Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Mosque in Kotezi (the Mujo Kotezlija mosque in Kotezi), 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 mosque in Kotezi (the Mujo Kotezlija Mosque in Kotezi), is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 510  cadastrral municipiality Kotezi, Trebinje Municipality, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the remains of the mosque and minaret, maktab, two cistern-wells and the harem alongside the mosque, including the surrounding wall.

            The provisions relating to protective and safety 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.




            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.

            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 consists of the site defined in Clause 1 para. 2  of this Decision.   In this zone the following measures shall be implemented:

            1. As part of the rehabilitation of the National Monuments, conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, shall be permitted with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska,


            2. To preserve the monument from further deterioration, the following measures are hereby stipulated:

§         clearing the wall structures of the mosque and minaret and the surrounding harem of self-sown/wild vegetation

§         survey and structural analysis of the walls and other parts  of the buildings

§         removal of those structures which the said survey reveals beyond doubt to be at risk of collapse

§         recording, conservation and display in appropriate fashion within the architectural ensemble of the structures that have been removed

§         conservation and repair of the walls and other structures of the buildings

§         provide the walls with protection from the damaging effects of the elements

§         survey and landscape the harem and repair damaged nišan tombstones.


            3. As part of the rehabilitation of the National Monument, and with the aim of restoring its original use, the reconstruction of missing elements shall be permitted in their original form, of the original size, using the same or same type of material and the same techniques wherever possible, based on documentation on its original form.

            Missing elements for which there is no reliable documentation shall be dealt with as part of the rehabilitation project so as to ensure that their interpolation is clearly recognizable.

            The walls shall be structurally consolidated based on the prior survey and structural analysis.

            Fragments of the mosque, minaret and maktab remaining following the demolition of the building or taken down because of the risk of collapse in earlier stages of protection from further deterioration shall be recorded, conserved and rebuilt into the building.


            4. The purpose for which the protected site was used may not be altered.  The site of the National Monument may be open and accessible to the public for use for educational and cultural purposes subject to the prior agreement of the owner of the National Monument.


            5. In this zone all new construction or works that could endanger the National Monument are prohibited, as is the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not intended solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument.

§         The demolition of the ruins is prohibited

§         The dumping of waste of all kinds is prohibited.



            Protection Zone II comprises c.p. nos.. 463, 464, 465, 469, 470, 471, 472, 483, 484, 485, 486, 506, 507, 508,  511, 512, 513, 514, 516, 517, and c.p. nos. 466, 467, 468 c.m. Kotezi.

            In Protection Zone II In Zone II the rehabilitation and adaptation of existing buildings shall be permitted and the interpolation of new residential buildings shall be allowed, subject to respecting the conditions of a maximum height of two storeys in the original form of the buildings using original materials and roof cladding (stone walls, with the pointing visible on the facades, stone slabs as roof cladding, gable roofs, wooden roof frames, roof pitch of 30o,  all windows and doors on the façade to be of unpainted wood).

            By way of exception to the above provisions, no new construction is permitted on c.p. nos. 466, 467 and 468 c.m. Kotezi.




            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 Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in 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, III and IV 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: 07-6-104/03-3

7 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  (hereinafter: Annex 8) 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.

            The Commission received a petition from the Centre for Islamic Architecture, Sarajevo, on 23 January 2003.

            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 land registry entry no. 333, Trebinje Municipality, c.m. Kotezi, 2 September 2003, and copy of cadastral plan issued by Geodetic and Property Rights Institute, Regional Centre Trebinje, Republika Srpska, 2 September 2003)

§         Current condition of the property

§         Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs,

§         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 Mujo Kotezlija mosque is in the centre of the village of Kotezi, on a steep slope of Lipnica hill, to the right of  the Ljubinje-Trebinje road, about 2 km north-east of Popovo polje.

            The National Monument consists of the site designated as c.p. no. 510, c.m. Kotezi, Trebinje Municipality, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Historical information

            The presence of a late mediaeval stećak necropolis in Kotezi (Archaeological Lexicon of BiH Vol 3, 1988, p. 184) indicates the age of the village.  Throughout the Ottoman period, from the formation of the Ljubinje kadılık in the late sixteenth century, Kotezi was part of this and the Trebinje kadılık.  A surviving document records that in 1076 AH (1665 CE) there lived in Kotezi a craftsman named Jusuf Durak, a slipper-maker, and one Osman.  In 1180 AH (1766 CE) there is reference in the village to Ismail Šerak and his cousin Ahmed, Ahmed son of Zulfikar, and Ferhat, son of Ahmed.  In 1880 twelve Muslim families were living in Kotezi, the same number as just before the start of  World War II in 1941 (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 285; Gazi Husrev beg Library, document no. 157; Vuletić-Vukasović: 1881, p. 36; Nametak: 1940, p. 120).

            During the Ottoman period, a mosque, maktab, two wells, three towers and several manor houses and other residential buildings were erected  in Kotezi. None of these has survived intact, but the remains of some buildings or parts of buildings can be seen (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 285).

            According to local tradition, this is the oldest mosque in southern Herzegovina.  The oral tradition is that it was built by Mujo Kotezlija, who, following the conquest of Herzegovina by the Ottomans, distributed land as erazi-emirija[1] in Popovo polje to the inhabitants in the Sultan's name, and built a mosque in Kotezi from the fees.  Behind the mosque, close to the mihrab wall, is a grave surrounded by stone slabs, with a nišan tombstone bare of any epitaph, no taller than half an aršin (ell), in which, according to oral tradition, Mujo Kotezlija, founder of the mosque and of the maktab built alongside the mosque, is buried.  The workmanship of the nišan tombstone perhaps testifies to the modesty of this vakif.  The village of Kotezi had the most significant vakuf in the Ljubinje kotar (district): two wells from which water was sold in summer, and two or three harems the size of medium-sized threshing floors, from which grass was sold, yielding about 400 dinars annual revenue (Nametak: 1940, p. 120; Hasandedić: 1990, p. 286 ).

            The nearby villages of Miljanovići, Mišljen, Obzir, Oraje, Ravno and Vojevići gravitated to this mosque.  It is said that on Fridays and Bajram (Eid) days sixty horsemen used to come to the mosque (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 287).

            During the insurrection in Herzegovina in 1875-1878, the mosque was badly damaged and the roof was destroyed (Vuletić-Vukasović: 1881, p. 36).  A photograph dating from before World War II (Nametak: 1940, illus. p. 120) shows that the mosque had been repaired and re-roofed.  It may be deduced from an article describing the travels of Reis-ul Ulema Fehim ef. Spaho through Herzegovina and his visit to Kotezi that the mosque was in use (Journal of the Islamic Religious Community no. 7, Put Njegove Preuzvišenosti Reis-ul-uleme u Hercegovinu i Crnu Goru (Journey of HE Reis ul Ulema to Herzegovina and Montenegro) 1939, p. 288).  The mosque was damaged in 1942, when the roof was removed, and the maktab building, which included an apartment for the muallim, was also demolished.  From 1912 to 1942 the duties of imam were performed in the mosque by Mehmed ef. Merzić, Ali ef. Zlomužica, Husein ef. Miljanović, Mahmutović and Salihović  (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 287).             


2. Description of the property



            The mosque in Kotezi has a central prayer space, an entrance area with sofas, a hipped roof and a cylindrical stone minaret, a type rarely seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In addition to the mosque in Kotezi, the mosques of Donje Čičevo near Trebinje and the old mosque in Dobrun near Višegrad also had cylindrical minarets.  The old mosque in Kiseljak had a cylindrical minaret prior to twentieth-century interventions, while in some cases the original form of the minaret was later replaced by a cylindrical one – those in Lizoperci near Prozor, the Inat mosque in Sopot near Kula in Gacko).

            The interior of the mosque had a hipped roof, with the north-eastern side extended to cover the enclosed entrance portico with sofas. The building has a rectangular ground plan with external dimensions of approx. 7.70 x 10.10 metres, built of cut limestone in lime mortar.  The walls are about 65 cm thick, and the quoins are of larger interlocking ashlar blocks.

            Originally, the mosque was clad with stone slabs over a hipped wooden roof frame.   The eaves had no gutters.

            The layout of the building consists of the enclosed entrance area of the sofas (with the entrance to the prayer space to the north-west) measuring 6.25 x 2.65 metres, with two sofas, the left measuring 2.10 x 2.65 and the right 2.77 x 2.65; and a rectangular central prayer space measuring approx. 6.25 x 5.50 m).

            The height of the wall, as measured in the central prayer space, is approx. 3,90 metres from the floor to the crown of the wall.

            To the right of the entrance to the mosque a stone minaret was built in the form of a hollow cylinder, “which in architecture is unlike anything else in our part of the world” (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 285).   The base of the minaret is built of quarry stone in the form of a truncated cone about 3.30 m high measured from the lower, south-eastern side, with the base of the cone measured at the bottom of the lower, south-eastern side) about 3.80 m.  The cylindral barrel of the minaret is about 5.20 m. high measured from the base to the base of the dome.  The top of the mosque is of stone executed in the form of a dome the base of which has a diameter of about 2.20 m.  The overall height of the mosque, measured on the upper, north-western side, is about 8.30 m, or 9.50 m. measured from the lower, south-eastern side (the mosque is built on steep ground).  The barrel of the mosque is of quarry limestone. The exterior diameter is approx. 2.50  and the inner about 1.50 m, with the walls about 50 cm thick. 

            An external stairway of quarry stone leads via eleven steps to the entrance to the minaret, which is set at the level of the top of the truncated cone of the base and terminates in a flat stone arch.  The platforms of the šerefe of the minaret were reached via fourteen curved stone steps in the minaret in the form of consols made of single pieces of stone wedged into the wall of the cylindral barrel of the minaret.  Near the top of the minaret four rectangular windows measuring about 50 x 80 cm were made.

            Two windows were set in the mihrab wall, with the aperture on the exterior approx 90 x 95 cm) at ground floor level in a horizontal row. Two windows approx. 75 x 90 cm and a door approx. 125 x 190 cm were set in the wall dividing the central prayer space from the entrance portico with sofas.  There were two windows approx 50 x 75 cm in the wall on the entrance façade together with the entrance door measuring approx 130 x 170 cm. In the south-west wall there was one window, approx. 50 x 55 cm, at the upper floor level, with its upper edge coinciding with the crown of the wall, and a dolaf-niche in the wall at ground floor level, measuring 65 x 85 cm with a depth of 35 cm.

            The windows have unmoulded stone frames forming a rectangular frame visible on the façade.  All the lower exterior windows had wrought iron bars.    

            The stone mihrab in the south-east wall of the mosque had a hemispherical hollow niche 93 cm wide and about 2.20 m high vaulted at the top.  The surround of the niche projects from the wall by about 15-20 cm and is 1.55 m wide and about 2.70 m. high.

            The mosque has a number of graves in the harem, to the north and north-east of the mosque building.  Also part of the mosque complex are two wells right by the north-east side of the mosque.

            To the south-west of the mosque building are the remains of the maktab building which also had an apartment for the muallim.  This building, with exterior dimensions of approx. 5 x 10 m, was built of dressed limestone.


3.  Legal status to date


            By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH no. 104/50 of 1950, the building was placed under state protection.       


4. Research and conservation and restoration works


            In 1954 the then National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH drew up a blueprint of the building and a project to reconstruct the mosque in Kotezi.


5. Current condition of the property


            The mosque and maktab building with its apartment for a muallim were badly damaged in 1942.  The roof of the mosque was removed and the maktab was pulled down, which led to progressive deterioration of the walls, floors, windows and doors, and of the interior generally.  The mosque and maktab have not been used since, there is no evidence of repairs, and they have not been maintained.

            The stone minaret of the mosque is in somewhat better condition, with the dome undamaged, so that it has suffered much less from the effects of the elements than have the mosque and maktab.

            Since it is a long time since these buildings were in use, the entire plot, including the interior of the mosque and maktab, is overgrown with self-sown vegetation, making it almost impossible to conduct a detailed survey of the condition of the building or of the nišan tombstones in the harem.    




            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.iii. proportions

                        C.iv. composition

                        C.vi. value of construction

            D.  Clarity

                        D.v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

            E.  Symbolic value

                        E.ii. religious value

                        E.iii. traditional value

                        E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

                        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 a group or site

            H. Rarity and representativity

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



            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



Bibliography :


-         Arheološki leksikon Bosne i Hercegovine (Archaeological Lexicon of BiH), Vol III, National Museum, Sarajevo, 1988

-         Gazi Husrev beg Library, document no. 157

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

-         Journal of the Islamic Religious Community no. 7, Put Njegove Preuzvišenosti Reis-ul-uleme u Hercegovinu i Crnu Goru (Journey of HE Reis ul Uelma to Herzegovina and Montenegro) 1939

-         Nametak, Alija, Islamski kulturni spomenici u Hercegovini I Crnoj Gori, (Islamic cultural monuments in Herzegovina and Montenegro) travel notes, Calendar for 1940, Narodna uzdanica, Sarajevo, 1940 (using the services of the Bosniac Institute library, Adil Zulfikarpašić  Foundation, in Sarajevo)

-         National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH, blueprint of building and project to reconstruct the mosque in Kotezi (Sprem. sign. 832), Sarajevo, 1954

Vuletić-Vukasović, Vid, Putne bilješke (Travel Notes), Mladi Hercegovac, Mostar, 1881

[1] erazi-mirija, abbreviated to erazija (from the Turkish erazi miri or erazi-i emiriyye, from Ar. aradi [land] and amiriryya [of the amir or ruler]), land holdings with particular rights regulated by an Erazi-kanun (law).  The right of supreme ownership of such holdings belonged to the state, with the holder having limited rights of use (Abdulah Škaljić, Turcizmi u srpskohrvatskom jeziku, (Turcisms in Serbo-Croatian) Svjetlost, Sarajevo 1989, p. 269)


Mosque in Kotezi (the Mujo Kotezlija mosque in Kotezi), photo before 1942Mekteb building and the mosque in KoteziMinaret of the Mosque in Kotezi, photo from 2003Interior of the minaret
Nišan tombstone, cistern and remains of the Mosque in Kotezi, photo from 2003   

BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: