1364. They were knights marshal in Čava. Tomo Farkašić held Podzvizd as his castellan in 1495.  Nikola was probably his son, killed – as the epitaph recounts – in 1519 in battle against the Turks. The Farkašić family is later referred to as lords of Sokol-grad, but under the name Vragović (Vego, 1954, p. 266, memorial no. 7).

            In the treatment of the floral motifs, the palm frond in a circle and the rosettes at the corners of the epitaph, the memorial is similar to that to Petar Rebrović (memorial no. 6) dating from 1531, but in the lettering of the epitaph and the rosettes it resembles that of Bernardin Stivković dating from 1523 (memorial no. 3).  The same type and treatment of the rosettes in the epitaph also appears in the memorial to Ivan and Gaspar Kobasić dating from 1531 (memorial no. 5).  It may thus be assumed that all these memorial stones were the work of a single stonemason or of the same school (Vego, 1954, pp. 260, 266, memorial no. 7).


2. MEMORIAL TO  IVAN BUCKOVIĆ, 1520 (inv.no. 5787)

            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.85 m. high by 85 cm. wide by 12 cm. deep.

The treatment is simple, with the epitaph running around three sides of the edge and over into part of the fourth long side.  Within the field, surrounded by the epitaph, unlike most of the other slabs, is a coat of arms with heraldic shield, measuring 50 x 45 cm.  The shield bears a simple heraldic symbol of what appears to be a sword of some kind similar to the blade of a glefa [a very effective weapon resembling a scythe used by footsoldiers in battle with cavalry] with a sharp point (added in the fifteenth century), and a six-pointed star.  This was probably the coat of arms of the Bucković family.  The lower part of the slab is left plain.

            The epitaph is in sixteenth century Humanistic, and is unframed, unlike those on the other memorials.  The first two numbers indicating the year of the epitaph are in Roman numerals and the other two in Arabic numerals (ID20 = 1520). The epitaph reads


            Freely translated, this means: Grave of the esteemed man Ivan Bucković and his heirs. 1520.

            In the use of the term circvmspectus it may be assumed that Bucković was a prominent Bihać citizen, although there is no precise information about the family. They are assumed to have been Bihać cavalrymen (knights) (Vego, 1954, pp. 266-267, memorial no. 8).   



            The memorial is of bihacite, and measure 1.92 cm. high by 83 cm. wide by 17 cm. thick.

It is well preserved apart from minor damage to the upper left hand side and a small crack at the base.  The edging and epitaph are designed in the same way as those of memorial no. 1, suggesting that they are the work of the same master craftsman or school of stonemasons.

            The coat of arms of the Stivković family occupies the upper half of the slab, with a heraldic shield measuring 94 x 53 cm, bearing the following symbols and heraldic figures: in the centre, an arm embowed holding a short dagger with bent hilt.  Between the arm and the dagger is an ear of wheat and an oak branchlet with two acorns and two leaves.  Parallel to the forearm is a fish facing to the right, and beneath it a crab facing left.  The coat of arms has a frame terminating in a palm frond.  There is a six-pointed star to the right and left of the frond.

The lower part of the slab is occupied by the epitaph, in fifteenth century Humanistic with some features of Gothic, reading:


            Freely translated, this means: Here lies buried the headless body of a stout-hearted soldier, the noble Bernardin Stivković, cut down in A.D. 1523 fighting for the Catholic faith.  With him in this grave lie the bodies of the honourable warriors of the Stivković clan.

            The heraldic symbol of an arm to the shoulder holding a dagger is typical of judicial or military nobles.  Bernardin Stivković was probably a military figure who lost his life fighting the Ottomans in the Krajina (frontier) region, whose head the Ottomans cut off as one of the leaders of the battle of 1523. The Stivković family are known to have gone on living in Bihać even after this. The 1551 census of the infantry of the Bihać kapetanija lists a Štifković (Stivković) in Ripač near Bihać, and a report by Vuk Engelbert  Auerspreg of Karlovac gives the name of one Pavle Štivković with the date 17 December 1583 (Vego, 1954, pp. 261/262, memorial no. 3).



            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.79 m. high by 85 cm. wide by 18 cm. thick.  The slab is damaged, with the right hand lower corner missing.

            An unframed epitaph runs around the entire edge of the slab.

            The upper half of the slab, where the coat of arms is engraved, has been hollowed out so that the coat of arms is in shallow relief.  This part of the slab is decorated by a coat of arms with heraldic shield terminating in a fleur de lis, with a rosette on either side.  Within the shield is an eagle with wings outspread, standing on a branchlet, with a six-pointed star on either side of the eagle's legs. The epitaph ends in the centre of the slab beneath the coat of arms.

