Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Čaršija mosque and Čaršija in Stolac, 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 5 to 12 May 2003 the Commission adopted a






             The architectural ensemble of the Čaršija mosque and Čaršija in Stolac is hereby designated as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of the mosque ensemble: the mosque, the harem or courtyard with fountain, well and graveyard, the area of the former mekteb, the musafirhana, 15 shops, the kiraethana, gusulhana, large tepa with tepica building, standing on cadastral plots 199, 200, 218, 219, 220, and  322, cadastral municipality Stolac, Stolac 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 drafting and implementing the necessary regional planning documentation at the executive level for the architectural ensemble of the Čaršija mosque and čaršija in Stolac and the resources needed to draft and implement documentation for the rehabilitation of the destroyed monuments within the ensemble. 

            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.




            Protection Zone I covers the area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision.  In this area the following measures shall be enforced:

Ÿ  The erection of new buildings is prohibited

Ÿ  The demolition, alteration, extension or other building works, other than works of rehabilitation, of war-damaged buildings and the conservation and display of the buildings approved and executed under the supervision of the relevant professional authorities, is prohibited

Ÿ  When carrying out the rehabilitation, adaptation and display of individual buildings, their original appearance must be preserved.  During rehabilitation all preserved fragments shall be reintegrated into the appropriate part of the building by the method of anastylosis, or otherwise conserved and presented in appropriate manner

Ÿ  Material that is the same as the original material shall be used and the original methods of treatment of the material and building methods shall be used

Ÿ  The mezarje (graveyard) shall be conserved, renovated, restored and landscaped

Ÿ  All nišan headstones shall be appropriately documented and displayed

Ÿ  The erection of advertising billboards, posters or signposts detrimental to the urban landscape or that block the view is prohibited

Ÿ  The treatment of the pedestrian areas with the Čaršija shall be according to documentation on their original condition (large stone cobbles with non-rounded upper surfaces)

Ÿ  All methods used must be plainly visible


            Protection Zone level II lies within the area covering c.p. 203, 207, 208, 209, od 213 do 217, od 222 do 225, od 230 do 241, 315, 317, 318, 319.  In this zone the following measures shall be enforced

Ÿ  During rehabilitation works on buildings forming part of the Čaršija, the original exterior appearance of the buildings shall be preserved, particularly as regards their size, proportions and materials (stone walls, stone slab roofs and wood)

Ÿ  The buildings shall be used for the same or similar purposes as their original use

Ÿ  The adaptation of the interior of existing buildings to contemporary conditions is permitted, as are alterations to the interior disposition in order to fit installations, instal bathrooms etc.

Ÿ  Infrastructural works are permitted only with the approval of the federal ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the regional planning ministry) and to the conditions stipulated by and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ÿ  The construction of other infrastructural facilities such as electricity pylons, substations, new roads etc. is prohibited

Ÿ  The erection of advertising facilities and temporary structures not in compliance with documentation approved by the regional planning ministry is prohibited.




            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 Government of the Federation, the regional planning ministry, 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 to 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.anek8komisija.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.


            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


No. 08.1-6-915/03

6 May 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 (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.

            At a session held on 1-2 July 1999 the Commission issued a decision to add the site of the Čaršija mosque and čaršija in the old town in Stolac to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under no. 579.

            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  Data on legal protection of the property to date

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

Ÿ  The current state of the property, including the necessary photographs, architectural and video records of the property.


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


1.   Information on the architectural ensemble



a) Location

            The architectural ensemble of the Čaršija mosque and Čaršija in Stolac are in the centre of the town of Stolac, where the three axes of the layout of the town (to the north-east, south-west and south-east) meet.  The centre of the ensemble is formed by the Čaršija mosque and Velika tepa in front of it.

            The architectural ensemble consists of the mosque with its courtyard and fountain, well and graveyard, the site of the former mejtef or religious primary school, the musafirhana or hostel, the han or hall, 15 shops, a kiraethana (reading room), gusulhana (place for laying out the dead), and Velika (old) tepa, on which stands the tepica building.  These comprise cadastral plots 218, 219, 220, 222, 217, 200, 199, 322, cadastral municipality Stolac, Stolac Municipality.                                                                                                                   


 b) Historical information                                                      

            The Stolac čaršija lies in the centre of the Stolac valley, just beneath the fortified Old Town of Stolac (referred to in mediaeval and Turkish documents as Vidoški), on the left bank of the river Bregava.

            The valley of the river Bregava and the Stolac area have been settled without a break from Palaeolithic times to the present day. The earliest human traces in the area can be dated to 16,000 years ago.

            There are no historical documents or material sources enabling one to prove that the centre of the settlement had at one time been on the site of the present-day Čaršija.  At various historical periods and in differing social and political circumstances, it shifted from Badanj, Vrsnik, Čairi, Koštun, Daorson, Zagrad, Luka etc.  Old toponyms explicitly relating to the present-day Čaršija sare Basilije, Ošanići, Dragovilje, Humčine, etc.  There are many sizeable stećak necropolises in the Stolac area, which is evidence that the area was densely populated. Thus far no stećak has been found in the centre of present day Stolac, not even built in as part of later buildings.

