Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Mosque in Dabrica (the mosque of Sefer-aga Begović in Dabrica), 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 13 October 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of  the mosque in Dabrica (the mosque of Sefer-aga Begović in Dabrica) is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 1  cadastral municipality Dabrica, Berkovići Municipality, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the mosque, harem with nišan tombstones, and surrounding wall of the harem.

            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 the Federation 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.




            The use of the premises for religious, educational and cultural purposes is permitted, subject to the owner of the building respecting the premises' original religious use.

Protection measures:

            Protection Zone I consists of c.p. no. 1,  c.m. Dabrica.  In this protection zone the following measures shall apply:

            The architectural ensemble of the mosque in Dabrica with the harem alongside the mosque, including the surrounding walls, shall be conserved and restored, and missing elements shall be reconstructed in their original form, of the same size, of the same or the same type of material, using the same techniques wherever possible, based on documentation on their original appearance forming an integral part of this Decision, 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.  As part of the rehabilitation project the methods of conservation, reconstruction (anastylosis and repristination), restoration, structural repair and consolidation shall be used.

            To ensure that the mosque is protected and to secure the conditions for its rehabilitation the following measures shall be implemented:

1. Urgent protection from further deterioration

  • clearance of the site of self-sown vegetation
  • conservation of the walls
  • survey and structural analysis of the walls
  • repair and structural consolidation of the walls
  • protect the mosque, in particular the walls, from the effect of the elements
  • identify, classify, and properly protect the fragments of the mosque remaining  on the site since their devastation.

2.  Rehabilitation of the ensemble

  • based on documentation on the state of the building prior to devastation, draw up a project for its reconstruction and restoration, and the reintegration of the oriental inscriptions found on the stone door and window frames on the entrance facade (beneath the peeled-off layer of whitewash that was on these surfaces)
  • the reconstruction of all elements for which there is no reliable documentation shall be so handled as part of the project as to ensure that their interpolation is clearly visible
  • fragments of the walls of the mosque remaining on the site or on adjacent sites after the demolition of the building shall be registered, recorded and reintegrated into the reconstructed building by the method of anastylosis, and the elements of the masonry structure of the mosque that are missing shall be made of material of the same or similar origins by the method of repristination,
  • the plastering of wall surfaces shall be performed using plaster the preparation of which shall be based on the findings of a stratigraphic study of the remains of the original plaster and paint in order to identify the original colours, chemical composition and nature of the plaster in the light of its granulometry and the materials used
  • in the portico of the mosque, the concrete elements built on in the 1960s shall be removed: reinforced concrete pillars, the reinforced concrete joist and roof structure of the portico
  • removal of the reinforced concrete ring beam from the crown of the surrounding wall, restore the crown of the walls to its original height and restore the crown of the walls using authentic material (stone and wooden tie beams)
  • reconstruct the minaret
  • set the harem in order and repair damaged nišan tombstones
  • repair the surrounding stone walls of the harem

            Protection Zone II consists of a zone with a width of approx 30 m around Protection Zone I.

            In Zone II the rehabilitation of existing buildings shall be permitted and the interpolation of new ones may 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 and white-painted plastered walls of building bricks, stone slabs or light grey tiles as roof cladding, pitched roofs, wooden roof frames, roof pitch of 30o,  all windows and doors on the façade to be of unpainted wood).




            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.


No.: 07-6-704/03-6                                                                           
7 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  (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 17 March 2003 the Commission received a petition from Mr. Adem Smailhodžić of Stolac.

            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 no 352, c.m. Dabrica, issued on 6 September 2002 by the Land Registry Office, Municipal Court, Stolac)
  • 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. Details of the property



            The mosque of Sefer-aga Begović is in the village of Dabrica.  The road that forks off the Stolac-Čapljina road at Masline leads to this village, which is 18 km from Masline.

            The National Monument comprises the site designated as c.p. no. 1, c.m. Dabrica, Land Registry entry 352, Republika Srpska.

Historical information

            Between the formation of the Blagaj kadılık in 1469 and its abolition in 1851, it included Dabrica in the administrative and judicial sense. Written sources (Sicils of the Blagaj kadi: AT 6/288 and AT 6/297, Archives of Herzegovina; 55, 56, 57 and 60, Oriental Institute in Sarajevo), the Dabrica jamaat included the mahals of Bračići, Brijeg (Bajir-brijeg in the documents), Maričin gaj (Maričnjak in the sources) and Miljanovići (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 91).

            The chronogram incised on a stone slab measuring 60 x 35 cm set over the entrance door records that the mosque was built by Sefer-aga (Begović)(1) in 1019 AH (1610-1611). The inscription is set in four elliptical fields and written in fine naskh jali script. In the calligraphic sense the chronogram is very well executed, which is probably why a tradition has been preserved that it was written in Istanbul (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 391).

            Sefer-aga was a čorbadžija (officer of janissaries eating from the same cauldron) or juzbaša (captain).  It is said that he came to Dabrica from Turkey in the early sixteenth century and there built a mosque, maktab, khan and hammam (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 91).

            The vakufnama of the mosque has not survived, so it is not known what the vakif bequeathed for its maintenance and for paying officials.

            According to available documents  (Sicils of the Blagaj kadi: no. 55, sheet 54, no. 60, sheet 21, AT 6/288, sheet 26 and AT XXI/1025, sheets 11 and 13.), the duties of imam and khatib in this mosque were performed by Mehmed Halifa, 1141 AH (1728/29), Ibrahim Halifa, 1142 AH (1729/30), Mehmed ef., 1180 AH (1766/67), Ibrahim hodža 1200 AH (1785/86) iand Ibrahim ef. 1217 AH (1802/3). Another document (Sicil of the Blagaj kadi AT XXI/1025, sheet 13), Mehmed ef. Muftić was mutevelli of Sefer-aga's vakuf in Dabrica in 1141 AH (1728/29) (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 92).

            About 50 metres from the mosque is the Višnjica potable water spring. Local tradition is that during Ottoman rule a hammam was built here. There is no other information available about the hammam. At some unknown date a khan was built near the mosque, which was destroyed during World War I, and later a maktab and accommodation for a muallim were built on the site. The memory of the khan survives in the toponym Hanine (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 93).

            According to written sources, the oldest nišan tombstone in the burial ground alongside the mosque in Dabrica was erected in memory of Ali-beg Muftić, and dates from 1194 AH (1780) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 391).

             «The wind knocked half the minaret down in 1899, and it was later rebuilt, but remained somewhat shorter» (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 91).

            The mosque was repaired on several occasions (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 91), and according to Prof. Smail Klarić, major works were carried out on the mosque in the 1960s.


2. Description of the property


            The mosque in Dabrica has a central prayer space, sofas, a hipped roof and a square stone minaret.  Stone minarets of square ground plan are found only in Herzegovina. As well as the one in Dabrica, square minarets are found with the Telarević mosque in Bjeljani near Stolac, and mosques in the Bileća region: the Avdić mosque in Plana, the Hasan paša Predojević mosque in Grabovica, the mosques in Kljuni, Kružnje and Svinjarina; mosques in the Nevesinje area: the Perkušić mosque in Nevesinje, the Čelebić mosque in Donja Bijenja, the mosque in Kruševljani, and the mosque in Glavatićevo near Konjic and the Fatima kaduna mosque in Mostar.

            Until the works carried out in the 1960s, the minaret of the mosque in Dabrica had a cornice at the height of the šerefe (balcony), of the kind featuring on Romanesque buildings.

            The prayer space of the mosque has a hipped roof, with the north-eastern side extended to cover the entrance area with sofas, which were originally open (but were enclosing during the works in the 1960s).  The building is rectangular in ground plan, with external dimensions of approx. 9.12 x 13.08 m.  The walls are of cut limestone in lime mortar, and are about 75 cm thick, with the quoins executed as larger interlocking ashlar blocks. The walls of the mosque are partly of pointed stone and partly stuccoed on the outside, and are plastered and whitewashed on the inside.

