Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Old Fort of Tešanj in Tešanj, the architectural ensemble

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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 architectural ensemble of the Old Fort of Tešanj in Tešanj is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 901, cadastral municipality Tešanj I, Municipality Tešanj, 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.




            To ensure the ongoing protection of the National Monument the following measures shall apply:

            Protection Zone I comprises the site of the old fort of Tešanj as defined in Clause 1 para 2 of this Decision and the area defined as c.p. 902, 896/2, 897.

  • all works are prohibited other than research, conservation and restoration works, including works designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federation Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  • the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public, and may be used for educational and cultural purposes.
  • all construction, felling of timber, works that could have the effect of altering the site, the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not solely intended to protect and display the National Monument are prohibited


The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for ensuring that the following measures are implemented:

  • clearing the walls of vegetation representing a danger to the structure of the monument;
  • repairing the walls of the large bastion, the smaller bastion on the western perimeter ramparts of the fort, the ramparts up to the bastion on the west side of the fort, and part of the northern perimeter ramparts.


The wider area of the architectural ensemble of the Tešanj čaršija shall be defined by a separate Decision of the Commission.




            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby 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 of Regional Planning and the Environment, 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-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.



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No.: 06-893/03-2

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.

            At a session held on 1-2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the architectural ensemble of the old fort of Tešanj, in Tešanj, Municipality Tešanj to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 621.

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:


  • Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.
  • 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



            Tešanj is on the river Tešanjka, a right-hand tributary of the Usora.  The fort stands at the centre of the town on a steep, rocky hill.


Historical information

It is not known who founded the fort, but based on finds of prehistoric pottery in the area of the fortress, and what are possibly remains of Roman brick, it may be assumed that first Illyrians and then Romans inhabited the area, followed later by Slav immigrants.  There is very little information about the mediaeval fort, probably because Tešanj was not on any strategic route.  The first reference to it in written sources dates from 1461, in a charter by which Stjepan Tomašević bestowed Tešanj, as crown lands, to his uncle Radivoj. From Ištvanfi’s references to the history of Hungary it is clear that the Hungarian army, after the Ottoman attack on Srebrnik and then on Tešanj in 1520, torched and destroyed the fort as they retreated.  In the late seventeenth century it had a very important role in Ottoman defense architecture, and was then renovated and fortified to the standards of the day.  In the early eighteenth century, during the reign of Sultan Mustafa (1695-1703) the new, lower part of the fort was built.  Based on written sources – reports by an eighteenth-century Austrian spy and a Turkish report dating from 1833 – it may be inferred that Tešanj was maintained as a well-fortified site until the nineteenth century.  The fort was abandoned in 1840.


2. Description of the monument

            The fort consists of two parts: the first originated during the period of mediaeval rule and the second during the Ottoman period. 


The mediaeval fort

            The first mediaeval fortified settlement was built on the very summit of a rocky hill, where a polygonal, probably seven-sided dungeon tower was built, later known as “Krnja” (1) with an enclosed bailey (2).The foundations of the tower were much lower than the bailey and, to the west, lay on the bedrock.  The bailey was an irregular semicircle with a radius of 26 m.  At the entrance to this oldest part of the fort was a gate (3) measuring 2,00 X 2,00 m, with a round-arched tufa lintel.  On the north-east side of the bailey was a twelve-sided tower (4), 48 m. in circumference, with walls 2.72 m thick at ground floor level.  Given the size of the ground plan it may be assumed that the tower was between 15 and 20 m high and that it had three upper floors.  The ground floor ceiling was an irregular hemispherical vault.  This tower was the most important defensive point of the fort.  The walls had loopholes, of which two have survived; the others were later sealed by the Ottomans using stone slabs.  Between this and the dungeon tower, the present day “Krnja”, a bastion (5) was built in the perimeter wall.  The walls had breastworks with loopholes. The wall joining the Krnja tower and enclosing the bailey to the south-east is 52 m long and 2.40 m thick, of which the breastworks constitute 1.50 m and 0.90 m was used for communications.  The height of the curtain walls ranges from 2 to 10 m, or seen from the outside from 6 to 15 m.  In the bailey there were formerly wooden buildings used as housing and a well that is now filled in.  In the immediate proximity of the twelve-sided tower yet another, smaller, seven-sided projecting tower was built, linked by a wall with the gate (6).  Outside the tower a fosse was dug, with a wooden bridge leading over it to the gate.  A wall 1 m thick ran from the smaller tower parallel with the east wall, enclosing a narrow area forming a trap for the enemy.  At the end was a gate house or guard tower (7).  Political circumstances in the early fifteenth century led to the fort being further strengthened, losing its original features of a mediaeval palace and gradually developing into a fortress.  A forecourt was build, surrounded by thick walls, with an opening for a gate (8).  This wall cut across the fosse protecting the tower, so a channel had to be dug beneath it to allow for rainwater to run off.

