Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Town Hall (Beledija or Mala vijećnica – Small Town Hall) in Odžak, the historic building

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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 historic building of the Town Hall (Beledija or Mala viječnica – Small Town Hall) in Odžak is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument stands on cadastral plot no. 896/4, cadastral municipality Odžak, Odžak Municipality,  Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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 of the Odžak Town Hall.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (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.




            The following measures shall be implemented:

Ÿ          all works on the National Monument are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works carried out to a design project approved by the relevant Federal Ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of FBiH;

Ÿ          the building shall be restored to its original use as the town hall;

Ÿ          to preserve the monument and ensure that it can be rehabilitated the following steps shall be taken as a matter of urgency to protect it from further deterioration:

o        conservation of the walls;

o        survey and structural analysis of the walls and load-bearing structure;

o        repair and structural consolidation of the walls and roof;

o        protection of the premises, in particular the walls, from adverse weather

Ÿ          all construction of permanent or temporary buildings or structures on the National Monument is prohibited unless for the sole purpose of the protection and display of the monument;

Ÿ          the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited

Ÿ          all alteration to the height of the buildings around the National Monument is prohibited;

Ÿ          the protection of the surrounding urban area (the čaršija) shall be defined by the regional plan of Odžak town and in that zone no alterations to the townscape/landscape shall be permitted.




            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 specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            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 II-V 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 received a petition from Odžak Municipality on 7 January 2003 to designate the Town Hall as a National Monument.

            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          Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.

Ÿ          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (Odžak municipality: copy of cadastral plan, copy of land registry entry, proof of title)

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 site 


            The Odžak Town Hall is in the very centre of Odžak alongside the Cantonal Court, the police station, the Islamic Community and the new mosque; its address is Trg 7, Odžak.

            Odžak municipality is in northern Bosnia, bounded by the river Sava to the north and the river Bosna to the east. To the west are the slopes of the Vučjak heights and to the south is the plain of the Bosnian Sava basin.

Historical information

            The present-day town of Odžak is referred to in historical records dating from 1593 as a small settlement and fort (Jukić, 1850).  That year a ferman issued by the Sultan introduced into Bosnia the institution of the inheritable odžakluk (from odžak, a holding), allocated to commanders of the Turkish army.  Miralembeg was awarded this region as an odžak, and built a small fort using material from the ruins of an old Roman town.  After his death his son Ibrahim inherited the holding, at which time Odžak was a sizeable settlement and border fortress with a few border guards.

            Historical sources record that the Austrian army crossed the river Sava several times, occupying Odžak, until the signing of the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739, when the new border of Bosnia was established along the river Sava.  Odžak remained at peace for the next 100 years, and advanced culturally and economically.  The urban structure of the town was based on the mahala principle of groups of houses linked by commercial areas.  A wooden mosque known as the Drvenija was also built, but was later burned down.

            The establishment of Austro-Hungarian rule in 1878 in Bosnia and Herzegovina marked the start of a new era for Odžak.  A new, capitalist-style economy was introduced, and a new style of architecture, consisting of taller buildings with business premises on the ground floor and residential accommodation on the upper floors, and the use of more resistant material (baked brick) to comply with new regulations governing building and street layout.

            The Austro-Hungarian period was a period of intensive construction as a means for the new administration to meet the needs both of the authorities and of the population.  In its cultural development, Bosnia and Herzegovina did not lag behind other regions of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.  The eclectic architecture of this period gave rise to numerous buildings of quality in the European style, or styles.  The eclectic nature of architectural expression in Bosnia led to the interpretation of a wholly new style, the so-called oriental order, Moorish architecture or pseudooriental style: which meant that in essence the eclectic method focused on the oriental architectural heritage.  The Moorish period in Spain (7th to 10th century) became the source of ideas and inspiration for Austro-Hungarian architects working in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  World-famous examples of monuments of the period in Spain are the Alhambra or Red Fort in Granada and the Grand Mosque (el Mesquita) in Cordoba.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the most important buildings in the pseudo-Moorish expression are the Town Hall in Sarajevo, built in 1896, designed by Ćiril Iveković, the railway station building in (Bosanski) Brod, designed by Niemeczek, the Brčko Town Hall (Vitek, 1902), the railway station in Bistrik, the Gymnasium in Mostar.  The administration headquarters or «Small Town Hall» in Odžak was built in the same eclectic expression.  It was completed in 1903, as recorded by the inscription over the entrance «Beledija 1903». Beledija means the administrative headquarters of a territorial unit, which also included the residential quarters of the administrators of the unit.


2.  Description of the monument

            The Odžak Town Hall was built in the electic pseudo-Moorish expression, a new architectural expression focusing on the oriental architectural heritage, characterized by the use of a wealth of decorative elements on the facades of the buildings, for which inspiration was usually sought in north Africa and Moorish Spain..

            The ground plan of the Town Hall is an irregular rectangle measuring 22.30 x 13.30 m, with a basement, ground floor and upper floor.  The basic structural elements are the walls and arches, and the building materials are baked brick, stone and steel sections for the staircase and interfloor structure.  Tectonic structures were used in the form of the level floor, and stereotomic structures in the form of the arches above the windows and in the corridors.  The building had a gable roof with a classic wooden roof structure, clad with tiles.  The walls were of baked brick with a plaster finish.  The load-bearing structures of the staircase and rail were of steel section and the steps were stone.

            Strikingly massive surfaces are visible on the facade, with alternate light and dark bands, suggesting alternating layers of baked brick and stone, typical of almost every building of that electic manner.  The facade is separated into ground floor and upper floor sections by a horizontal cordon string-course.  The single-sash ground-fllor windows are rectangular, with horizontal lintels, while those of the upper floor terminate in horseshoe arches, a frequent element of the pseudo-Moorish manner.  The features of the manner are also evident in the use of mouldings around the windows and door, double interlacing, and the painterly treatment of Islamic-style decoration in the form of an infinite series of stylized floral ornaments.  The stylized floral motifs are arrayed on the smooth surface of the facade, filling the space between the arches.  The arches are level with the wall surface, whereas the floral relief and the moulding around the windows stands out from the surface.  Beneath the upper floor windows there is a decorative element composed of a blind arcade of six arches standing out from the background in both colour and relief.  There are small pilasters on either side of the windows, with the effect of supports for the arches.  The window apertures, interlacing, pilasters and decoration form a cohesive whole.

            The entrance is emphasized by the relief treatment of the portal.  To each side are pilasters with socle and torus.  The door lintel is formed by a segmented arch composed of stone blocks that are not of regular form but shaped to fit one against the other, which is also visible on the facade (the use of different colours).  The arch rests on two round columns forming part of the wall.  Above the arch, just beneath the cornice is a field decorated with a floral Lombard frieze, typical of the early Romanesque period and appearing here as part of the eclectic approach to design.  The facade is mainly symmetrically divided.  However, with the disintegration of the structure and the facade, the building is losing its value and the centre of the čaršija its identity.  Near the base of the facade there are small windows serving to ventilate and light the basement areas, which were used for storage and as archives.  The basement is no longer accessible as a result of the present condition of the building.  A very interesting detail of the facade is the balcony on the southern corner, with a railing consisting of four small pillars with a  decoration of rosettes of ornamental Jolnay ceramics.

            The interior is fairly austere.  The ground floor area is divided into two symmetrical halves.  The most interesting details in the interior are the segmented arches over the windows, the elliptical arches in the corridor, and the Lombard frieze extending the entire length of the wall.


3.  Research and conservation and restoration works

            In 1998-99 the north facade wall, which had collapsed, was rebuilt.  At the same time the remaining facade walls were fitted with a horizontal reinforced concrete ring beam to secure them.  The investor was Odžak Municipality.


4.  Current condition of the monument

            The building is in very poor condition.  Since the building was set on fire in 1996, all that remains is the walls, which are in a ruinous state.  The load-bearing structure has suffered major damage, and the roof and interfloor construction has been completely destroyed.  One of the exterior walls (the north wall) collapsed as the result of adverse weather conditions, and has been rebuilt.  There is no access to the basement premises as a result of the collapse of the walls.




            The Town Hall building in Odžak is an example of the architecture of the historicism of the turn of the 19th and 20th century in this part of the world.  For the town of Odžak it was an urban building appropriate to the needs of the authorities.  Given its position as the town's administrative centre, the fact that it is no longer fulfilling its original function represents an urban and functional discontinuity.

            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.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

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

E. Symbolic value

E.iii. traditional value

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.v. location and setting

H. Rarity and representativity

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


            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 historic monument of the Odžak Town Hall as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Dubrić, Aida, Seminar paper: «Refleksija pseudomaurskog stila na arhitekturu sjeverne Bosne» (Reflection of the pseudo-Moorish style on the architecture of northern Bosnia), 2002


Jukić, Ivan Franjo, Zemljopis i povjesnica Bosne (Geography and History of Bosnia) 1850


Krzović, Ibrahim, Arhitektura Bosne i Hercegovine od 1878. do 1914 (Architecture of BiH from 1878 to 1914).  Art Gallery of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1987


Kurto, Nedžad, Arhitektura Bosne i Hercegovine Razvoj Bosanskog stila (Architecture of BiH: Development of the Bosnian style), Sarajevo Publishing International Peace Centre, Sarajevo, 1998





Town Hall in OdžakTown Hall and mosque in Odžak before the 1992Town Hall in 2003Town Hall in Odžak - south facade, photo from 1997
Town Hall in 1997, damages at the north facade wallTown Hall in contextInterior of the Town Hall in OdžakTown Hall in Odžak, ballcony

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