            If the present day centre of Stolac was the settled area of Stolac in the mediaeval period, then during the period of Stolac’s history prior to the early sixteenth century the area was wholly uninhabited or went through a stage of discontinuity.  In the summary inventory of the Bosnian sanjak for 1468/69, Stolac, with its alternative name Viduška or Vidoška (1), was described as a settlement with three vineyards, eleven houses, six bachelors and 4524 akčas revenue, and the abandoned site of Stolac/Istolce with two vineyards, half a mill with revenue of 500 akčas a year.  (Gadžo-Kasumović, 2001). However, in the mid fifteenth century the development of the Stolac Čaršija began around the great well outside the present-day Čaršija mosque.  Right up to the mid seventeenth century Vidoška (or the fortified old town of Stolac) was abandoned and unused, which is evidence that Stolac was not a place of any military strategic importance in the early centuries of the Ottoman Empire.  From a bibliographical note dated 1593 it can be ascertained that the fortress of Vidoška in the vilayet of Herzegovina was in ruins in 1593 (H. Hasandedić, 1977).  There are no sources referring to battles or insurrections in the Stolac area, nor to resistance to the establishment of the new rule.  The need to restore the fortress and post guards and a military garrison there arose following the Candian War (1645-1699) when frequent attacks on Stolac by deserters from Dalmatia began.

            In the early sixteenth century the transformation began of this uninhabited area into a kasaba or town.  The construction of the čaršija mosque began alongside the old well, on the site of the old musala.  The mosque is also known to the local people as the Old Masjid, the Carska or Imperial mosque, the mosque with eleven pillars, the mosque in the Tepa, and these names are joined in written sources by the name of the then Sultan, Selim Yavuz.  The Čaršija mosque was erected in 1519 and is the oldest known sizeable building in the Stolac Čaršija.  Two structures forming part of the ensemble of the mosque, which to all appearances re older than the mosque itself, have survived to this day.  In the courtyard, to the left of the entrance to the sofas (porch), an old well and a namaz-taš or stone facing the qibla, which served as a prayer stone, have been preserved.  The namaz-taš, where prayers were performed in the open, stands to the left of the entrance to the sofas of the mosque. Until 1939, when it was covered with a layer of concrete, the old namaz-taš served as a clean stone on which no one would stand who was not in a state of purity or who was wearing shoes, and at which passers-by had a safe place to pray.  There is a tradition that similar stones were placed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as long ago as the fourteenth century; in Stolac this tradition is linked with the name the place retained, «old musalla» or the place where communal prayers were performed in the open, but this cannot be taken as confirmation of the actual date when the stone was placed to mark the direction of the qibla in the centre of present-day Stolac.

            «In pre-Ottoman times there was an Orthodox monastery and surrounding graveyard in the middle of the Stolac čaršija.  It is said that the mosque was built on the foundations of the monastery and that this mahala was previously known as Carina (anon., «Stolac i Rizvanbegovići», Srđ, Dubrovnik, I, no. 7, 16 April 1902.)  This quotation from the periodical Srđ from early 1902, which Ivo Banac ascribes to Milan Rešetar, using the pseudonym Šetar, was regarded throughout the century as speculation, mentioned in passing and impossible to verify.  After the destruction in 1993 of the Čaršija mosque and the entire čaršija in Stolac, the quotation from Srđ was taken up by the local authorities and local Catholic Church when they claimed that the mosque had been built on the foundations of a Catholic church.  In 2001, when extensive investigations were made prior to embarking on the rehabilitation of the demolished mosque, which demonstrated that there were no deeper layers on the site of the mosque, that the mosque foundations were all of a piece and built at the same time as the walls, and that there were visible signs of alterations to the walls (walling up apertures, building on etc.)  During the works of rehabilitation of the mosque all the excavations conducted were recorded; fragments of about 160 nišan tombstones were found in the soil of which there had been no previous record, and not one trace of earlier construction was found.  The quotation from Srđ proved to be entirely without foundation.

            Alongside the mosque a mekteb (sibjan mekteb) or Islamic primary school was built, and a harem or courtyard was built around it. The Stolac tepa arose just in front of the mosque, and was surrounded by the shops that structured the Čaršija.  The historical origins and development of the public and charitable institutions, public buildings, buildings for trade and production and so on, which constituted the Stolac Čaršija, is linked to the establishment of vakufs or endowments.  Many of the Stolac vakufs in the Čaršija, which developed from the late fifteenth century on, have been lost or destroyed.  For the most part the documents on the endowments that survived physically until 1993 are those that have been preserved.  More than 80 vakufs were registered in and around Stolac, more than anywhere else in Herzegovina other than Mostar.  Among the vakifs of Stolac those who left the most significant endowments were Silahdar Husein-paša, hadži Salih Buro, Ismail-kapetan Šarić, hadži alija Hadžisalihović and Ali-paša Rizvanbegović.

