Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Old fort of Ljubuški, 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 7 to 11 October 2003 the Commission adopted a






           The architectural ensemble of the old fort of Ljubuški in Ljubuški is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot.2668 (71/102 old survey), 2669 (71/34 old survey), cadastral municipality Ljubuški, Ljubuški Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The National Monument consists of the old fort of Ljubuški, the mosque and the “Hasan u docima” burial ground.
            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 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 the area specified in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision. In this Zone the following measures shall apply:

·         only works of research, conservation and restoration works, including those intended to display the monument, shall be permitted, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

·         all construction, felling of timber, or works that could have the effect of altering the site are prohibited, as are the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not intended solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument,

·         all damage to the ruins and the removal of cut stone are prohibited

·         the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited

The site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public,

The site may be used for educational and cultural purposes.


            The enforcement of the following measures in particular is required:

Old fort of Ljubuški:

·         clearing the walls of vegetation posing a threat to the structure of the monument

·         conservation of the existing state of the ramparts and towers of the old fort

·         structural repairs and consolidation of damaged walls, merlons of the towers and ramparts

·         all fallen stone fragments of the walls shall be registered, photographed and restored to their original positions

·         fragments that are too badly damaged to be reintegrated shall be displayed in appropriate manner within the architectural ensemble.

Mosque and burial ground:

·         clear the interior of the mosque building

·         conservation of the existing condition of the walls

·         repair the nišan tombstones in the burial ground


Protection Zone II comprises the surrounding plots nos. 2670, 2671, 2639 to a distance of 100 from Protection Zone I.  In this zone the following measures shall apply:

·         the renovation of residential buildings that existed prior to 1992 and the construction of new ones 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 of any kind detrimental to the natural environment or the architectural ensemble, the removal of the ruins of stone buildings, the dumping of waste, and the erection of temporary or permanent structures that block the view of the National Monument are prohibited.




            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 V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




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




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




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


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


Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No: 06-6-976/03-2                                                      

8 October 2003



                                         E l u c i d a t i o n



            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

           At a session held on 1 to 2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the architectural ensemble of the old fort of Ljubuški, Ljubuški, Ljubuški Municipality, to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 358.

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.


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


1. Information on the property


The Ljubuški fort stands on a prominent hilltop of the karst chain of hills of Buturovice, in the eastern part of the Ljubuški plain.  The fort was built on a solid karst site at an altitude of 396 m.  Since the 1992-1995 war a macadam road has been laid almost to the base of the fort.

Historical information

·         The earliest reference to the site in historical documents dates from 1444 with reference to the settlement around the Ljubuški and the local church there, though it does not say to whom the church was dedicated.  In 1444 Gojislav Orlović, known as Petanović, bequeathed part of his money for the church in Ljubuški (22 Feb [Nov?] 1444).  That same year Radojko Dobrovoević gave six hyperpers (solidus) to the church in Ljubuški for a mass of St George (Kovačević-Kojić 1978, 115; Tošić, 1987, 31,  n. 177, 249, n. 125).

·         In the fifteenth century salt was set aside by the Drijeva customs for the use of the Franciscans of Ljubuški and elsewhere (Tošić, 1987, 197, 204, n.50). 

·         In 1452 appears the first reference to the old fort of Ljubuški in connection with battles between Duke Stjepan and his sons Princes Vladislav and Vlatko.  The construction of the fort is linked with Duke Stjepan Vukčić Kosača.  That same year Prince Vladislav went over to the Republic of Dubrovnik in the war against his father.   Duke Stjepan took refuge in the fortress in Ljubuški.  Vladislav tried to seize the fort of Ljubuški from his father, but failed to take it.  That same year, too, King Tomaš was active in the Ljubuški region.  Vlatko Hercegović held it until 1463 (Ćirković, 1964, 176, 182).

·         In 1454 it is referred to in a charter of King Alfonzo V of Aragon as civitas Lublano.  It is curious that it is not mentioned in the charters of 1444 and 1448, given that these three charters give an inventory of properties within the Duke’s territory; the assumption therefore is that it was built at around this time, although it is not impossible that it dates from 1452 or earlier (Dinić, 1978,  248; Vego 1957, 71).

·         In 1463 Ljubuški was taken for the first time by the Ottomans, who held it for only a month (June-July), having to withdraw because of shortages of supplies for the troops.  As a result, Prince Vlatko rapidly regained control of the fort.

·         Between 1468 and 1477 the Ottomans finally conquered Ljubuški.  By 1477 it was already a frontier fortress with a strong garrison.  Some members of the garrison held the villages that the Drina qadi had previously held, including the village of Ljubuški, which must have been the settlement dating from the mediaeval period.

·         In 1477 the fort of Ljubuški is referred to in the defter of the Herzegovina sancak for 1475-1477.   According to this inventory, the nahiye of Ljubuški belonged to the Drina kadılık at that time (Tošić, 1987, 178; Šabanović, 1982, 46, 160).

·         In 1503 Ljubuški is mentioned in a treaty between Turkey and Hungary as one of the frontier forts that was to remain under Ottoman rule (Pašalić, 1982, 93). 

·         In the vakufnama (deed of endowment) of Nesuhaga Vučjaković, drawn up in February 1565, the fort is referred to as a k'ala (Ar. qal’a, fortress).  Nesuhaga built a mosque within the fort.

·         In 1633 Ljubuški is referred to as an independent kadılık.  Previously it had belonged to the territory of the Ljubuški kadılık of Gabela.  From 1717, when the Ottomans lost part of the territory of the Imota kadılık, the kadılık of Imotska Bekija was formed from the remainder, with Ljubuški as its seat.

·         In the eighteenth century there was a Ljubuški nahiye in the kadılık of the same name, and a captaincy of the same name was also established.

·         In 1767 craftsmen from Mostar carried out repairs to the fortress.

·         The fortress was abandoned in 1835 (Kapidžić-Kreševljaković, 1954, 13).


Description of the property

            The fort consists of two parts.  The first fortifications date from the time of the mediaeval Bosnian state – according to historical sources, from the mid fifteenth century.  These were erected on the highest and most prominent elevantion. During the Ottoman period it was surrounded by walls all round.  The entire defence system and spatial arrangement of the fortress is extremely well conceived.

            Within the walls the remains of various structures can be seen: guard rooms, barns or granaries, a bakery, a powder magazine, and four cisterns, of which three are still recognizable on the ground (Kapidžić-Kreševljaković, 1954, 13).

            The mediaeval fort consists of a massive projecting tower known as the Herceguša (1) and the bailey outside the tower (2). The Herceguša tower, which dominates the fort, is rectangular in form, with internal dimensions of 5.2 x 2.1 m and external of 9.7 x 5 m.  The walls are thick – 4.5 m to the north, the side facing the access to the fort, and 2 m to the side, east and west walls.  The tower was formerly topped by embrasures which no longer exist (Kapidžić-Kreševljaković plan, 1954, 13).   The north wall of the tower has survived to the roof cornice, to a height of about 15m.  The side walls are in a fairly ruinous state, and the southern longitudinal wall was destroyed by earthquake in the 1960s, according to local people.  Alongside the eastern half of the south wall of the tower are steps linking it the east wall of the bailey.  The steps that led to the tower are buried under the mass of masonry that fell from the south wall of the tower during the earthquake. On the three free sides around the tower is a large, deep layer, about 3 m, of fallen matter.  To the south of the tower is a bailey measuring 20 x 10.15 m. The entrance to the bailey, which is 1.3 m wide, is in the south wall, which is partly ruinous (3). The long walls of the bailey are 1.6 to 2m thick, and have survived in parts to a height of from 6 to 10 m from the outside and 3 to 4 m from the inside.

            The strongest wall of the Herceguša tower faces the north-west, where access to the fort was easiest (and where later, in the fifteenth-sixteenth century, the entrance to the fort was built), and from where the area was defended.

The settlement associated with the mediaeval fort probably developed on the Crkvica terrace beneath the southern part of the fort.  Later a town developed in the valley to the west of the fort6.

The Ottoman part of the fort was built around the mediaeval fortress, which now became the centre of a major fortress, like an acropolis, surrounded on all sides by walls.  The perimeter walls were built between 1472 and 1565.  The final form of the fortifications is an irregular polygon, extending north-south for a length of about 93 m.  The average width of the fortifications east-west is about 49.5 m, and the total area of the fort is some 3,350 sq.m.

The fort consists of several parts.  In the northern part is the entrance area and the large lower bailey with a bastion. To the south is the upper bailey, surrounded by a wall.  Between them is the complex of the mediaeval fort, protected by one of the partition walls, and separating this complex to the east from the lower bailey.  The central defence point of the fort remained this central part, snce to the south-east of this two massive east-facing towers were built, also dominating the fort (4,5).  The western perimeter rampart extends for the most part by a gentle line on inaccessible karst terrain, other that in the extreme northern area around the entrance.

The fortress walls have survived in some places to a height of from 4 to 12 m.  All the perimeter walls had embrasures, of which many have survived.

The easiest access to the fort is from the north, which is the lowest part of the fort.  The fort was entered from the north-west.  There was some kind of system of walls outside the entrance, which no longer exists, but is marked on the architectural plans made some time in the 1960s (6).  Part of the access to the fort was cobbled, probably within a system of barbicans outside the entrance.  The fort is now entered from the exterior through the former inner entrance (7).  From the exterior the entrance is a standard rectangular opening, but on the inside it is arched.  In the area by the entrance, inside the north-western part, are two defence towers (8,9) and a cistern with internal dimensions of 5.1 x 3.7 m (10).  The entrance to the central western part of the fort was alongside this cistern (11).  There were some premises alongside the partition wall, but it is hard now to ascertain what they were used for.

The north-eastern part of the fort is taken up by a large bailey (15) with a bastion (16).  There were walkways (17,18) in the central area between the mediaeval part of the fort and the northern and southern baileys.

The southern, upper bailey is built on the rock.  Its north-eastern part (19/1) with two massive towers (4,5) forms part of the eastern defence zone system.  Since the entire eastern side is more accessible than the western karst side, much more attention was paid to it when the defence system was built.  The rectangular tower (4) has a small interior space with thick walls, 1.9 to 2.7 m.  The round tower (5) has a diameter of 3.7 m, with a thick exterior wall underpinned on the outside by a strong earthwork.  Beneath this tower, in the south-eastern part of the bailey, is a building the purpose of which is not known (20).   There were two cisterns here beside each other, of which the larger, measuring 2.7 x 1.9 m (21), is still recognizable.  The southern end part of the bailey is a simple rectangular space with reinforced walls in the southern half from the inside (19/2). 

About 250 m north-west of the entrance to the fort, on plot 2669, are the ruins of the mosque that was probably built by Nesuhaga Vučjaković in the mid sixteenth century.  The mosque has a rectangular ground plan, with the longer sides measuring 7 m, and walls surviving to a height of about 4.5 m.  The exterior face of the walls is revetted with well cut blocks, carefully laid in horizontal courses.  Three walls have survived to beneath the roof, but the north-west wall has collapsed.  This was probably where the original entrance to the mosque was (opposite the mihrab).  Outside the entrance was a portico measuring 7 c 3 m, on a stone platform surrounded by a dry stone wall.  The minaret, which has collapsed completely, was alongside the sofa at the western corner, i.e. the corner of the south-west and north-west walls.  The remains of the stone from the minaret are scattered around the mosque.  Its size is not known.

One entrance to the mosque is in the southern half of the north-eastern wall.  To the north of this, on the upper level, is an arched window. The mihrab, in the form of a simple rectangular level surface about 2 m high and 1.5 m wide, framed with a simple moulded frame, is in the centre of the south-eastern wall.  It was faced with thin slabs, finely worked and laid in rows.  To the north of this, at the upper level, was an arched window.  To the south of the mihrab, at the lower level, another aperture has been made through which one may enter the mosque.

            There are two windows in the centre of the south-west wall, one above the other, with traces of arches.

            Somewhat closer to the northern ramparts of the old fort, on the same plot, are the faint remains of a burial ground, consisting of a few tilted, broken or sprawling nišan tombstones.  The mosque and burial ground have not been in use since ???


3. Legal status to date

By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SRBiH, no. 188/51 dated 7 November 1951, the old fort of Ljubuški was placed under the protection of the state.  By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 02-679-3 dated 18 April 1962 it was entered in the Register of immoval cultural monuments as no. 252.

The architectural ensemble of the old fort of Ljubuški is on the Provisional List  of National Monuments as “Fortress”, under serial no. 358.

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


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works 

Apart from reconnaissance and a bare description, with a survey of the ground plan of the fort, no works have been carried out.  The ground plan was drawn by architect Ferhat Mulabegović of the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH.


5.  Current condition of the property

            Information dating from 1932 recounts that the fort was already in a somewhat ruinous state.

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

The fort is in a ruinous state.  The damaged caused by the earthquake of the 1960s is plain to see (entire blocks of the walls of the towers, up to 1.5 m, have collapsed).  In many places cracks are visible in the walls as a result of tectonic shifts.  The merlons of the towers and ramparts, their outer corners, and the revetments of the walls are crumbling. In many places wide gaps can be seen the full height of the walls.  In some places there are considerable mounds of fallen stone up against the walls.

The mosque is in ruins and the burial ground is completely laid waste.

Much of the site is covered by vegetation.



 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

D. Clarity

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

E. Symbolic value

            E.iii. traditional value

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

            F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

G. Authenticity

            G.v. location and setting

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:


Ćirković, Simo, Herceg Stefan Vukčić Kosača i njegovo doba (Duke Stefan Vukčić  Kosača and his times) Serbian Literary Cooperative, Belgrade, 1964

Dinić Mihajlo, Zemlje hercega Sv. Save (Lands of Duke St Sava) in Srpske zemlje u srednjem veku (Serb lands in the middle ages), Belgrade, 1978, 178-269

Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka, Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države (Urban settlements of the mediaeval  Bosnian state), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1978.

Kreševljaković, Hamdija and Kapidžić, Hamdija, Stari hercegovački gradovi (Old forts of Herzegovina),  Naše starine II, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of RBiH, Sarajevo, 1954, 9-21

Šabanović, Hazim, Bosanski pašaluk, postanak i upravna podjela (Bosnian pashaluk, genesis and administrative division), Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1982

Tošić, Đuro, Trg Drijeva u srednjem vijeku (Drijeva market in the middle ages), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1987

Vego, Marko, Naselja bosanske srednjovjekovne države (Settlements of the mediaeval  Bosnian state), Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1957






Old Ljubuški fortNorth part of the fortEntrance part of the fort in the northwest wall Entrance part in the interior of the fort
Herceguša tower, the oldest part of the fort built in the middle of XV century during the rule of Herceg StjepanObjects near Herceguša tower in the central part of the fort Remain of the wall of Herceguša towerTower from Ottoman period
Bailey outside the tower Herceguša with external perimeter wall of the fortLarge bailey with a tabija and openings for artillery from Ottoman period  

BiH jezici 
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