The epitaph is in sixteenth century Humanistic.  The first two numbers constituting the date are in Arabic numerals and the other two in Roman numerals (15XXIIII = 1524). The epitaph reads:


            Freely translated, this means: Grave of the noble Luka Cvitković judge of the court of Bihać municipality, who made it for himself and his heirs in 1524.

            The Cvitković's were Croatian nobles. During the reign of King Ludwig II they held the post of judge in Bihać.  It was common, after the death of a judge, for his successor to be appointed from the same family; and thus after Luka's death, there is reference to the new judge, Grgur Cvitković.  The same historical sources reveal that Nikola Cvitković lost his life in battle against the Ottomans in 1579, and that the Cvitković's were bound, along with the Draginić's, to provide four wagons for the fortress in 1594, which is evidence of the continued presence of the family in the region (Vego, 1954, pp. 265-266, memorial no. 6).



            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.69 m. high by 1 m. wide by 15 cm. thick.

It has minor damage of a crack at the base.

            The epitaph runs around the edge of the slab.  At each corner is a twelve-pointed rosette, as on the memorials to Petar Rebrović (memorial no. 6) and Bernardin Stivković (memorial no. 3).

The centre of the slab is rectangular, with the upper half occupied by the coat of arms of the Kobasić family, consisting of a heraldic shield measuring 53 x 94 cm entirely composed of heraldic motifs: a helmet with visor raised and crest, a shield, an arm in armour holding a dagger with a curved hilt.  A helmet is impaled on the dagger, which is 45 cm. long.  To the left of the crested helmet are the first two numbers of the year, 15, and to the left the other two, 23 = 1523, with a six-pointed star.

            The lower half of the slab is occupied by floral motifs – 10 fleur de lis and a palm frond facing downwards.  The palm frond is similar to those on the memorials to Petar Rebrović (no. 6), Bernardin Stivković (no. 3) and Nikola Farkašić (no. 1), suggesting that they are the work of the same mastercraftsman or school of stonemasons.

            The epitaph is in sixteenth-century Humanistic and reads:


            Freely translated, this means: This grave was built by the noble Ivan and Gaspar Kobasić for themselves and their heirs (1523).

            The Kobasić's are an old aristocratic family of considerable importance in the Krajina.  The earliest reference to them is from the fifteenth century.  They were granted extensive lands by the Hungarian kings for their success in battle against the Ottomans. Ivan Kobasić received estates in Sudča, Otok, Topoljani, Omišalj and Bristovica from Ferdinand I. He received Žumberak as a refuge from the Ottomans in case the Krajina were lost. Historical sources refer to Grgur and Petar as Ivan Kobasić's sons.  Gaspar was Ivan's brother, but nothing else is known of him, nor is the brothers' exact date of death known.  Ivan is assumed to have died after 30 May 1531, when there is no further reference to him in the sources.  What is known, from the wording edificavervnt, is that the memorial was made in the brothers' lifetime.

The surname Kobasić is still in use today (Vego, 1954, pp. 262-263, memorial no. 4.)



            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.60 m. high by 66cm. wide by 14 cm. thick.

            The memorial is damaged, with the lower part of the slab missing.

            A framed epitaph runs around the edge of the slab.

            The central part of the slab is a rectangle 40 cm wide, which is hollowed out so that the floral motifs decorating it are shown in shallow relief.  The central part of the rectangle is occupied by an irregular circle with a palm frond facing upwards.  Tendrils emerge from the circle, with fleur de lis facing downwards. The proportions of the decorative motifs are harmonious and the overall impression attractive.

            The epitaph is in sixteenth century Humanistic capitals, with all the letters deeply incised and of the same size.  There is a rosette in each of the upper corners, with eight rounded and four triangular points.

            The epitaph reads:


            Freely translated, this means: Petar Rebrović [made] this grave for himself, his heirs and his clan.  Year of birth. . .

            Petar Rebrović is known from historical sources to have been vicekapetan in Bihać in 1517.  He was one of Bihać's most prominent cavalrymen (knights) of the sixteenth century.  Later, in 1551, other Rebrović's are referred to, Ivan and Juraj, perhaps Petar's sons (Vego, 1954, pp. 260-261, memorial no. 2).



            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 98 cm. high by 69. wide by 14 cm. thick.

            It is damaged, lacking the lower part and the upper right corner, and is cracked in several places.

            The memorial is very simple.  The epitaph runs around the edge of the slab, in deeply incised letters; part of it is missing where the slab is damaged.  Written in equal-sized capital letters in Latin script, the epitaph reads:


            Freely translated, this means: This is the grave of the man Luka a tailor from Bihać and his heirs.