            The most important building in the Čaršija (the musafirhana) belongs to the vakuf of the greatest known Stolac vakif (endower), Silahdar Husein–paša of the famous Stolac kapetan family Šarić.  Every chance traveller was entitled to free overnight accommodation and food.  Silahdar Husein-paša also built ten shops around the musafirhana, the rents from which were used to maintain and repair the musafirhana, and part of the revenue was also intended to pay the teacher in the mekteb of the Čaršija mosque.  Silahdar Husein-paša lived in Istanbul in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century and held high office at court.  His vakuf was managed by the Šarić family. In 1226 AH (1811 CE) an imperial berat was issued on the management of the vakuf of Silahdar Husein-paša.  Pursuant to the vakufnama, the vakuf was originally managed by Osman-kapetan Šarić, followed after his death by Ismail-kapetan Šarić, and after him Husein-kapetan Šarić.

            The Stolac čaršija was an imperial čaršija, “suki sultan”, or central public town square, on which fermans or imperial decrees were read out in public, and the public sale of movable and immovable property was conducted, soldiers were summoned to battle, and so on.  With the further development of vakufs in Stolac, shops were built around the mosque and the harem extending south-eastwards from the mosque.  The great harem was located behind a row of shops and storerooms to the north-east of the mosque.

            To the north-west of the entrance to the mosque, in an area surrounded by shops and the musafirhana, agricultural products were traded.  This was the area known as the tepa.  Here, as in the majority of the čaršijas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there was a mixture of religious, public and charitable buildings, artisans, merchants and traders and a vegetable market.  Part of everyday custom was market day, a powerful ethnological factor in the formation of the Stolac heritage, when people from the surrounding area assembled in the town centre and not only traded goods but also the folk tales and customs comprised in costume, song, the sale of hand-crafted items and so on.  In Stolac this mixture of content, which contributed to the highly public nature of the area, was preserved until the 1970s, when a new tepa was built on the site of the Čaršija or Asker harem, south east of the mosque.

            In the mid seventeenth century Stolac became a kadiluk, taking in the nahijas of Viduška and Dabri.  Over time the Stolac čaršija expanded along the river  Bregava, west and north of the centre around the Čaršija mosque that is now known as the čaršija by the mosque.  The small čaršija developed alongside the Podgradska mosque, and the Ćuprija čaršija around the hammam and Ćuprija mosque.  Rows of commercial and public buildings linked the Small and Ćuprija čaršijas with the Carska or imperial čaršija to form the Stolac Čaršija.  Within the čaršija in this form, around three centres of various importance in the structure of the town over the centuries, public buildings were erected: the hammam, clock tower, dershana where classes were held, the kiraethana or reading room, the mekteb, and three hans.

            It has been established from eighteenth century defters that at that time the following crafts were present in Stolac: terzije (tailors in fine quality cloth), berberi (barbers or barber-surgeons who also circumcized Muslim boys), sarači (leather workers and saddlers), and tabaci (tanners). The Stolac čaršija consisted of some 150 to 200 shops, among them coffee-shops and inns.  The traders of Stolac maintained trading links with Gabela, Dubrovnik, and even Cairo.

            At the end of the nineteenth century the Čaršija mosque and Stolac čaršija were in very poor condition: the roof of the mosque was damaged and many of the shops were closed, evidence of the difficult economic circumstances of Stolac at that time.

            The harem with its old graves lay at the very centre of the Čaršija, alongside the Čaršija mosque; most of the graves were to the south-east and north-east of the mosque.  In 1955 the State Secretariat for General  Administrative Affairs and Budget of NRBiH, at the proposal of the National Committee of Stolac county, issued a ruling for the expropriation of the harem of the Čaršija mosque with an area of 1536 sq.m. for the purpose of building a children’s playground.  The old Asker (soldiers’) graveyard right by the mosque to the south-east was destroyed in this way.  That same year the State Secretariat for General Administrative Affairs and Budget of NR BiH issued another Ruling authorizing the National Committee of Stolac county to effect the complete expropriation of the burial ground to the north-east of the Čaršija mosque, on c.p. II/322, known as the Great Harem, with a total area of 8340 sq.m., for the purpose of building a general programme gymnasium high school in Stolac.  During the process of expropriation the head of the Administrative and Legal Department of the State Secretariat wrote to the National Committee of Stolac county: “Please reconsider the extent of the expropriation, since it is the view of this Secretariat that the area of the site of 8340 sq.m. is too large for the said purpose.”  The Secretary of the National Committee of Stolac county replied: “We are of the view that it is not too large, given that the school should have a school yard and that the monument to fallen soldiers of World War II stands on the site.”

            During the erection of the gymnasium and “monument to fallen soldiers of World War II” a row of shops and storehouses outside the Great Harem was demolished, which belonged to the Stolac vakufs and were part of the Stolac čaršija.

            The mekteb in the mosque courtyard was demolished at the same time as the expropriation of the mosque land, and on the site a shop with a flat roof was erected.

            In the 1970s the destruction of the Stolac čaršija continued when a row of shops were replaced by the present day department store and business and office premises where part of the municipal offices were also housed.