            Originally, the mosque had a wooden hipped roof frame clad with stone slabs.  During the interventions of the 1960s, according to Prof. Smail Klarić, some repairs were carried out during which the original appearance of the mosque was not taken into consideration: the original open entrance portico was enclosed by a wall in which a new entrance door and two side windows were set; the minaret was concreted and reinforced (it can be seen from the existing remains of the minaret that it had been provided with concrete and reinforced concrete reinforcements inside and out at the šerefe level, where a reinforced concrete ring beam was placed, and that the polygonal roof was replaced by a reinforced concrete cone-shaped top; the original stone slab roof cladding was replaced by grooved tiles; the wooden šiše ceiling was removed and the ceiling plastered on the under side; a reinforced concrete ring beam of the same width as the walls and a height of about 20-25 cm was set on the the crowns of the mosque walls (the ring beam projected in the shape of a reinforced concrete dripping edge about 35-40 cm wide and 10 cm high on the outer side); gutters were set on the entrance eaves of the roof (there had been no gutters previously).

            In terms of layout, the building consists of the open entrance area of the sofas (the entrance to the prayer space is from the north-west) measuring 4.45 x 7.62 metres, with a central passage approx. 1.50 x 4.45 m, and two sofars, the left measuring 3.03 x 4.45 m. and the right 2.69 x 4.45 m, and a central almost square prayer space measuring 7.63 x 7.67 m, with an interior mahfil.

            The mahfil was wooden and rested on three wooden pillars. The end pillars abutted onto the side walls of the mosque (traces of this are visible in situ on the wall surface, by the very edges of the dolafs, so that the distance between the front vertical face of the pillars and the inner vertical face of the entrance wall was about 278 cm) while the central wooden pillar rested on a stone foot measuring 52 x 65 cm (in depth the axis of the pillar was about 340 cm from the vertical face of the entrance wall and in width it was exactly in line with the entrance door/mihrab). Given the different depths at which the supporting pillars of the mahfil were set, the assumption is that the mahfil had a projecting niche for the muezzin in the centre of the front of the mahfil.  The mahfil had a secondary horizontal structure consisting of four horizontal oak beams. These were supported at one end by being set into the entrance wall of the mosque and at the other must have rested on a wooden joist. Remains of these beams are visible in situ on the wall (the beams had an average cross-sectio of 12 x 12 cm and were set at distances of 237cm, 248 cm and 219 cm apart seen from the centre of the mosque looking towards the entrance wall). The upper side of the horizontal beams that were set into the wall, measured from the floor level of the interior, was about 200 cm+.

            Resonators(2)  were set 1.20 to 1.80 metres apart in the upper parts of the walls of the central areas along their entire length at a height of about 380 cm from floor level on the inside of the mosque.

            The side walls of the mosque projected outwards in the form of an anta, forming a portico that was open only on the entrance front of the mosque. The floor level of the exterior sofas was about 40 cm higher than that of the central area of the mosque.

            The height of the walls measured in the central prayer space was about 4.60 m from the floor to the crown of the walls.

            Two windows were set in the mihrab wall, with openings measuring apprpox. 70 x 95 cm on the exterior, in the lower zone in a single horizontal row. Two windows and a door (the opening of which measures approx. 115 x 180 cm) were set in the exterior wall that divides the central interior space from that of the entrance portico with sofas; the door lintel is executed in the form of a shallow arch made of three sections.  On the wall at right angles to the mihrab wall and to the right of the entrance, one dolaf (cupboard) niche about 60 x 115 cm with a depth of about 30cm, and one window were set in the lower zone, with the same niche and window in the opposite wall, plus two upper windows and a doorway terminating in a shallow stone arch, measuring about 75 x 180 cm, with the level of the threshold about 230 cm above the ground floor level of the interior, through which the minaret was reached via the mahfil.

            The windows have plain stone frames forming a rectangle, visible on the façade. All the windows on the façade, other than one upper window in the façade onto which the minaret abuts, had broken stone arches. On the inner side, the entrance door and all the windows had wooden lintels, formed by four horizontal oak beams set one alongside the other (tie beam construction). All the outside lower windows had wrought iron bars.

            The stone door and window frames on the entrance façade, beneath the peeling layer of whitewash, all had inscriptions written in Arabic script. No documentary evidence has been found to indicate that these inscriptions have been studied.

