Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Arnaudija mosque (site and remains of architectural ensemble)

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 of 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 site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Arnaudija mosque (mosque of Hasan Defterdar or Defterdarija mosque) in Banja Luka is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the site on which the mosque and the remains of the mosque building, turbe (mausoleum), akšam-taš minaret, stone fountain, harem (courtyard/burial ground) with nišan headstones and courtyard and entrance to the complex were located, together with the stone boundary walls around the architectural complex.

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no.4560 and 4561 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. nos. 29/2, 29/3 and 29/4 (old survey), Land Register entry no.. 815, cadastral municipality Banja Luka, Municipality Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.




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

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.




To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, pertaining to the site defined in clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision:

  • the architectural ensemble of the Arnaudija or Defterdarija mosque in Banja Luka with its accompanying structures and surrounding harem shall be reconstructed on its original site, in its original form, with the same dimensions, of the same or same type of materials, using the same techniques wherever possible, based on the documentation on its original appearance which is an integral part of this Decision;
  • all original fragments of the mosque found on the site or on adjacent plots or the Ramići dump to which they were removed after the demolition of the building and which relate to the authentic building shall be registered, conserved and reintegrated into the reconstructed building by the method of anastylosis;
  • recovered fragments that are too badly damaged to be reintegrated or cannot be reintegrated for other justifiable reasons shall be conserved and displayed appropriately within the architectural ensemble;
  • before the start of reconstruction the surface layers of soil must be removed to reveal the original foundation walls and a detailed survey, repair and consolidation of the original parts of the foundations and walls carried out;
  • all usable material from the original building that can be found must be reintegrated into the mosque building, and the missing parts for which there is documentary evidence shall be made from the same or similar material as the original by the method of repristination;
  • all parts for which there is no reliable documentation shall be treated within the project in such a way as to ensure that their interpolation is clearly visible;
  • damaged bašluk tombstones in the harem shall be renovated;
  • the courtyard within the complex shall be paved with stone slabs.




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 Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning of Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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.


No.: 02-6-122/03-2

2 July 2003



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


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 (hereinafter referred to as Annex 8) and as property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a Decision to add the remains of the Arnaudija mosque to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under serial no. 12.

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:

  • 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 if any, etc.
  • Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property
  • 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 property


The Arnaudija mosque is on the corner of Omladinske and Šoše Mažara streets in  Banja Luka, on land designated as c.p. no.4560, 4561 new survey, 29/2, 29/3, 29/4 old survey, Land Register entry no. 815, c.m. Banja Luka, municipality Banja Luka.

Historical information

The Arnaudija mosque was built by Hasan defterdar, Finance Minister of the Bosnian Pashaluk at the time Ferhad Pasha, his personal friend and signatory to his vakufnama, was governor.  He was probably of Albanian origin, given that the people call his mosque the Arnaudija (from Arnaut, or Albanian). From the stone chronogram above the entrance, the date of construction, 1594/95, is known.

The choice of site for the construction of the mosque was not fortuitous. Accepting Ferhad Pasha's idea for the urbanization of this part of the town, and emphasizing in particular the importance of the road leading from Lauš hill to the river Vrbas, Hasan defterdar erected his mosque at the extreme northern point of this road at the point where it intersects the longitudinal road from Gornji Šeher to Bosanska Gradiška. The laying of this road began in Ferhad Pasha's time, and along it, linking it with the čaršija (trade and crafts centre) a number of public buildings and shops were erected.

The newly-built Arnaudija stood exactly in line with the Ferhadija mosque, giving importance to the area and offering opportunities for further construction.

At the time the mosque was built, Banja Luka was the capital of the Bosnian eyalet, and the Ottoman Empire, under Sultan Mehmed III, was continuing to conquer territory beyond the Sava.

It was at this time, in addition to Ferhad Pasha's arsenal and the bridge which had already been built in the area of the present-day Kastel fortress, that the New Fort or Kal’ai džedit and the mosque within it, which received its name from the Sultan, were also built.

It was then that Banja Luka acquired all the features of a large šeher or town, with its distinct quarters of Gornji and Donji Šeher (Upper and Lower Town) and the Greater and Lesser Čaršijas and the numerous mahalas or residential quarters surrounding them.


2. Description of the property


The Arnadija mosque belongs to the type of domed mosque with portico and stone minaret.  The complex consists of an entrance gateway, the upper part of which was adorned with a small akšam-taš minaret, a cobbled courtyard, the mosque and the harem.

The exterior portico extended along the full length of the entrance front of the mosque. The structure of the portico was supported by four stone columns linked by pointed arches. Below the capitals, the pillars were reinforced by copper rings; copper rings were also fitted above the circular bases of the columns. These bases rested on square plinths. The columns were adorned with capitals decorated with geometric and stalactite motifs.

The central part of the portico provided access to the mosque, while to the sides were sofas raised above floor level. The pointed arches of the portico resting on the columns supported three small domes on drums and pendentives. The central dome was slightly raised, emphasizing the entrance.

There was formerly another, lower portico outside this one, resting on stone pillars and with a pitched pent roof.  The original overlay was perhaps lead sheeting, but historical photodocumentation shows it with plain tiles, no doubt the result of the removal of the lead during World War I as was the case with many other buildings. This second portico was built in the late nineteenth century and completely demolished following  World War II.

The portal was the finest feature of the entrance façade. It was accentuated by a high projecting stone frame, and occupied the entire height of the central section of the portico, projecting out from the wall face. The crowning feature of the portal was its cornice, composed of alternating narrow and broad stylized trefoils. The wavy line of the lower part of the portal niche framed the panel containing the tarih (chronogram) recording the construction of the mosque. The portal framed the door leading into the well-lit square prayer space beneath the dome. The dome was set on a drum which was octagonal on the outside and circular on the inside, following the curve of the dome so that its structural function was not apparent from the interior. The drum transferred the load onto the walls via pointed arches and tripartite ribbed trompes. At each of the four corners of the mosque, at a height of 4.25 m, there were five stepped rows of stalactites filling the area and narrowing towards the top.  The trompes were above the stalactites and framed by pointed arches with pronounced mouldings.  There were two rows of stalactites where they abutted onto the walls. The pointed arches were linked by further slightly accentuated arches that had a purely decorative function.

The mihrab dominated by its height and slender form. It consisted of a projecting stone surround accentuated by hourglass motifs. At the top was a high crown of unfurling flowerbuds. Below this part was a plaque with a calligraphic Qur'anic text. The five-sided mihrab niche was decorated with five rows of carved, painted stalactites. The mihrab was separated by a single step from the mosque floor.

The stone-built mimber of geometric shape occupied a significant position. The top of the entrance section was flamboyantly decorated with large and small stylized flowers similar to those on the portal. Four small pillars linked by ogee arches were covered by a steep coping with an alem (finial). The sides of the mimber were somewhat more simply treated.

The wooden mahfil stood in the corner to the right of the mosque and was reached via the minaret. It abutted on to the walls, with the free-standing part held up by an octagonal pillar. The railing was of wooden slats and rested on a series of projecting consoles.

The ćurs (Ar. kursi, “throne”) of the Arnaudija was of stone finely worked in the form of a bowl.

            The interior of the mosque was lit by windows at three levels. Three walls had five windows each, two at first-floor level and one above these in the centre forming decorative arches. When the turbe was built against the fourth wall two windows were walled up, one ground floor and one at first-floor level. The ground floor windows had stone frames with pronounced mouldings, fitted with iron bars on the outside and wooden shutters on the inside. The drum had eight windows, so set that in following the curve of the inner line of the dome they formed niches of ogee arch shape, while remaining vertical on the outer side. At the time the mosque was destroyed, the upper windows had wooden transennas, though they had originally been of stone.

The minaret of the mosque stood on a massive stone basal pedestal partly built onto the mosque, whereas its octagonal section was free-standing. The join between the shaft and the šerefe (balcony) was effected by stone ashlar giving the impression of a bowl. The šerefe parapet consisted of simple stone slabs with pronounced moulding. The barrel of the minaret beneath the spire ended in a series of small arcades similar to those on the pedestal. The spire was clad with lead sheet and topped by an alem.

The Arnaudija mosque was built of “iced tufa” finished differently in different parts of the building. Regular-shaped blocks were used, but with a somewhat rustic finish. The walls ranged in thickness from 79 to 89 cm. The mortar used as binder when the mosque was built had a high proportion of lime and various materials added to give it better binding qualities between the blocks.  The main dome, smaller domes and interior arches, together with the pendentives, were made of Turkish baked brick as were some parts of the infill between the arches and windows of the turbe.

Since the building was erected by craftsmen with varying degrees of skill, only the facade and parts of the portico and the quoins were built of regular blocks, and the workmanship of the rest of the walls was of lesser quality.

A particular feature of the ensemble was the small akšam-taš minaret built into the wall above the entrance gate and used for the call to evening prayer (akšam namaz, maghrib prayers). It was square in section, with four small pillars linked by Islamic arches, and had a polygonal roof. The akšam-taš was reached via a stone staircase built into the wall. Three mosques in Mostar also have this kind of minaret, but one on the Arnaudija was of finer quality in architectural terms than the Mostar ones (Mujezinović, p. 211).

There was another entrance in an extension to the boundary wall, stone-built in the form of a gateway with a hipped roof. There was a traditional segmented arch on the street side and an architrave on the inside. Against this wall was a small stone fountain with the spout surrounded by a pointed arch standing proud from the wall. Alongside the fountain, which was used by all the inhabitants of the mahala, there was a small niche in the wall where water vessels were left.

The entire courtyard was paved with large stone slabs. 

A specific feature of the Arnaudija mosque was the turbe built on to it where Hasan defterdar and his wife were buried. The turbe was connected directly to the prayer space, although it also had an entrance from the courtyard. It was built while the mosque itself was being built, as can be deduced from the fact that some of the windows on the south-west had been walled up and from the asymmetrical shape of the turbe. All the windows of the turbe are different, as to the shape either of the stalactites or of the broken arches. The tops of the niches in the turbe are also of different shape, some with Islamic arches, some with stalactites. The drum of the turbe has two small windows. The door between the turbe and the mosque was topped by a segmented arch, and the main entrance to the turbe from the courtyard was decorated with stalactites.

To the south-east and part of the south-west was the harem. The oldest nišan headstones dated from the seventeenth centre and were of all kinds, from the archaic style with turbans to steles with calligraphic texts surrounded by borders of ribbon-twist with floral motifs.  Mujezinović recorded „a number of old octagonal nišan tombstones with pyramid-shaped tops.”  They were made of tufa, and none bore an epitaph.

Among the many more recent tombs is that of the Sarajevo merchant Salih-aga Sudžuka, with an epitaph in verse composed by Enverija. The epitaph reads:

Salih aga Sudžuka, who has passed away,

Was a skilled merchant.

After the occupation of Sarajevo by the Austrians,

He came to Banja Luka, where he spent seven years.

After attaining some sixty years of age

He passed away from this life to the abode of bliss.

May God’s mercy be upon him, with a prayer.

Enverija composed this chronogram for him in manqut lettering,

May the merciful Lord illumine Salih-aga’s tomb.

24 Muharram 1342 (1923).


3. Legal status to date

By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 730/50, dated 16 May 1950, the building was placed under state protection and entered in the register of cultural monuments under serial no. 53.

The Arnaudija mosque is listed on the Provision List of National Monuments as „remains of the Arnaudija mosque“ under serial no. 12.

The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Arnaudija mosque in Banja Luka as a Category I building – the most typical example of its kind, a major work, and of national importance.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

After World War II the outer portico with its pitched roof was demolished and the remains removed.  The 1969 earthquake caused some damage to the walls and dome of the mosque, and some restoration work was carried out in 1972-75 consisting of repairing the cracks. At this time the arabesques dating from the Ottoman period (historical documentation) were removed from the interior of the dome as were painted decorations on the walls dating from the Austro-Hungarian period. The mosque was painted in blue and white with only calligraphic texts in gold. The mihrab and mimber were painted at this time in the style of the Ferhadija mosque, using red and blue pigments.


5. Current condition of the property

The mosque was dynamited on 7 March 1993 and its remains removed to garbage dumps and the dump in Ramići. The site was razed and cleared of all traces of the mosque.




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

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape


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














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


Sabira Husedžinović “Dokumenti opstanka, džamije u Banjoj Luci” (Documents on the survival of mosques in Banja Luka) with accompanying bibliography


Architectural documentation originating from prior to 1995


1998.    Mujezinović, Mehmed: Islamska epigrafika Bosna i Hercegovine (Islamic Epigraphics of BiH), Bk. II, 2nd ed, Sarajevo 1998.



Arnaudija mosque, the architectural ensemble*<br> <br> <br>*DOCUMENTATION BY SABIRA HUSEDŽINOVIĆSite of the Arnaudija mosqueHarem and remains of the Arnaudija mosqueEntrance to the harem
Arnaudija mosque*Remains of the mosqueRemains of the wallAkšam tas*
Portico*Interior of the mosque*Mihrab*Mahfil*
Interior*Fragments of the mosque  

BiH jezici 
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