            In the summer of 1993 the Čaršija mosque and the entire Stolac čaršija was razed to the ground and the remains taken away in lorries and dumped in the Bregava and Radimlja riverbeds.

            The monument to “fallen soldiers of World War II” in the Great Harem was destroyed, and close to it a monument to a nineteenth century Chetnik military leader (active towards the end of Turkish rule), the Catholic priest Don Ivan Musić, was set up on a pedestal built from the stone of the demolished mosque.

            On 22 August 2001 the rehabilitation of the Čaršija mosque began, which is still under way.




c) Legal status to date

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH in Sarajevo, no. 799/52, dated 1952, the Careva mosque in Stolac was protected as a cultural monument. 

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH in Sarajevo, no. 02-833-3 dated 1962, the Careva mosque in Stolac was entered in the register of immovable cultural monuments under serial no. 123.

            The Regional Plan for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 recorded and listed the Careva mosque as a Category 1 monument.

            The Careva mosque in Stolac is registered as the «site of the Careva mosque and its bazaar in the old town» on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, as no. 579.

            The Federal Ministry of Regional Planning and the  Environment issued a Ruling (no. UPI/02-23-2-83/01 dated 26 October 2001) granting permission for the construction or rebuilding of the mosque ensemble of the Čaršija (Sultan Selim, Careva) mosque and its accompanying courtyard and graveyard, fountain, well, surrounding walls and other destroyed elements of the architectural ensemble in Stolac (on c.p. nos. II/218, II/219, II/220, c.m.. Stolac, Stolac Municipality, with a total surface area of 1436 m2 and which is the property of the Islamic Community, vakuf commission of Stolac).


2. Description of the monument

            The architectural ensemble with the mosque consisted of the mosque, its courtyard and ancillary facilities, the musafirhana, the pavilion with scales on the Tepa shops, and the kiraethana. The site of the Čaršija mosque was that of the old musala, laid out in the shape of a prayer mat, with the top facing the qibla or direction of prayer.

            It is very likely that the centre of the valley, as the lowest point chosen to build the first mosque, around which the settlement then developed with its various public buildings immediately alongside the mosque and private buildings separate, facing the mosque.  The siting of the mosque at the lowest point of the town with all the surrounding buildings facing towards it on higher elevations, is typical of the structure of Bosnian towns that originated under the influence of Islam, given that this position of the central mosque determines and shapes the urban centre in the part of the town where all the lines of force met.  Unlike the sites chosen for mosques, churches (both Orthodox and Catholic) were usually placed on the highest and most prominent place in town and facing the other buildings beneath them.

            The mosque complex consisted of the mosque, the well, the harem alongside the mosque, the fountain in the axis of the portal, the gusulhana and the harem walls.

            The Čaršija mosque is the most common name for the religious building in the centre of Stolac, but it is also known as the Old Masjid, the mosque on Stolac musalla, the Mosque on the Tepi, the mosque with eleven pillars, the Imperial mosque, the mosque of  Sultan Selim Yavuz.  It is one of the largest mosques built in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the sixteenth century, measuring 18.30 x 15.30 metres (the Ferhadija in Banja Luka measured 18.33 x 14.47, the Ferhadija in Sarajevo measures 13.85 x 17.85, the Imperial mosque in Sarajevo measures 15.32 x 15.42, the town mosque in Cazin 18.00 x 12.40 m. etc.)

            The most important details concerning the construction and renovation of the mosque are to be learned from the two inscriptions above the entrance.  These inscriptions were in Turkish, reading in translation:

            This mosque was erected by Sultan Selim in 925 AH (1519 CE)

The light-filled mosque of lord Sultan Selim-han, conquerer of Egypt, built it in fine fashion, but there came the need for repairs, and everyone anxiously awaited its renovation; and thus benefactors did renovate it in the name of God.  May God’s guidance and goodness be with them ever!  This edifice is painted with fine adornments and resembles a beauty clad in silken garments.  The vaults of this mosque soar to the heights and its foundations rest on sincerity.  It is no wonder if the Eternal House itself envies its beauty! Vehbija, may all those who devoted their efforts to renovating it be ascribed a great award in the book of resurrection!   The renovation of sultan Selim’s mosque is expressed in a chronogram: the rapturous renovation of the mosque in a new mode! 1203 (1788).


            The building that survived until 1993 was one of the three oldest in Herzegovina and among the oldest in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole.  In the way it was built there is clear evidence of the continuation of the mediaeval architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, most clearly seen in the construction of houses. Evidence of this continuation of building style in the area is the note of the Commission for entry in the register of cultural monuments (reg. No. 799/52 dated 25 October 1952, registered as no. 123 pursuant to ruling 02-833-3 dated 18 April 1962) stating that the structure of the mosque betrays the work of local master craftsmen who made an elongated structure avoiding a large span.  In all it can be seen that the shape of the mosque conforms completely to the principles of this type of construction, but that it has nothing to do with imported building skills. On the other hand, the mosque has deep and wide sofas, appropriate to the climatic conditions in Stolac.  The depth of the sofas is 4.25m, somewhat less than half the span of the interior space. Although the interior gives the impression of being a single space, structurally it is divided into three transversal areas.  The roof structure rests on the mihrab wall, five strong wooden pillars arrayed along the transverse axis within the space, the entrance wall, and eight pillars on the sofas.  The elongated inner space of the mosque, despite false assertions that it is of unusual shape, is to be seen in the majority of early mosques.  The need for a central form and square ground plan derived from the structural regularity of mosque building where spatial treatment imposed itself in the encounter with the Byzantine style of building monumental domed buildings of the central type.  There is not a single tradtionally built mosque about which it can be said that the esoteric significance of its expression subordinate to the outward expression.  Since, consistent with the rules of the rite of prayer, the believer is directed to the centre of the world, the qibla (particularly through the performance of the ritual prayer and the pilgrimage to the Kaaba), the longer the mosque, the greater the number of those who can pray in the front row and thus be closer to the qibla.