            The mihrab, measuring approx. 118 x 258 cm, and the mihrab niche are made of regular blocks of tenelija limestone laid in fourteen courses.  The niche is of roughly hemispherical form (by nature it is a regular semi-decagon, with the sides about 28 cm wide) about 85 cm wide and 2.30 metres high, vaulted towards the top. The surround of the niche is flush with the wall surface.

            The square stone minaret was erected to the right of the entrance to the mosque.  In cross section it measures approx. 1.95 x 1.95 metres.  Written records suggest that it was about 15 metres tall, with the note that after it was demolished in 1889 it was made somewhat shorter (Hasandedić: 1990, p. 91). In the project for the reconstruction of the Seferaga Begović mosque in Dabrica drawn up in May 2003 by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH, the height of the minaret is approx. 17 m. from ground to alem.

            The barrel of the mosque was built of cut limestone and had two string courses: one at the level of the šerefe and the other in the form of a cornice at the top of the square section of the minaret. The distance between the two, as measured in situ on 15 August 2003, is about 260 cm. The top of the minaret had the form of a polygonal roof clad with slabs. At the very top of the minaret was an alem with three pommels.

            Near the top of the minaret were four rectangular windows measuring approx. 50 x 80 cm through which the muezzin would stick his head when calling the azaan.

            As a rule there are no epitaphs on the older nišan tombstones in the burial ground; all are of small size, simple workmanship and left plain, without decoration.


3. Legal status to date

            The building has not enjoyed protected status.

4. Research and conservation and restoration works

            In May 2003 the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH drew up a project for the reconstruction of the Seferaga Begović mosque in Dabrica.


5. Current condition of the property

            The mosque building was badly damaged during the 1992-1995 war. The minaret was completely destroyed, and all that survived of the building was the wall structure, which led to the progressive deterioration of the walls, floors, windows, doors and interior as a whole.  Since then the mosque has not been in use.

            As a result, the entire architectural ensemble, including the interior of the mosque and maktab buildings, is overgrown with self-sown vegetable, making it almost impossible to conduct a detailed survey of the condition of the building and 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.v. value of details

                        D. Clarity

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

                        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. 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



  • Hasandedić, Hivzija, Muslimanska baština u istočnoj Hercegovini (Muslim heritage in eastern Herzegovina),Mashihat of the Islamic Community, El-Kalem, Sarajevo, 1990
  • Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH, Sarajevo,   Project for the Reconstruction of the Seferaga Begović mosque in Dabrica, 2003
  • Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic Epigraphics of  BiH), Vol    3, 3rd ed., Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo Publishing, 1998
  • Mulaomerović, Jasminko, Još o “rezonatorima” u muslimanskom graditeljstvu kod nas, (More           about “resonators” in Muslim architecture in our country) Journal of the Rijaset of the     Islamic Religious Community in SFRY, no .5, Sarajevo, 1991 (using the services of the   Gazi Husrev-beg library in Sarajevo)
  • Nametak, Alija, Islamski kulturni spomenici u Bosni i Hercegovini, (Islamic cultural monuments in    BiH) Journal of the Islamic Religious Community of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, no. 1,                        January 1939, Vol. VII, Sarajevo (using the services of the Gazi Husrev-beg library in      Sarajevo)
  • Slovo Gorčina '74, Presidency of Stolac Municipality, Mostar, 1974 (photograph on p. 14)
  • Together with verbal accounts by Prof. Smail Klarić


(1) “Sefer-aga erected this building,

to the gratitude of those who give thanks to Allah.

Its chronogram was inspired by God:

‘This place of worship is pleasing to God and the house of good people’

1019.” (1610/611), (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 390).

(2) Structural elements, usually of hollow tubular form, often worked on a potter’s wheel, usually set in the upper part of walls to improve the acoustic qualities of a space; common used in religious buildings

Mosque in Dabrica (the mosque of Sefer-aga Begović in Dabrica), photo from 2003Harem of the mosque in DabricaMosque in Dabrica, porch, photo from 2003Interior of the Mosque in Dabrica, view at the mihrab wall
Mosque in Dabrica before the restoration in sixties of XX centuryMosque in Dabrica after restoration works Mosque in Dabrica after restoration works, northeast facadeSouthwest wall, photo from 2003<br>Facade<br>Interior view
Entrance porticoTarih, inscriptionMihrabWindow at the entrance facade

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