Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Rulers’ court of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Kraljeva Sutjeska, the archaeological site

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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 7 to 11 October 2003 the Commission adopted a







The archaeological site of the rulers’ court of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj Municipality, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plots 1/35, 1/36, 1/37 on the site known as “Grgurevo”, cadastral municipality Sutjeska, and c.p. 365/4 on the site known as “Dvori”, holdings list no. 76/04, c.m. Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The National Monument consists of the complex of the royal court in Grgurevo and Dvori and the movable heritage items found on the archaeological site, now in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and entered in the inventory of finds of the museum.

The provisions relating to protection 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 and display 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 protection 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 on-going protection of the National Monument, the following measures are hereby stipulated: 

Protection Zone I comprises c.p. 1/35, 1/36, 1/37 (old survey, i.e. part of c.p. 1 new survey) in “Grgurevo” and c.p. 365/4 “Dvori”, including the complex of the royal court.

The following measures shall apply in this zone:

·         only works of conservation and restoration works, including works intended for the display of the monument, carried out to a design project approved by the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority), shall be permitted,

·         all construction or works that could have the effect of altering the site, damaging the remains of the walls of the court and the removal of cut stone therefrom are prohibited,

·         the dumping of waste is prohibited.

The site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes.       

Protection Zone II consists of c.p. in Dvori on the right bank of the Urva brook: c.p. 1, 5, the eastern part of plot 6 by the access road, and plots 186 and the northern part of plot 187 by the access road.

In this zone the following measures shall apply:

·         provide access to the National Monument by the road between the houses on plot c.p. 1 and the plots to the west of the road c.p. 185 and 186

·         provide suitable access to the upper palace, demolish structures blocking access and clear vegetation

·         new construction is prohibited, but works of regular maintenance or the renovation of buildings destroyed or damaged during the war shall be permitted, subject to observing the limits of two storeys (6.5 m to the roof cornice), maximum horizontal dimensions of 12 x 10 m, and a roof pitch of 40 degrees;

·         all works and the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures detrimental to the natural environment or blocking the view of the National Monument are prohibited;

·         the dumping of all kinds of waste  is prohibited.




The removal of the movable items specified in Clause 1 para 3 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable items for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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




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 responsible for regional planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




                        The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




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




This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH.


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


No.: 06-6-42/03-3

8 October 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 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 to 2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the historic site of the ruling court of the 14th and 15th centuries in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj Municipality to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 291.

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, 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.


1. Information on the property


Kraljeva Sutjeska lies in an elliptical valley formed by the river Trstionica. It is surrounded by the slopes of Teševsko hill and those of Krst and Ježevica.  It is 12 km from Kakanj and 56 km from Sarajevo, and is reached from the main Sarajevo Zenica road by the village of Ćatići.

The ruling court was built on the northern edge of the valley, on the slopes of Treševsko hill, on both banks of the Urva brook.  Since the terrain is steep, with a slope of about 500, over the past 500 years the bed of the Urva brook has deepened by 6-10 m and floor waters have carried away most of the ruins.  Part of the complex on Grgurevo is alongside the Franciscan monastery and the other on the opposite side of Urva brook in Dvori.

Historical data

Three sites on the edges of Kraljeva Sutjeska were already settled in prehistoric times.  It is assumed that the area was also inhabited in Roman times, although no finds have been made that would confirm this  (Anđelić, 1972, 201).

The wider region belonged to the mediaeval county of Trstivnici.  In the fourteenth and fifteenth century Sutjeska and the nearby fortified town of Bobovac became the leading cultural centres of central or so-called Upper Bosnia, with its own specific style and regional features – the central  Bosnian cultural circle, so-called.

The royal court in Sutjeska was built during the reign of Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić, towards the end of the first half of the fourteenth century.  Alongside the court there developed a small urban settlement, and a Franciscan monastery was also built, with the church of St John.

The earliest reference in written sources dates from 28 December 1341, when the Venetian woodcarver Nicola undertook, by agreement with the prince of Dubrovnik, to work at the court of  Ban Stjepan for four years.  He probably worked in both courts, Sutjeska and Bobovac (Fisković, 1955, 14).

There are some fifty sources referring to Sutjeska as the place where the rulers held official court.  Twenty-eight documents refer to the issuing of official documents, sixteen to visits by diplomatic representatives, eight to building, demolition, council sessions, the death of the king and the Franciscans.  Eighteen documents refer to the ruling court as the royal residence, “naše stono misto” – the place where we hold court.