            The mosque is built of semi-dressed stone from a majdan or quarry close to Stolac, with lime mortar binding.  The walls are about 90 cm. thick and are bound with three rows of oak tiebeams.  The mosque has a hipped roof with hefty split wood rafters with cross section in the form of an angled seat.  This was probably originally overlaid with stone slabs, the usual roofing for similar buildings in sixteenth century Stolac. However, Hivzija Hasandedić (2) cites the interesting fact of an undated letter from the Nevesinje kadija sent to the commissioner in the Gabela port  ordering 3000 roof tiles to be sent for the Stolac mosque.  Based on historical data, Hasandedić concludes that the letter could have been written prior ti 1598.  At that time roof tiles were procured in Dubrovnik, and the palaces of Dubrovnik were roofed with them.  It is not known whether the Stolac mosque was roofed with the tiles that had been ordered.  The northwest face of the roof sloped down over the sofas, and the roof structure at that point rested on eight pillars with moulded corbels on which the wooden tiebeam of the purline rests.  Against the right-hand wall of the mosque, immediately next to the sofas, a twelve-sided ashlar stone minaret was erected, with a height of 25.8 to the alem.

            The pillars in the sofas are of split wood with an average size of 16 x 16 to 20 x 20 cm.  The stone bases of the pillars are set in hollows cut into the large stone blocks that form the front of the sofas.  The purline beam rests on the pillars via simple corbels 20 cm high.  The sofas are paved with bedrock stone slabs 8 to 10 cm thick, and the entrance area between the sofas is paved with large stone blocks with a level footway surface, which remained intact even after demolition.  The portal of the mosque has a moulded frame of miljevina (local limestone).  The arch of the portal is shallow and composed of three segments.  Two motifs are carved excentrically on the headstone: a sun (a motif that reappears below the band of the minaret) and a rose.  The two mosque windows facing onto the sofas have moulded miljevina frames with bars.  The sofas are painted with representations of trees reflecting the reductive expression of wall painting in the arts of Islam in the sixteenth century.  They were probably painted when parts of the sofas were replaced or touched up when the mosque was renovated.


            The interior dimensions of the mosque are 9.18 x 16.37 m, and the height of the central prayer space is 4.72. The mosque interior has eleven pillars, five supporting the central roof beam and six supporting the mahfil.  The symbolism of the number eleven (the eleven spiritual successors of the prophet Muhammad and the 12th in occlusion and awaited, etc.) was often used in the architectural expression of old mosques (for example the Handanija mosque in Prusac) particularly those built by gnostics.  Structural analysis indicates that in most cases the eleven pillars were not required to ensure the load-bearing capacity of the structure, but this supports the assertions that architectural elements did not have a solely structural role.  The pillars measure from 20 x 20 to 25 x 25 cm.  All the pillars have stone bases and graduated foundations of circular section made of quarry stone.  The beams rest on the pillars via moulded wooden corbels 40 cm high and 25 cm deep serving as capitals, and in the interior of the mosque their transition to the level beam is effected by the expression of shallow arches linking the pillars.

            Inside the mosque on either side of the entrance are two mahfils. The right-hand mahfil was entered by a beechwood stairway in the interior of the mosque, and the left hand mahfil was entered by a wooden stairway from the left sofa, through a small door in the thickness of the wall.  The walls of the mosque are plastered with lime plaster and decorated with large levhas.  On the interior entrance wall above the portal is a levha Peace be with you, on the section of that wall at the height of the right-hand mahfil is On the good Bilal Habeshi and at the height of the left-hand mahfil On the good Salman al Farisi; on the right side of the mihrab wall God the Sublime and on the left Muhammad, to the right above the mimber There is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s Messenger and to the left in the corner Abu Bakr and Omar, on the right hand wall Osman and Hasan, on the left-hand wall Ali and Hussain.  The levhas are written in bold nasta’liq script.  On all the walls, near the top below the transition from the vertical face to the wooden šiša ceiling, there is a frieze inscribed with the ninety-nine names of God in kufic script.  All the wooden elements, including the ceiling and the structurally visible elements and mahfil railing, are painted in blue, red, green and yellow.  It is not known whether the polychrome treatment is authentic, but since Mehmed Šarić, in the early twentieth century, painted the stone mihrab, worked out the treatment of painting the stone mimbar, executed painted lunettes with floral decoration above the ten windows, and renovated the painted elements in the sofas, and judging from the palette chosen, the wood was probably painted at that time. Working drawings and a plan for the painting of parts of the Čaršija mosque have been preserved in Šarić's notebook, which is kept in the library in Tešanj.