            The Tešanj fort acquired its final appearance in the late middle ages.  Yet another, originally projecting gate house (9) was built, which was later to be an important hub of the defence.  This tower was connected to the rest of the fort by a wall between baileys I and II.  At the very edge of the elevation walls were then built enclosing the entire defence system and giving the complex a total of four baileys.  Baileys II, III and IV were used for horticultural purposes.

            The masonry techniques used in building the Tešanj fort are those common to all mediaeval Bosnian forts.  Stone cladding was used into which quarry stone and lime mortar rubble was poured.


Fort dating from theOttoman period

            In 1520 the Ottomans found the fort burned out and ruinous, and left it in that state until the seventeenth century when they were compelled to repair, enlarge and secure it, like most other Bosnian forts.  The old mediaeval Tešanj was renovated and adapted to the methods of warfare of the day, and the new, additional part gave the fort an entirely new appearance.  First to be built was the 20 m high Krnja tower in the old fort (10).  The lower half was solid and built into the rock.  There was a cistern in the ground floor, with a capacity of 70,000 litres of water.  It was roofed with an irregular dome and had a wooden floor dividing it into two storeys. The walls were 2 m. thick.  On the floor above the cistern was an emplacement for small cannon, fired through five openings in the wall of the tower.  Access was via a thick wall and a small square tower (11) reached by stone steps from the bailey. Alongside the Krnja tower, as at the other end of the bailey, there were two bunkers with barrel vault roofs (12) and (13), covered over with a thick layer of soil and vegetation.  The twelve-sided tower was also repaired, divided into two parts and turned into a bastion, with a casemate for the garrison, a gunpowder magazine and an ammunition store.  Gate V, by the tower, 1.50 m. wide, was rebuilt with a round-arched lintel.  To the sides are two pilasters supporting a segmented arch with a pommel in the centre.  Within the frame are a carved crescent moon and nadžak (long-handled axe).  Nearby yet another massive bastion was built with a casemate measuring 8.00 x 2.70 m (14), descending steeply to the foundations of the seven-sided tower.

In the new part of the fort the Ottomans began by building the Dizdareva, a pentagonal tower (15).  As well as a ground floor with a corridor linking the two parts of the fort, the tower had two storeys; the first floor was used for residential purposes and had a casemate corridor, and the second had apartments for the dizdar or fortress commander.  To the north is an entrance gate in the wall, measuring 2.20 x 2.50 m, and to the south, on one of the quoins, two four-sided pyramids are carved.  East of the Dizdareva tower a bastion was built, with an irregularly circular ground plan and a diameter of 23 m.  A tunnel was dug through the centre of the bastion, with casemates to its left and right.  To the north-east and east of the bastion was a large defence wall 90 m long and 2.60 to 2.70 m. thick.  The wall extended all the way to the bastion (16), which German troops turned into a bunker during World War II.  Here, at the very end and at the centre of the bailey, secret exits were left.  The bastion was protected by yet another wall ending in gate II (2.23 x 3.00 m).  Here a tunnel was dug 20 m long leading into the forecourt.  The main entrance to the castle forecourt is gate I, 2.35 x 3.00 m.  Against this a stone bunker was built for the gatehouse guard (17).

The fort is at an altitude of 305 m. above sea level.  It covers a total area of 5,600 sq.m. and has a circumference of 390m.  It is 120 m long, and 80 m wide at its widest point.

Below the old fort, on the steep slope above the Tešanj čaršija, a clock tower was erected.