            At that time, the profession of tailor was held in high regard, and since there was a kapetan in Bihać with a large garrison, Luka was probably his military tailor, and had gained a place alongside other knight because of the respect he was held in.  He was not himself a knight; if he had been, he would have had a coat of arms on his memorial.  It is probably because of the damage to the memorial that the date of his death is unknown, but the assumption is that he died before 1551, because he is not listed on the Bihać kapetanija infantry census, where not only soldiers but also goldsmiths, masons and other craftsmen were listed (Vego, 1954, p. 260, memorial no. 1).


8. MEMORIAL TO COUNT JURAJ ŠUBIĆ, 1560 (inv. no. 5188)

            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.47 m. high by  84 cm. wide by 16 cm. thick.

            The slab is damaged, lacking its lower part and cracked in several places; the upper part is illegible as a result of damage.

            A framed epitaph runs around the slab.

            The central, rectangular part of the slab is reserved for the coat of arms, which begins a third of the way down and extends down into the missing part of the slab.  It is clear, nonetheless, that it shows a suit of armour; the breastplate is recognizable, with the left shoulder and a helmeted head with a crest consisting of an eagle's wing in flight position.  The composition is completed by floral motifs of tendrils with leaves. In the upper, damaged part is  leaf and what may be a capital Roman letter I, but the damage is too extensive to be sure.  The coat of arts is artistically executed with deeply incised lines.

            The epitaph is in sixteenth century Humanistics.  The part of the inscription in the upper right section of the memorial is damaged and illegible.  The legible part of the epitaph reads:


            Freely translated, this means: This is the grave of a noble and honourable gentleman. . . February 1560, 46 years.  Rest in peace.

            From the appearance of the coat of arms it may be deduced that Count Juraj was a prominent and wealth individual belonging to the Šubić – Zrinski families, which had a very similar coat of arms (Vego, 1954, pp. 267-268, memorial no. 9).


9. MEMORIAL TO KAPETAN IVAN IZAČIĆ, 1565 (inv. no. 5784)

            The memorial is of bihacite, and measures 1.95 m. high by 77 cm. wide by 16 cm. thick.

It is well preserved, other than two holes which were probably used to attach it.

            A framed inscription runs around the slab.

            The centre of the slab is rectangular.  The design is divided into three separate parts by two bands.

            The upper and lower fields are each decorated with two trefoils emerging from the corners of the rectangle.

            The central field is the largest, and is framed by two bands decorated with trefoils and six-pointed stars.  The trefoils on the left hand side have been damaged by the fixing holes.

Two trefoils point from each corner of the band towards the coat of arms, with a star between them. The upper star has seven points and the lower six.  Beneath the upper star the Latin letter I appears twice.  In the upper part of this field, two smaller leaves project from the frame of the epitaph towards the trefoils.

            The coat of arms occupies the centre of the field and consists of a heraldic shield with a goose facing to the right standing on three bars, with three dots beneath it.

            The inscription is in sixteenth century Humanistic capitals and reads:


            Freely translated, this means: This is the grave of a noble and honourable soldier, captain of His Imperial Majesty, Ivan Izačić and his heirs. Anno Domini 1565.

            The Izačić's were kapetans in Ripač and castellans in Izačić. They are referred to as knights in the fifteenth century. Ivan Izačić is referred to as a cavalryman under the command of Juraj Sauer in 1551, and again in 1562 as a burgraf in the town of !začić (Vego, 1954, pp.. 263-265, memorial no. 5).


3. Research and conservation and restoration works

Ÿ         early nineteenth century – part of windows walled up

Ÿ         1863 – Gothic tower pulled down and minaret built

Ÿ         1894 – repairs to the building, when the gravestones were found set into the floor

Ÿ         late 19th/early 20th century – windows restored to original condition

Ÿ         1946 – šerefe of the minaret repaired

Ÿ         1954 – minaret repaired

Ÿ         1966 – repair works to the ceiling and roof structure

Ÿ         parts of stone cornice made

Ÿ         1968 – works to the interior of the building: windows, repairs to mahfil, reconstruction of the minber, plastering interior walls

Ÿ         during these works, discovery of niches in north wall

Ÿ         2000 – repair works to the roof structure

Ÿ         2000 – archaeological investigations:

Ÿ         test dig I, 2.00 x 2.00 metres, alongside north wall

Ÿ         test dig II, 2.00 x 2.00 metres, alongside north-west corner of the building


            The purpose of the archaeological investigations was to determine how deep the foundations of the main building were and whether it stood on its own foundations or walls from an earlier period or whether it was built on the living rock. The dig was conducted by a team from the Pounje Regional Museum in Bihać headed by Mulabdić Enver, graduate archaeologist.  In test dig I, the first layer to be removed consisted of turf (grass and soil), and the next two of rubble largely consisting of soil and stone.  The living rock appeared at a depth of 10 cm to the north of the cut and 30 cm to the south of the cut in test dig I.  The north wall of the main building stood on a wall built to level the terrain.  The stone was split and bonded with and set on a base of lime mortar.  This levelling wall was about 30 cm high. Once a level base had been achieved, the bihacite masonry began.