            The mihrab is of stone, with the body of the mihrab built of bedrock in the lower zone, and of tuff in the upper part.  The visible part of the mihrab, with cut mouldings, is worked in miljevina.  The frame of the mihrab is moulded.  In the lower part of the niche are grooved pilasters, above which are seven horizontal bands converging into a single point at the start of the flat wall.  Each band is divided into rectangular fields carved into the stone.  The crown of the mihrab finishes in a semicircular convexity passing on the lateral sides into slightly curved concave arches.  At the centre of the crown a place is cut for a levha written in nasta’liq: He.  The mihrab was painted later and the decoration shows the influence of baroque.

            The mimber is made of large blocks of bedrock stone.  There is no other known example of a mimber made of such hard stone.

            The kursi is of wood.

            The stone minaret of prismatic section, 25.80 m. high, is built against the right hand wall of the mosque.  It is of ashlar stone with a thin layer of morter binder and iron clamps sealed with lead.  The minaret is decorated above the band with double rows of stylized tulip flowers. The same motif appears below the twisted cornice under the šerefe (balcony).  In the lower half below the band of the minaret there are depressed arches in which a number of motifs of powerful symbolic value are carved (moon, star, rosette, star of David, six-armed cross, ladder).  The railing of the šerefe is solid stone with moulded upper and lower edges.  The barrel of the minaret is roofed with three rows of stone overlapping stone slabs held together by three steel rings. The alem that tops the minaret is copper, with five equal-sized pommels 19 cm in diametre and ending in a japrak or leaf motif on which the copper is etched with the words O God.

            A calligraphic diploma dating from 1271 AH (1854/55 CE) was kept in the mosque; this was issued to the calligrapher Mustafa Hilmija by two of his teachers, Sa'atdži-zada (Sahačić) Ibrahim Remzija and Hajrullah Hajrija, a pupil of Muhamed Tahir. The diploma is written on paper measuring 27 x 34 cm and the texts are framed in multicoloured floral designs (Mujezinović, 1998, pp. 365-366).

            During the 1992-1996 war the mosque was set on fire and dynamited in mid 1993, when it suffered major damage.  In early August 1993 the mosque was again dynamited and razed to the ground with all its ancillary buildings.  The material remaining after it was demolished was removed (Hadžimuhamedović, 1997, p. 66).

            The old well outside the mosque is 11 metres deep.  It is roofed over, and the interior is plastered with a mixture of rich lime and red soil.

            After its destruction and expropriation, the mosque harem was altered.  The state of the harem prior to the destruction in 1993 is described by Mujezinović.  The harem surrounds the mosque on three sides and consists of several dozen nišan tombstones.  According to M. Mujezinović, 27 nišans were recorded, of which five had epitaphs.  In the old days prominent Stolac inhabitants used to be buried in the mosque harem.  Most of the nišans are octagonal in section and made of granite.  Some of them are more than 2 m. tall.  They have no decoration.  The date when burials began to take place in the harem is not known, but the words «Ruhičun el-Fatiha, sene 1071» can be read on part of one of the nišans, which suggests that the oldest dated tombstone dates from 1071 AH (1660 CE).  The most recent to be recorded dates from 1295 AH (1878) (Mujezinović, 1998, pp. 367-368).

            After the destruction of the mosque in the summer of 1993, only a few broken nišans remained on the site where they had formerly stood.  Given that the mosque was razed to the foundations, while the harem was being cleared in 2000 and 2001 and during archaeological observations, fragments of more than 200 nišans were found, which had probably either sunk into the ground or been buried there after the destruction of the harem in 1955.

            Exactly 100 epitaphs on the nišans were legible and documented, whether in whole or in part, which is a significant contribution to the written documents on the history of Stolac.  All of them were photographed, and since it was impossible to determine their original positions they will be treated as museum exhibits under the eaves interpolated within the mosque complex.      

            The fountain outside the mosque was built in 1909 by hajji Salih Behmen.  It was built of stone and consists of a small basin from which the water flows into a larger one, whence it flows through eight pipes.  It is covered with a pyramidal roof with sheet metal covering, resting on eight wooden pillars linked by arches. (Hasandedić, 1990, p. 49)

            The gusulhana stands in the mosque harem, where it was added in 1967, and is accessible both from the street and from the courtyard, to enable religious rituals to be performed without hindrance.

            The building belongs to the oriental-Mediterranean type of townscape value, with a slab roof, pointed stone walls, bars on the windows and framed round-arched doors.  The existing courtyard wall was used as one wall of the building. The interior is appropriate to the function of the building.

            The building consists of three basic areas: the entrance corridor or hajat, a storeroom and the area for washing and laying out.  All the windows are so placed as to avoid any direct view from the street.  Access to the mosque courtyard enables the deceased to be taken to the mejtaš or stone where the deceased is laid outside the mosque (Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Mostar, 1987, p. 1).