The clock tower was probably built in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, when the lower part of the old fort was built (Kreševljaković, Selected Works II, 1991, 502).

The clock tower is a single-space building in the form of a truncated pyramid measuring 4.0 x 4.0 m. at the base and 3.5 x 3.5 m. at the top, and a height of 16 m.  The walls are 65 cm thick.  It has a four-sided polygonal roof clad originally with shingles, but now clad with sheet copper.  The entrance aperture, which is in the upper side of the building, measures 77 x 170 m and is larger than any other clock tower entrance in this country.  There are four windows in the upper part, one on each side, but only one side – the side facing the čaršija – has a clock with dials. The present clock was purchased in Vienna – the old clock was removed by German soldiers during World War II. 


3. Legal status to date

           Pursuant to the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 80/51 dated 20 January 1951 in Sarajevo, the old fort of Tešanj was placed under state protection.  By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 02-724-3 dated 18 April 1962 it was entered in the Register of immovable cultural monuments as no. 71.

            Pursuant to the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 79/51 dated 20 January 1951 in Sarajevo, the clock tower in Tešanj was placed under state protection.  By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 02-723-3 dated 18 April 1962 it was entered in the Register of immovable cultural monuments as no. 162.

            The architectural ensemble of the old fort of Tešanj was added to the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments as Tešanj Old Fort, under serial no. 621, and the clock tower under serial no. 620.

            The  Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists the urban ensemble of Tešanj (old fort and outskirts, čaršija, clock tower, mosque and burial ground) as a Category I monument of national importance.  The same Regional Plan lists the Tešanj fort and clock tower individually as Category II monuments.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

1950. the Krnja tower was given a new roof,

1954. conservation and restoration works were carried out on the old fort,

1963. the Dizdareva tower was repaired,

1970. protection works were carried out on the old fort,

1976-1990. research, conservation and restoration works under the supervision of architect Ferhat Mulabegović of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH,

1981-1985. archaeological investigations were carried out led by Đ. Odavić and Z. Žeravica.  A grave belonging to the late Bronze Age was discovered during these works.  The movable archaeological material, which dates from the mediaeval and the Ottoman periods, consists of vessels with an impressed swastika on the base (the workshop mark), vessels with incised wavy lines, bone artefacts, various iron artefacts and glazed pottery.


5. Current condition of the property

            An on site inspection ascertained as follows:

            As a whole the monument is in good condition. The wall revetment is breaking away in four places and the outer walls are crumbling although the entire complex was repaired during the most recent conservation and restoration works. Repairs are thus needed to the following:             

  1. North wall of the large bastion in the northern part of the fort (area of about 10 sq.m.)
  2. Outer revetment of the small bastion on the western perimeter ramparts of the fort (area of about 10 sq.m.)
  3. Revetment on the west side of the wall in bailey IV right by the bastion on the west side of the fort (area of about 10 sq.m.)
  4. Part of the outer revetment of the thick northern perimeter ramparts.  Here the damage is rather less than to the other areas listed.




Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), 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.iv. composition

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

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

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity

I.iii. completeness

I.iv. Undamaged condition


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

o        Photodocumentation;

o        Drawings




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


1953.  Mazalić, Đoko, Tešanj. Journal of the National Museum, n.s. VIII. National Museum, Sarajevo, 1953, 289-302.


1953.  Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Stari bosanski gradovi. (Old Bosnian forts) Naše starine I, Sarajevo, 1953, 1-45.


1957.  Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Sahat-kule u Bosni i Hercegovini, prilog za studij konzervacije (Clock towers in BiH, contribution to conservation study), Naše starine IV, Institute for the Protection of  Cultural Monuments, Sarajevo, 1957, 17-32


1985. Odavić, Đorđe, Tešanj, Srednjovjekovni grad. (Tešanj, a mediaeval fort) Archaeological Review 1985. Federation of Archaeological Societies of Yugoslavia, Ljubljana 1985, 256.


1991. Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Izabrana djela II (Selected Works II), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1991



Entrance to the fortOld Fort of Tešanj Interior of the entrance hall with entrance gate, bunker and tunnel Courtyard,view at the <i>tabija</i>
Dizdar towerKrnja towerKrnja tower, view from the walls of the fort 

BiH jezici 
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