From the reign of King Tvrtko I it became the most important site where the Bosnian rulers held court, and the greatest number of documents issued by the royal chancellary relate to this.  As well as King Tvrtko I, whose documents date from 1378 to 1390, King Dabiša (1392 to 1395) and Queen Jelena (1387), Ostoja (1399), Tvrtko II (1407), Stjepan Ostojić (1419, and Tvrtko II (1423-1443) and Tomaš (1446 to 1457) also issued royal charters.

            In the Ottoman defter (census) for 1469 there is reference to the market and monastery of Sutjeska in the nahiye of Bobovac (Šabanović, 1954, 123).           

            The last document issued from Sutjeska dates from 1480.


2. Description of the property

            The self-contained ensemble of palace buildings in Kraljeva Sutjeska, an independent group of court buildings, is an example of a ruling court built on an open site without special fortifications.  It extended along both banks of the little Urva brook.

            On the left (east) bank is the site known as Grgurevo, a small slope of Teševsko hill.  In order to build part of the court complex, artificial terraces were levelled.  The top of the slope was levelled, and an artificial terrace was made midway down the hillside, on which the largest building of the ruling court, the Kraljeva Sutjeska Eastern Palace, was erected.  A massive retaining wall was built below it and a large terrace on which a church was built – the royal chapel, dedicated to St Gregory the Miracleworker (Grgur – hence the name of the area, Grgurevo), a saint associated with the Bosnian Church, immediately beneath the foundations of the west wing of the palace.  Given the position of Grgurevo in relation to the valley and the settlement as a whole, and its defence features, the assumption is that it was here that the part of the court with the chapel and outbuildings was first built.

            On the right (west) bank, in Dvori, three buildings were erected: the Lower Palace, Upper Palace and Annex to the Upper Palace, together with outbuildings – farm buildings and artisans’ workshops.  This part of the court complex was built on very unsuitable terrain, so that it appears that at some point the growing needs of the court led to its extension to the right bank of the Urva.

            The total surface area of the royal court is approx. 1490 sq.m.

Buildings in Grgurevo

            The Eastern Palace stands on the south and south-eastern part of Grgurevo.  It consisted of two parts, adjusted to the difficult terrain.  The east and west wings of the palace meet at an angle of 130°.   The upper walls are 25+15 m long on the inner side and the lower about 50 m long.  The lower walls are underpinned by buttresses measuring 2.5 x 2.5 m, narrowing gradually on the outside in the direction of the building.    The width of the inner area of the palace ranges from 8 to 12 m.  Two buttresses stood beneath the west wing.  The rest of the west wing was built to the width of the buttresses, probably so as to join a wooden platform, stairway and entrance gallery into the palace.

            Archaeological investigations have revealed that the upper floor was of wooden construction.  Parts of a clay wall mass where the hearth on the upper floor stood were also found (Anđelić, 1972, 163-165).

            Limestone was mainly used to build the palace.  Some carefully dressed stone blocks confirm the existence of architectural décor, but it is not possible to say exactly what it looked like or what its stylistic features were.  The good strategic location of the Grgurevo hillside as regards the Sutjeska settlement and the logic of development of the court indicate that the eastern palace was the oldest building in the Sutjeska court complex.

            To the south west of the palace was the court chapel.  An archaeological stratum of a depth of 0.50 to 1.50 m was excavated between the chapel and the palace, in which a large quantity of animal bones, pottery shards, pieces of glass and pieces of iron used in building, along with one whole and one broken spur, were found.  Probably, as in Bobovac, this “blind” area was a rubbish dump where litter from the guard post at the extreme south-western corner of the palace was thrown.

            The Court Chapel of St Gregory the Miracleworker was built on a steep, narrow site between the market square below and the eastern palace above.  The area was underpinned by a stone retaining wall 250 cm thick which also held up the southern part of the church.  The front façade of the church faced the Urva brook, i.e. west.  The ground plan of the chapel consisted of a nave and a rectangular elongated apse.  Relatively large, roughly dressed local limestone was used to build it.  All the same, care was broadly taken to ensure that the stone facing was laid horizontally.  The interior of the walls was filled with stone rubble and rich mortar containing large quantities of lime and coarse river sand.  Cut mudstone was used for the quoins, window jambs, surround and cornice of the niche in the north wall of the apse.  The large quantities of tuff excavated on the site of the apse indicate that it was vaulted.  The thickness of the walls, 100-105 cm, is typical of the monumental architecture of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.   The chapel was built in at least two stages or seasons: in the first, the walls were erected to a height of 80 cm, and then on a layer of ordinary mortar another layer 1-3 cm thick was laid of so-called hydraulic mortar, reddish-brown in colour, made with the addition of finely crushed or ground brick.  This was to conserve the structure of the walls.  It appears that the interior of the chapel was plastered, but the few fragments of mortar with traces of red and blue paint indicate that there was little decoration; it cannot be said that the interior of the chapel was decorated with wall paintings.

            The chapel had a wooden roof structure and a wooden ceiling over the nave.

            The floor was laid on the roughly levelled stony ground spread with a layer 5 to 15cm thick of gravel with lime mortar over.  On this was laid a wooden floor the ends of which were plastered with fine plaster.  The level of the floor in the nave was 15 cm below that of the apse.

            Traces were found of a window 80 cm wide set at a height of 240 cm.  Details of gothic decoration are visible on the fragments of the window lintel.  Based on these remains it is assumed that there were windows in the south and north walls of the nave as well as in the east wall of the apse, and that they were glazed with glass of various colours.

            A rectangular niche (110 cm high, 60 cm wide and 25 cm deep) in the north wall of the apse held the statue of a saint.  The edges of the niche were faced with carefully dressed blocks of mudstone.  Below the niche, at a height of 40 cm above floor level, was a round aperture 50 cm wide and 25 cm deep into which a wooden beam was fitted, the purpose of which is not clear.

            Signs of a niche were found in the south wall of the nave, too, above a stone structure, which was probably used as the base for a sarcophagus (Anðeliæ 1972, 170).  No tombs were found in the chapel.

            Stylistically, the chapel is a gothic church with a rectangular apse.  The sepulchral chapel in Bobovac and the church of St Rocco in Bakiæi near Olovo are very similar to this church.

            Among the more important archaeological finds are fragments of building brick, parts of moulded gothic window jambs, fragments of dark grey pottery and window glass, a stonemason’s axe, a chisel and an elliptical glass medallion with the engraved figure of a marsh bird.

Buildings in Dvori

            Only minor remains survive of the Lower Palace.   The local road to the village of Treševo ran through it.  The palace and the entire western complex of the court was approached from Sutjeska by an embankmented road that was roughly cobbled and set with lime mortar for a distance of 10 m.

            The palace is an elongated rectangular structure measuring 28 x 8 m.  It had two storeys: a ground floor, the western, upper end of which was set into the steep terrain for its entire height of about 3 m, and an upper floor.  The nature of the terrain meant that the entrance to the building had to be at the side, on the south-west.  Here a basal stone slab, the base for a wooden pillar and the remains of a wooden structure, damaged by fire, were found, based on which it may be confidently concluded that the entrance to the upper floor was via a wooden staircase and gallery.  Beneath the gallery was a smithy.  River stone (pebbles) were largely used for building, taken from the bed of the river Trstionica.  All the interior partition walls, as well as the structure and floors of the upper floor, were of wood.  A few moulded fragments of cut mudstone indicate that there was stone decoration within the building.  Fragments of brick, dark grey pottery and a few examples of iron nails were found in the rubble.  An iron arrow head was found in the upper stratum.

            In the forecourt of the palace, with an area of 5 x 5 m, a layer 1 m thick consisted of a mixture of lye, soot, animal bones, slag, various iron items, fragments of pottery and a great many pieces of glass, including some very valuable pieces with ornamental motifs of various manufacture and origin.

            The Upper Palace was also an elongated rectangular building, measuring 48 x 8 m. The upper wall abuts against the terrain, and the lower is buttressed by six 2 x 2 m. buttresses.  The walls are 1 m thick, and the foundations 2.5 m.  Some parts of the upper and side walls have survived to a height of 3 m.  The building had a ground and an upper floor.  The wooden roof structure and wooden partition wall dividing the building in the middle rested on wooden pillars the bases of which are to be seen in various places.  The large quantities of soot in the centre of the upper floor of the building indicate that there was a hearth there.

            Several dozen fragments of mudstone with gothic moulding that belong to the upper front façade were found in the ruins.  Other significant archaeological finds were fragments of pottery, glass and iron.  Of particular interest were two ball-shaped iron bowls.  

The Annex to the Upper Palace, measuring 15 x 6m, is attached to the upper palace at one corner only.  Structurally, the building is similar to the other buildings of the court, but it is in fact a separate building.  The interior west corner of the building is made of cut tuff.  The floor consists of a layer of cobbles set in lime morter, packed clay and a separate top-coating.  The upper floor structure was made using the post-and-pan technique.  There is also an interesting drainage channel to carry away surplus water from the walls of the upper palace, set at the corner where the palace joins the annex.

During excavations fragments of cut mudstone, brick, pottery, glass and iron nails were found.

Ancillary and farm buildings:  Above the upper palace, on levelled ground, was a layer 2 to 4 m thick covering an area of about 1000 sq.m., which has been excavated with probes only.   It has been established that there were no solid stone built buildings here, and the finds suggest that wooden farm buildings stood on this site.


3. Legal status to date

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 05-359-1/66 of 12 March 1966 in Sarajevo, the site of Dvori in Kraljeva Sutjeska was place under the protection of the state and entered in the register of immovable cultural monuments as no. 437.

 The historic site of the ruling court in Kraljeva Sutjeska is on the Provisional List of National Monuments under the name Royal Palace, Complex”, under serial no. 291.

In the Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 it is registered as a Category II monument.


4.Research and conservation and restoration works 

Between 1964 and 1971, systematic archaeological excavations were carried out under Dr Pavo Anđelić of the National Museum, as part of a wider project of archaeological excavations of mediaeval towns and forts in BiH.  The excavations proceeded as follows:

·         1964 – probes in part of Dvori, in the lower and upper palaces and the area between the palaces

·         1967 – works continued on the excavation of the upper palace and test probes were completed above  Dvori

·         1968 – the interior of the palaces in Dvori and the court chapel in Grgurevo were excavated

·         1969 – excavations were completed in the upper and lower palaces, the interior of the annex to the upper palace was excavated, and the contours of the eastern palace were uncovered

·         1970 – the remains of the eastern palace were investigated along with the area between the chapel and the eastern palace

            In 1977, under the supervision of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH, conservation of the walls of the three palaces was carried out: the complete conservation of the remains of the eastern palace and the remains of the church in Grgurevo and of the lower palace, and the part conservation of the upper palace, i.e. the south-western corner, in Dvori.  The conservator was Aleksandar Ninković.


 5. Current state of the property

      An on-site inspection in August 2003 ascertained the following:

The site of Grgurevo (east bank of the Urva), as part of the land of the Franciscan monastery, is arranged as an archaeological park and is maintained.

           The site of Dvori on the west bank of the Urva was state owned in the 1880s.  As time passed, the locations on Dvori came into private ownership by usurpation (Anðeliæ, 1972, 160).

           The mediaeval access road to the palaces in Dvori has almost disappeared with the extension of the concrete terrace of a house by the road on the east side.  Until recently this was a single-storey building.  Across the road, on a private plot by the road to the west, a new two-storey house has been built. The construction of this house and some smaller buildings outside Dvori has spoiled the appearance of the site, and particularly of the hillside on which the palaces stand.

           The plot on which the palaces in Dvori stand is socially owned, but is used in part by private persons.  There is no access to the site of the upper palace because it has been fenced off with wicker fencing.  An orchard has been planted on it.  The grass growing within both palaces is kept mown.  The conserved walls of the palaces are in good condition.




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

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

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

G. Authenticity

H. Rarity and representativity

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

I. Completeness

I.iii. completeness


            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 monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:



Anđelić, P., Bobovac i Kraljeva Sutjeska, stolna mjesta bosanskih vladara u XIV i XV stoljeću. (Bobovac and Kraljeva Sutjeska, courts of the Bosnian rulers in the 14th and 15th C.) Sarajevo, 1973, 151-264.


Fisković, Cvito, Prvi poznati dubrovački graditelji (The first known builders of  Dubrovnik) Dubrovnik, 1955.


Šabanović, Hazim, Bosanski pašaluk. (The Bosnian pashaluk) Sarajevo, 1954.





Rulers’ court in Kraljeva Sutjeska, reconstruction (P.Anđelić)The map of the archeological remains of the Rulers’ court in Kraljeva Sutjeska  Remains of the upper and lower palace at the CourtRemains of the upper palace, north wall
Upper palace, plan and the facade of the remains of the wallsPlan and the facade of the remains of the The Court Chapel of St Gregory Remains of the Court chapel and Eastern palace (above)Remain and reconstruction of the frame of the Gothic window
Archeological findings, ceramics Archeological findings, ceramics Archeological findings, glassArcheological findings, metal
Archeological findings   

BiH jezici 
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