            This building is to the west of the Tepa, with its longitudinal axis running south-east/north-east [sic]. It had a gable stone-slab roof.

            The building is architecturally interesting, and was markedly altered by later interventions to the upper parts.  The north-east facade is of ashlar limestone.  The ground floor facade forms an arcade with five regular rounded arches.  Above the pillars, in the hollows of the arches, symbolic decorations were carved on regular blocks of miljevina limestone.  The four lateral arches (two on either side)  marked the entrance to the shops on the ground floor, while a passage through the central and largest arch led beneath the roof of the building into the couryard where there were stables for horses, and a staircase up to the kahveodžak where coffee was brewed, located in the central part of the musafirhana towards the rooms for guests.  The windows on the upper floor were rectangular on the exterior and set in semidomes on the interior.  On the south-east gable was an oculus with miljevina frame with transennas within.  To the west the musafirhana had a courtyard surrounded by a high stone courtyard wall.



            After the completion of the Careva mosque, the building of the sibjan-mekteb was erected close by.  Known as the old mekteb, it remained in use until 1984, when the first mektebi-ibtidaija (Islamic school with a three-year curriculum) was built and opened in Stolac (Hasandedić, 1990, p. 42).  It was a two-storey building with a hipped slate roof, and stood by the south-west door of the mosque complex.  After the mekteb was pulled down that door was walled up.



            Stolac is the only town other than Mostar to have a tepica. The tepica was a small building in the centre of the Tepa, and consisting of four masonry pillars  with a hipped stone-slab roof.  The merchants brought their goods into the tepica under cover when it rained and over night, and the inspector kept scales there (Hasandedić, 1990, p. 54). 



            After the introduction of a printing press in 1866, a number of newssheets began publication in Sarajevo, which led to the opening of reading rooms, usually in premises that were easily accessible, as a rule in the čaršija itself (Bećirbegović, 1974, p. 337).

             The kiraethana was opened in the nineteenth century at the end of Ottoman rule in the region, and was a single room on the upper floor of a building located beside the clock tower.  There was a smithy in the ground floor of the building (Hasandedić, 1990, p. 45)



            The clock tower stood alongside the kiraethana some fifty metres east of the mosque, and dates from the seventeenth century.  Since Evlija Čelebija does not refer to it, the assumption is that it dates from after his visit to Stolac in 1664. In 1838 repair works were carried out on the clock tower during which the bell of the clock was cracked.  The clock tower no longer exists.  It worked until World War I and kept time a la turque.  The Austro-Hungarian authorities removed the bell and used it for war purposes.  The tower was demolished just before World War II (Hasandedić, 1990, p. 52).

            On the site of the clock tower the corner of the foundations can be seen, and it is clear from old photographs that architecturally it resembled the clock towers in Počitelj and Mostar, or the minaret of the mosque in Dabrica, of architectural form built under the influence of the Romanesque-Gothic campanile of Dalmatia (Čelić, 1997, p. 145)



            There were shops around the Tepa, with ćepenci (sing. ćepenak) (double doors of which one, when opened, served to display goods): seven to the south side of the Tepa outside the most up to the entrance of the harem and nine from the entrance to the end of this side, sixteen on the north (which burned in the 1908 fire and which were replaced by new ones with roller shutters), about twenty to the east around the bakery and kiraethana (of which most have disappeared).  Many of the shops and storerooms were east of the nucleus of the old town; alongside the mosque complex were seven premises and on the opposite side of the street around the harem, where a primary school was built after World War II, there were twenty-four shops. On the north side of the street facing the kiraethana were about twenty-five shops with ćepenci.  According to research by H. Džankić, there were 97 shops with ćepenci, 6 without and five stone storerooms.

            The shops were wood-built with only the rear walls, the end walls of the separate terraces of shops, and the low wall to the front on which the ćepenak rested, made of quarry stone.  The floors, the partition walls between the shops, the roofs, the rafters, and the ćepenak itself were wood, mainly trimmed.  The roofs were covered with stone slabs set in lime mortar.  The ćepenak itself consisted of two wings which opened around horizontal hinges, with the upper wing hung from the eaves of the shop and the lower rested on special supports to extend the shop outwards towards the street.  Some of the shops had storage space below the floor (also known as magaza or storeroom), usually entered from the street through an opening below the ćepenak (Čelić, 1997, pp. 143-144).

            Not a single shop has been preserved following the destruction of 1993.


3. Research and conservation and restoration works

Ÿ  The masonry of the minaret of the mosque was redone in 1838 by master stonemason Pero Štembuk, from the island of Korčula. Minor repairs to the roof structure were carried out at the same time.

Ÿ  In 1968 the walls of the interior of the mosque and those of the outside sofas were repainted.

Ÿ  In 2000 the Heritage Centre – Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH drafted a proposal for the reconstruction of the Careva mosque.

Ÿ  In 2000 IPSA drafted a project for the rehabilitation of the Čaršija mosque in Stolac which was approved by ruling of the Federal Minister of Regional Planning and the Environment on 26 October 2001 and on the basis of which investigations are being conducted and the building rehabilitated.


4. Current condition of the monument

            The entire Stolac čaršija, with all its buildings, was destroyed in the summer of 1993.

Ÿ  Works are under way to renovate the complex of the Careva mosque and its courtyard and harem, fountain, well and surrounding walls,

Ÿ  The site is exposed to specific risks (traffic, pollution, weathering);

Ÿ  The buildings, and indeed the entire site, that are not included in rehabilitation projects are at risk of rapid deterioration as a result of the lack of regular maintenance.



            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 is based on the following criteria:

A. Time frame

B. Historic value

C. Artistic and aesthetic value

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical changes

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

D.v. evidence of the typical lifestyle of a certain period

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or traditions

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 group or site

G.  Authenticity

G.iii. use and function

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling


            The following photographs and graphic documents listed below form an integral part of this Decision:

1. Graphic annexes

2. Main project to renovate the Čaršija mosque

3. Photographs


(The text of the elucidation of this Decision and the documentation that forms an integral part of it is based largely on the draft of Amra Hadžimuhamedović’s doctoral dissertion on “The integration of the architectural heritage in post-war reconstruction – the case of Stolac”: University of Sarajevo).



Bećirbegović Madžida, Prosvjetni objekti islamske arhitekture u Bosni i Hercegovini (Educational buildings of Islamic architecture in BiH), Offprint from Priloga za orijentalnu filologiju XX-XXI, Sarajevo, 1974


Čelić Džemal, Slovo Gorčina '82, Stolačka čaršija (Stolac čaršija), Slovo Gorčina, Mostar, 1997


Gadžo-Kasumović, Azra, Stolac u osmanskom periodu (Stolac in the Ottoman Period), Hercegovina, Mostar, 2001


Hasandedić Hivzija, Muslimanska baština u istočnoj Hercegovini (Muslim heritage in eastern Herzegovina), El-Kalem, Sarajevo, 1990


Hadžimuhamedović Amra, Naslijeđe i identitet, Mogući pristupi obnovi historijskih gradskih područja u Bosni i Hercegovini s posebnim osvrtom na Stolac (Heritage and Identity, possible approaches to the renovation of the historic urban areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina with particular reference to Mostar, Sarajevo, 1997.


Hadžimuhamedović Amra, Physical Structure of Stolac, Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, Belgrade 1987


Hadžimuhamedović Amra, Reconstruction of architectural heritage in the process of post-war rehabilitation, Case of Charshi Mosque in Stolac, Mostar 2004, Mostar, 2001


Heritage Centre, Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH, working material for the professional collegium of the Institute in extended complement, Sarajevo, 2000


Institute of Architecture, Town Planning and Regional Planning of the Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo, Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stage B – evaluation of natural and cultural and historical valuables, Sarajevo, 1980


Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Mostar, Gusulhana u Carevoj džamiji u Stocu (Gusulhana in the Careva mosque in  Stolac), blueprints, estimates, archive and lists of annexes, 1987


Kreševljaković Hamdija, Izabrana djela II (Selected Works II), IP «Veselin Masleša», Sarajevo, 1991


Mønnesland Svein, Vipotnik Matjaž, 1001 dan – Bosna i Hercegovina slikom i rječju kroz stoljeća (1001 days – Bosnia and Herzegovina in images and words through the centuries) Sypress Forlag 2001, OsloNorway, 2001


Mujezinović Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika BiH (Islamic epigraphy of BiH), bk. III, Sarajevo, 1998.


Poljarević, Ale, Stolac, grad i architektura (Stolac, town and architecture) Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Zagreb University, 1991


Town Planning Institute of BiH, Draft regional plan for Stolac Municipality, Sarajevo, 1987


[1] The earlierst reference to the name Vidoška dates from 1444.  It was used to designate the Stolac nahija in Turkish documents right up to the eighteenth century

[2] Hasandedić, Hivzija, Sultan Selimova (Careva) džamija u Stocu, Slovo Gorčina, January 1996. godine, Mostar

Čaršija with Clock tower before deconstruction in 1993The site of the Stolac Čaršija and Čaršija mosque after deconstructionČaršija mosque in Stolac after reconstruction in 2003Čaršija mosque in Stolac after reconstruction in 2003
Porch of the Čaršija mosque before deconstruction 1993Minaret of the Čaršija mosque before deconstructionPorch of the Čaršija mosque, portal and painted decoration, before deconstruction 1993Portal of the Čaršija mosque before deconstruction
Gasulhana of the Čaršija mosque before deconstruction in 1993Šadrvan(fountain) of the Čaršija mosque before destructionReconstruction of the Čaršija mosquePorch of the Čaršija mosque during reconstruction
Portal of the Čaršije mosque, photo from 2002Mahfil of the Čaršija mosque during reconstruction in 2002Mihrab of the Čaršija mosque, photo from 2002Kiraethana in Stolac before deconstruction in 1993
Remains of the kiraethana in StolacOld tepa in Stolac before deconstructionRemains of the Old tepa in Stolac 

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