            In test dig II, the living rock appeared at a depth of about 40 cm.  There were no archaeological finds in either dig.  The north west corner of the building was partly dug into the rock, probably for stability and as a result of levelling the ground.

            The findings of test dig I did not fully answer the question whether there had been another building – the Dominican monastery, or some such – alongside the north wall of the building.  The use of two different types of stone in the eastern half of the north wall suggests this, as do four stones found in the centre of the dig, bonded to the living rock with lime mortar.  This is not enough to reach any firm conclusions, however.


4. Current condition of the monument

            In 2000 the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina inspected the condition of the building, and found that the minaret of the Fethija mosque was cracking alarmingly along the joints, both horizontally and vertically, along the barrel of the minaret up to the top, which is threatening the stability of the minaret.  The cracks are plain to see although the whole of the body of the minaret is covered with a strong mixture of cement and terazzo aggregate which is having an aggressive effect on the stone.

            An on site inspection in May 2003 ascertained that the building is at direct risk from works to the interior being carried out by the owner of the building without approval from the relevant ministry or under the supervision of the heritage protection authority.  The following was ascertained:

1.       the wooden mahfil and its access staircase have been pulled down;

2.       the floor slabs have been pierced and eight reinforced concrete free-standing bases measuring 2.20 x 2.20 x 0.60 metres have been concreted in;

3.       on each of the reinforced concrete bases an octagonal reinforced concrete pillar has been set with cross-section dimensions of 40 x 40 cm and a height of 3.10 m;

4.       shuttering for horizontal tie beams has been laid across the pillars with part of the shuttering for a reinforced concrete floor slab.

            The gravestones are in the Mediaeval Archaeological Section of the National Museum in Sarajevo and are in good condition.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, adopted at the fourth session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (3 to 9 September 2002), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C. i. quality of workmanship

C.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

D.i. material evidence of a lesser known historical era

D.ii. evidence of historical change

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.v. significance for the identity of a group of people

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.i.  Relation to other elements of the site

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of a group or site

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.iii. use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling

G.vii. other internal and external factors

H. Rarity and representativity

H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style

H.ii. outstanding work of art or architecture


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         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.




            During the procedure to designate the Fethija mosque in Bihać as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Dr Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi, AVRUPA 'DA OSMANLY MIMARI ESERLERI, II f.3 kitab, Baha Matabaasi Istanbul, 1981


Bećirbegović, Madžida, Džamije sa drvenom munarom u Bosni i Hercegovini (Mosques with wooden minarets in BiH) Sarajevo Publishing, pp. 70,71, 1999


Jusić, Enisa, Srednjevijekovna crkva sv. Antuna – sadašnja džamija Fethija u Bihaću (The mediaeval church of St Anthony – now the Fethija mosque in Bihać), collected papers of the regional museum VII, pp. 169-177


Lopašić, Radoslav, Bihać i Bihaćka krajina (Bihać and the Bihać frontier region) Zagreb 1890.


Mrgić-Radojčić, Jelena, Donji Kraji. Krajina srednjovekovne Bosne (Donji Kraji.  Krajina of mediaeval Bosnia), Belgrade, 2002


Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic epigraphics of BiH), Vol. 3, 3rd ed., Cultural heritage series, Sarajevo Publishing, 1998, pp. 61-65


Report on archaeological dig Fethija 2000, Pounja Museum Bihać, 2000


Šišić, Ferdo, Vojvoda Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić i njegovo doba (Duke Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić and his time), Zagreb, 1902


Truhelka, Ćiro, Sredovječni spomenici Bosanske Hrvatske (Mediaeval monuments of the Bosnian Croats), Hrvatsko kolo XXIII, Zagreb, 1942.


Vego, Marko, Crkva sv. Ante (Fethija džamija) (St Anthony's Church – Fetija mosque), Naše starine, pp. 255-268, 1954.

Fethija mosque in BihaćFethija mosque, photo from 1976 and 1941Repair works to the roof structure in 1966Fethija mosque in Bihać, photo from 1976
Drawings of the Fethija mosque<br>Old drawings of the facades<br>PlanWest and south facadeEast and north facadeInterior, photo from 2003
MihrabMahfil before destructionMinaretPortal
Inscription over the portal<br>Detail of the portal<br>Inscriptions on the base of the minaretDetails of the facade<br>RosetteNišan tombstonesGravestones No: 6, 3 and 1

BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: