Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Provisional List

About the Provisional List

List of Petitions for Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Heritage at Risk

60th session - Decisions

Mejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, the historic building

gallery back

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 historic building of the Mejtef ibtida'i mekteb in Stolac is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot II/26, cadastral municipality Stolac, Stolac Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The 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.




            The following measures shall be implemented:

§         all works on the National Monuments are prohibited other than conservation, structural repair, restoration and reconstruction works designed to restore the original use of the National Monument, 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 (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),


            To ensure the protection and enable the rehabilitation of the National Monument, two stages of works are hereby defined:


Stage I: urgent measures to protect the National Monument from further deterioration:

  1. clearing the building of rubble and debris
  2. survey and structural analysis of load-bearing structures of floors/ceilings and walls;
  3. repair and structural consolidation of floors/ceilings and walls;
  4. protect the building from the elements (cover holes in roof and close apertures)


Stage II – rehabilitation of the building – entails the following works:

  1. based on findings from survey and structural analysis, draw up a project for its reconstruction and restoration, and the restoration of the facades, based on available photographs and architectural blueprints of the condition of the building prior to its vandalization,
  2. all missing elements for which there is no reliable documentation shall be dealt with under the project in such a way as to ensure that their interpolation is plainly recognizable,
  3. the dumping of all kinds of waste is 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, 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: 07-6-492/03-1

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.

            On 21 October 2002 the Commission received a petition from the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Stolac for the ibtida'i mekteb building to be designated as a national monument.

            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 (Stolac Municipality did not supply a copy of the cadastral plan for the ibtida'i mekteb building, as a result of which the position of the building was determined on the basis of an on-site inspection and a copy of the cadastral plan for the Čaršija mosque in Stolac, attached)

§         Documentation on the current owner and occupant of the property (Stolac Municipality did not submit a copy of the Land Registry entry for the ibtida'i mekteb building, as a result of which the data for the cadastral plot and Land Registry entry no. have been taken from the petition)

§         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 ibtida'i mekteb building is in the very centre of Stolac in the immediate vicinity of the architectural ensemble of the Čaršija mosque and Čaršija in Stolac and the primary school building in Stolac.


Historical information

            «Information about education in Stolac in the nineteenth century, particularly during the Turkish period, is very limited and sketchy.  With the conquest of the region and the spread of Islam among part of the population, the Turkish state introduced a new spiritual influence, based on Islamic teachings.  The basis for the spread and consolidation of the new religion was knowledge of the fundamental elements of literacy, which in turn made it necessary to improve and expand the education system.  At the ssame time, given the composition of the population and the existence of other confessions, other schools of a confessional nature were also opened.» (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 60).

            At that time the starting point for the expansion of the education network among the Muslims was the sıbyan-mekteb(1) . By the end of the nineteenth century, Stolac had seven sıbyan-mektebs, ibtida’i mektebs, a ruždija (medresa/madrassa) and kiraethana or Muslim reading-room.  Sıbyan-mektebs were usually located alongside a mosque: the Čaršija mosque (Sultan Selim's mosque), Ćuprijska mosque (mosque of hajji Alija Hadžisalihović), the Uzunovićka mosque (mosque of Ismail-kapetan Šarić), with three mektebs in private houses: that of the Rizvanbegović's in the Begovina, of Jusuf Dervoz in Zagrad-mahala, and of Ibrahim-aga Šarić in the Čaršija (Poljarević: 1991, p. 193; Jaganjac: 1984, p. 60).   Further education after completing the sıbyan-mekteb was obtained in the medresas(2) and ruždijas(3).    The Austro-Hungarian authorities found the existing education system in a poor way, and by 1879 had already issued regulations on the organization of primary schools.  In 1880 a network of primary schools was opened, alongside which private and confessional schools continued to operate (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 62).

            As a result of the education reforms introduced by the Territorial Government, in 1894 a reformed mekteb, known as the ibtida'i mekteb, was opened by agreement with the Vakuf Commission in Sarajevo(4).  

            Mehmed ef. Šarić gave his own residence for the first ibtida'i mekteb in Stolac, and undertook to teach calligraphy (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 63).  From the information given in an article entitled Potreba vodovoda.-Rasvjeta.-Škole(5). , it can be concluded beyond any doubt that the first ibtida'i mekteb in Stolac was founded in 1894.

             «The publication Bošnjak gives an account of the examinations held in the Stolac ibtida'i mekteb in 1898.  The commission was satisfied with the pupils' results, for which much of the credit must go to the muallim evel Salih ef. Čelić.   In 1899 the same examinations were held in the presence of the shari'ah judge Vehni ef. Sikirić and the mayor, Muhamed ef. Šehić.   The examination and the pupils' knowledge were satisfactory to all those present.» (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 63).

            Four different design projects for the mekteb in Stolac were found in the Archives of Herzegovina in Mostar(6).    Comparing the existing ibtida'i mekteb building in Stolac in situ with the ground plans, cross-sections and facades shown in these designs, and checking the actual dimensions by measuring on site, it is clear that the ibtida'i mekteb in Stolac was built wholly according to the design Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, drawn up in April 1900 in Mostar and signed by civil engineer Max (Maximilian) David(7) .

            During the on-site inspection a photograph was noted of an inscription dated 10 March 1905, carved into the wooden tie beam of the roof structure.

            According to Mr. Amer Medar (chairman of the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Stolac), the ibtida'i mekteb continued to serve as a religious school until 1959.  In 1959-1960 it was taken over for the Federation of the Socialist National Board (SSNO) and became a National University.  In 1974 it was restored to the Islamic Community, which ceded it to the Primary School given the shortage of school premises; later it was made available to the Automobile Association.  In 1989/1990 the Islamic Community again gained possession of the property, and the temporary occupants vacated it.  The Islamic Community housed a library, reading room and tea room in the mekteb, and leased one room to the Party for Democratic Action, which used it as an office.  During the 1992-1995 war the building was badly damaged.


2. Description of the property


            The Austro-Hungarian period was characterized by intensive building, with the new authorities endeavouring to meet the needs of both the authorities themselves and the population. The cultural development of Bosnia and Herzegovina at that time did not lag behind other regions of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.  The eclectic style of architecture or architecture of historicism produced many excellent buildings in Bosnia and Herzegovina as regards the interpretation of European styles.  The electic method of formation of architectural expression in Bosnia created something entirely new, known as the oriental style with pseudo-Moorish expression.

            During the final decade of the nineteenth century the pseudo-Moorish expression became the second most widespread and significant in terms of projects implemented (Krzović: 1987, p. 26).  In Stolac this expression, in its modest, provincial form, was to be seen in the ibtida'i mekteb  building, in part in the details of the decoration of the window lintels which are «identical with details on the Arsa tekke(8)  in Sarajevo» (Poljarević: 1991, pp. 143, 215).   There are also elements of decorative graphic ornamentation in the treatment of the surfaces of the window parapets of the upper floor on the entrance facade.  On this facade the building is divided vertically by a moulded string course set longitudinally at the level of the inter-storey structure, in two parts, ground floor and first floor, with the wall surfaces of this facade further emphasized by horizontal bands of very shallow moulding, typical of almost every building in this eclectic manner.  Features of the manner are also to be seen in the use of mouldings around the windows, entrance door and upper edge of the parapet of the ground floor in the form of a meander cornice.

            The window apertures of the ground and upper floor, measuring approx. 100 x 200 cm, on the entrance facade, are set in five vertical axes, with the front door, measuring approx. 1,40 x 3,10 metres, in the central axis at ground floor level.

            The ground plan of the ibtida'i mekteb building is a rectangle measuring 10,80 x 15 m (the projection on the eastern, courtyard facade measures 1,30 x 5 metres).  The building has a ground and a first floor.

            The arrangement of the ground floor consists of a central corridor running the depth of the building, with an entrance area with a wind screen and a small hall with a three-flight wooden staircase.  To the left of the corridor is a spacious classroom measuring 5,50 x 9,80 metres, and to the right are offices and a toilet block.  On the upper floor, there are two large classrooms around the staircase, measuring 5,50 x 9,80 and 5 x 8 metres, and a smaller room measuring 3,50 x 4,30 metres.  The ground floor level is approximately 60 cm higher than ground level, and the height of the ceilings in both the ground and first floor is approx. 350 cm.

            The basic vertical structural elements are walls and arches, with stone used to build the walls, bricks for the chimney, and wood for the staircase and inter-floor structure.  Tectonic structures are used in the form of walls and level wooden ceilings, and stereotomic structures in the form of shallow stone archies (with radial stone segments to the arches) above the windows and in the corridors.  The interfloor structure consists of wooden beams with an average cross-section of 18 x 24 cm set about 100 cm apart, covered on the upper side by unplaned boards abutting against each other, a structure known as a «sub-floor», and on the under side by boards set about 2-3 cm apart and covered by plaster on a wattle base, above which is superimposed the structure of a wooden sub-floor (wooden flooring of ship's deck type set on wooden underflooring on a rubble base – which is the original structure known as a «floating floor»).  This inter-floor structure, which is extremely heavy when expressed in kg/sq.m., and the use of the «floating floor» structure, was intended by the designer to provide as effective sound insulation as possible for the classrooms, since the building was designed to be used as a school.

            The roof was hipped, with a classic wooden frame of double truss type (with two trusses) and four single half-trusses set beneath the ridge beam, and clad with grooved tiles.  The walls were of dressed stone, with the interior of the walls plastered and whitewashed.  The facades of the building were stuccoed and painted.

            The design shows that a septic tank was built behind the building on the south-east side.


3. Research and conservation and restoration works


            There is no information of any conservation or restoration works having been carried out.


4. Current condition of the property


            The building is in poor condition.  The roof cladding is badly damaged, resulting in the rapid continued deterioration of the building.  The roof structure is in fairly good condition, though parts need replacing.  The inter-floor structures and floors are almost completely in ruins.  Damp can be seen on the walls of the building, doubtless as a result of years of rain entering the building.  All the carpentry is wrecked, and the staircase is also in poor condition.  One of the exterior walls collapsed entirely as a result of bad weather (the north wall).  It was later rebuilt.  The basement is inaccessible because of collapsed walls.  The lower part of the roof cladding facing the street is badly damaged, there is no horizontal guttering on this side, and the eaves are badly damaged, which has resulted in serious damage to the entrance facade from the constant effects of precipitation.




            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.ii. evidence of historical change

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

            E. Symbolic value

                        E.iii. traditional value

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

            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.i. form and design

                        G.ii. material and content

                        G.v. location and setting


            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 historic monument of the ibtida'i mekteb in Stolac as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


-         Design projects for mektebs in Stolac, Archives of Herzegovina in Mostar, K/2, no.14

o        Project fur ein Mekteb in Stolac , February 1900, Stolac; signed M. David

o        Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, April 1900, Mostar; signed M. David

o        ... fur ein Mekteb in Stolac, 21.06.1900, Sarajevo;

o        ... Project fur ein Mektebgehaude in Stolac fur 200 kinder, 1894, Mostar


-         Hangi, Antun, Život i običaji Muslimana u Bosni i Hercegovini (Life and customs of the Muslims in BiH) / Antun Hangi ; [ed. Radmila Kajmaković]. – 3rd ed.. - Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1990

-         Jaganjac, Selam,  Pregled školstva u Stocu u 19. vijeku, (Overview of education in Stolac in the 19th c) pp.60-63, Slovo Gorčina 1984, Stolac

-         Krzović, Ibrahim,   Arhitektura Bosne i Hercegovine 1878. - 1918. (Architecture of  BiH 1878-1918), Art Gallery of BiH, Sarajevo, 1987

-         Poljarević, Ale,  Stolac, grad i arhitektura (Stolac, town and architecture), unpublished doctoral dissertation, Faculty of the Humanities, Zagreb, Chair of History of Art; Stolac, 1991

-         Potreba vodovoda.-Rasvjeta.-Škole (Need for mains water, lighting, schools), Bošnjak, 19 March 1896, no 12, Vol VI, p.2, Sarajevo




(1) Pupils were provided with the most basic form of religious instruction.  The curriculum did not include literacy in the mother tongue.  Pupils mainly learned the material by heart, and particular importance was accorded to religious rites, the passages from the Qur'an used in prayer, Islamic ethics etc.  These mektebs were not permanent, regular schools, «because pupils attended and left them at various ages.» (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 60). 

(2) The medresa, equivalent to a secondary school, provided pupils with the elements of religious and shari'ah law studies.  Secular studies were regarded as auxiliary disciplines.  Particular emphasis was laid in the curriculum on oriental languages, religious subjects and shari'ah law.  The textbooks used in the medresas were in Arabic or Turkish.  Medresas were usually built alongside a mosque, and their maintenance, together with the emoluments of the muderris/teacher, was secured by legacies from wealthy people (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 60).   

(3)These were classed as lower general-programme secondary schools, with a four-year curriculum, designed to produce civil servants, mainly junior clerks (Jaganjac: 1984, p. 61).  

(4) «...The more prominent and intelligent Muslims urged our government to take this step, seeing as they did that their schools were lagging badly behind the primary and other schools that the authorities had opened following the occupation.

                The ibtida'i mektebs are Muslim religious primary schools, similar to the old mejtefs, except that they begin by teaching the alphabet from a primer.  They differ from the old mejtefs in that the teachers in the mektebs are much more skilled, having graduated from the darulmuallimin, the newly-formed Islamic teacher training college in Sarajevo, and that they all have the same required academic qualifications.

                The ibtida'i mektebs no longer have the old-fashioned peştahta [where the pupils sat on the ground and set their books on a low platform in front of them], but have benches like other schools.  The schoolrooms are clean and light, and there are blackboards as in other primary schools.

                The teachers employed in the ibtida’i mektebs are mainly young, well-educated people, aware of their task and vocation as teachers.  They will have begun by studying Islamic studies in a medresa, and then gone on to learn the essentials of pedagogy and teaching methods in the darul-muallimin, which means they can be much more effective than their older colleagues who do not even know what the phrase teaching methods meant.

            The ibtida'i mektebs are founded and maintained by the country's Vakuf Commission, and the teachers are appointed by the Reis-ul ulema or on his behalf and that of the chairman of the country's Vakuf Commission.  Since this body maintains the ibtida'i mektebs and paid the teachers' salaries, it has the right to supervise them, which is currently being done by the kadi or his deputy of the district were the ibtida'i is located.  Recently these schools have been appointing a supervisor, some more intelligent Muslim, who ensures that the muallims, teachers, who hold classes uphold the rules and requirements of modern methods and pedagogy.....»(Hangi: 1990, pp. 129-130)

(5) «...But if we must find fault, we do for all that have something to be thankful for, which is our sıbyan-mektebs, which are working very well, with the muallims tirelessly endeavouring to see that the children learn as much as possible and advance in knowledge, and all our citizens acknowledge and are grateful to them for their work.  Two years ago an ibtida’i mekteb was opened here, and so far about forty children have completed the curriculum, whereas before it was set up, there were not even four.  But that is because the muallims tell the parents how necessary and important school is, and urge them to send their children to school.  We hope, therefore, that within a year there will be as many as 80 of our Muhammedan children in the school.  Two muallims are paid by the Vakuf, and it would be desirable for the Vakuf to take on and pay another, which we need, since our  Stolac is a big place…»( Potreba vodovoda.-Rasvjeta.-Škole, Bošnjak, 19 March 1896, no 12, Vol VI, p. 2, Sarajevo)

(6) - Project fur ein Mekteb in Stolac, February 1900, Stolac; building measuring 14x17 metres; signed M. David

   - Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, April 1900, Mostar; building measuring 10,80x15 metres; signed M. David

   -project ... fur ein Mekteb in Stolac, 21.06.1900, Sarajevo; building measuring 17,50x17,50 metres

   - Project fur ein Mektebgehaude in Stolac fur 200 kinder, 1894, Mostar, building measuring 10,30x12 metres

(7) Max (Maximilian) David, engineer (Alttitschein, Moravska, 7. XII 1859). Graduated from Technical College in Brno, which he attended twice, from 1877 to 1879 and from 1880 to 1883.  Initially worked as assistant lecturer at the Technical College in Brno, and then for a number of firms in Czechoslovakia.  Worked in Bosnia from 21 May 1890 in Mostar District.  Moved to Tuzla in 1907. Lit: Wiener Bauindustrie-Zeitung, Wien, XX, 41, 10.VII 1908, 390-391. Izvor: Arhiv Bosne i Hercegovine-personalni list (Krzović: 1987, p. 248).  His name is associated as designer with the District Court building in Mostar, 1891-1892 (Krzović: 1987, p.     21), and an extension to the Girls' School of the Sisters of Mercy in Mostar, 1903 (Krzović: 1987, p. 23). 

(8) The Vakuf building (Arsa Tekke) in Sarajevo was designed in 1896 by Hans Niemeczek, an engineer working in Sarajevo as a civil architect and engineer for the Vakuf Commission. Source: Bosnische Bote, Sarajevo, 1898 (Krzović: 1987, pp. 95, 119 and 251).  

Mejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, photo from 2003Mejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, entrance facadeMejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, facade from 'Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, april 1900, Mostar' Mejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, plan from 'Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, april 1900, Mostar'
Mejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, cross section from 'Project fűr ein Reform-Mekteb in Stolac, april 1900, Mostar'Facade, detailMejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, interior - view from the upper floorMejtef Mektebi Ibtidaije, interior-view from the staircases

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