Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska, 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 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no.247 and 248, cadastral municipality Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists  of the mosque and harem with burial ground.

            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 restore 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 restoration 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.



            In order to ensure the lasting preservation of the National Monument the following protection zones are hereby defined:

            Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision, consisting of the old Jezerski fort and the mosque within the ramparts.

            All works are prohibited other than conservation and reconstruction works, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the regional planning Ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority).

            The restoration of the mosque must be carried out in compliance with the following conditions:

  • clear the interior ceiling space of the mosque;
  • carry out structural repairs and consolidation of damaged walls;
  • carry out structural repairs to the parts of the building affected by rising damp in a way that will not jeopardize the value of the property as a monument;
  • draw up a reconstruction project for the entrance portico with open sofas, based on prior studies and data on the original appearance of the entrance sofas before they were walled in.  Based on this project, reconstruct the open portico, with the approval of the regional planning Ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority;
  • replace the existing roof cladding of fluted tiles by a roof cladding of wooden shingles and reconstruct the roof;
  • replace damaged parts of the roof and floor structure and the floors with new made to the model of the old ones;
  • use the same or same type of material as that used to build the mosque and use the same building techniques and treatment of materials;
  • draw up a project for the reconstruction, restoration and reintegration of plastered wall surfaces and wall decoration in the interior of the mosque, based on the findings of a stratographic survey of the remains of the original plaster and pigments so as to ascertain the original palette, chemical composition and nature of the mortar in the light of its granulometry and the materials used;
  • reconstruct all parts for which there is no reliable documentation as part of the project in such a way as to ensure that their interpolation is clearly recognizable.

            Protection Zone II consists of an approx. 30-metre wide strip around Protection Zone I.

            In Protection Zone II, the construction of industrial facilities is prohibited..

Detailed regional planning and building regulation conditions for the construction of buildings in this zone must incorporate the approval of the heritage protection authority.




            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.



9 October 2003


Chair of the Commission


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 11 November 2002, Kakanj Municipality submitted a petition to designate the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            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)
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage if any, 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. Details of the property


            The architectural ensemble of the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska is on c.p. 247 and 248, c.m. Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj Municipality, owned by the Islamic  Religious Community.

            Kraljeva Sutjeska in in a small valley on the upper edge of Bijelo Polje. “Through the valley runs the river Trstvinica, after emerging from the sutjeska or gorge from which the little town acquired its name.  The valley is enclosed on the west by the Rešikovac hillside below Straževice (or Striževice or Streževice) hill, and on the east by the Ježevica hillside below  Rida hill” (Filipović: 1928, p. 589).

            “The present-day old part of Kraljeva Sutjeska, although a small settlement, has preserved the names of its quarters, and it is easy to reconstruct, from those toponyms, the mediaeval arrangement of the various parts of the settlement. “Varoš” is the area formerly the merchants’ and artisans’ quarter.  “Prijeko” (across the river) is the name of a residential quarter, which was somewhat apart from the noise and bustle of the merchants and craftsmen, on the left bank of the river.  In this area a mosque was built when the settlement was at the peak of its development, and of which Muslim tradition says that it was Mehmed II the Conqueror who gave permission for it to be built.” (Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bobovac i okolina: 1987, p.10).

Historical information

            There is little historical information about the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska.  The vakufnama of the founder has not survived, nor has the tarih with its chronogram, and there is no accurate or reliable information about the origins of the building. Folk tradition says it dates from the fet[1]  or conquest of 1463[2].

            Written sources refer to several officials, Muslim dignitaries, whose names are associated with Kraljeva Sutjeska: imam Alihodža, hojja and muezzin Halil, imam halifa Ebu Bekir, Ibrahim hojja-hatih, muezzin Ahmed Čelebija, imam Behram-Halifa son of Durak, Ahmed-efendija muderris of Sarajevo and others (Filipović: 1928, pp. 592-593).

            “The tenth of Muharram[3]  is the traditional date on which the Muslim inhabitants of the Kraljeva Sutjeska area celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.s.  This year the celebration was held somewhat later, on 6 September, because of the renovation of the mosque. . . But it was not at all easy to enter this beautifully decorated mosque, which is almost 500 years old and is one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans. The mosque and its harem were packed with people.  A mass of good-natured faces, peaceful and decent, were pressed against the doors and windows, looking into the mosque.”“ (Džemal S.:1957, p. 438).  


2. Description of the property

            The mosque is of elongated rectangular ground-plan, with exterior dimensions of approx. 7.93 x 13.10 m.  The total usable area is approx. 118,60 sq.m. (approx. 53 sq.m. ground floor + ground floor entrance portico approx. 23 sq.m. + 18 sq. m. mahfil + approx. 24 sq.m. of the part of the portico outside the mahfil on the upper floor).  The mosque was built of unbaked brick with wooden tie beams, with the foundations and walls of the central ground floor area to socle height built of stone, and both the exterior and interior façades are plastered and whitewashed.

            Access to the mosque is from the north-west, through an enclosed entrance portico which, together with the central prayer space of the mosque, is covered by a single hipped roof.

            To the left and right of the entrance door on the ground floor of the mosque are enclosed sofas (with an area of approx. 9.25 sq.m. each) serving as abdesthana and gasulhana (respectively, place for ritual ablutions and place for laying out the dead).  In the front corner of the right-hand sofa is a two-flight L-shaped wooden staircase leading to the upper floor of the interior mahfil, superimposed over the exterior enclosed sofas, on which are located an area for holding religious instruction (area approx. 11 sq.m) and an antechamber from which the door to the mahfil leads.  The arrangement of the mosque has a frontal mahfil structure about 280 cm deep and about 6.45 m wide.


  • the different thicknesses of the walls of the central mosque area (about 75 cm) and of the sofas (about 25 cm),
  • the use to which the interior space of the enclosed sofas are put (abdesthana, gasulhana and classroom),
  • the size, arrangement and vertical position of the windows within the area of the enclosed entrance sofas on the north-east and north-west (entrance) facade it may be deduced that the mosque originally had an open exterior portico with exterior open sofas.  With the passage of time the area was walled in and used for other purposes.  It has not been possible to ascertain from available documentation when these alterations were carried out[4].

            Four square wooden pillars set in two rows over wooden bearer joists take the load of the mahfil.  The front load-bearing pillars have profiled corbels.  There is a rectangular projection in the centre of the front mahfil for the muezzin.

            The mihrab, measuring about 115 cm wide x 230 cm high, in the form of an elliptical niche, is set in the south-east wall and fitted with a rectangular frame measuring about 195 x 320 cm projecting by about 15 cm from the wall surface.  The surface of the mihrab niche and frame are painted in light blue, black, shades of yellow-green and ochre,with geometric and floral motifs.

            The interior of the mosque has been painted using a house-painter's roller (the structure of the painted surfaces moulded in the form of floral motif) in shades of light green.  Oil paint has been used on the socle of the interior and on all the wooden surfaces in the interior (mahfil, railing, ćurs, mimber, carpentry, šiše ceiling).

            To the right of the mihrab is a wooden mimber with nine steps.  Above the podium of the mimber is a canopy supported by four pillars terminating in pointed oriental arches.  The top of the mimber is polygonal topped by an octagon, and rests on an octagonal drum on the sides of which are carved stylized apertures terminating in pointed oriental arches.  The entire mimber is oil-painted in light blue.

            The mosque has two rows of rectangular windows.  On the entrance facade there are two lower windows, on the south-west facade there are three lower and two upper windows, on the south-east facade two upper and two lower windows, and on the north-east facade three upper and three lower windows.

            The upper and lower windows are set in the same vertical axes.  The windows are single double-casements, glazed with ordinary glass.  All the windows except those of the entrance façade are fitted with iron bars.

            The mosque has a steep hipped roof from the centre of which the wooden minaret emerges.  The pitch of the roof is about  30o. The roof flashings and guttering are of galvanized iron.

            The roof structure is wooden, with double fluted tiles as cladding.  The original cladding, which was of shingles, was replaced by tiles, suggesting that the pitch of the roof was also altered (the pitch of a shingled roof should be 40-45o).  The structural treatment of the roof is a combination of collar beams and kinds of angled post (there are posts beneath each strut, transferring the load to the horizontal roof beams).    The roof structure has no rafters.

             A short wooden ladder leads up from the mahfil to the roof space.  The minaret is reached from the centre of the roof space, with a spiral staircase leading to the open gallery of the šerefe.  There are 33 steps with a height of about 25 cm from the roof space to the floor of the šerefe.  The total height of the minaret from the floor of the roof space to the top of the minaret is about 10.80 metres.

            The minaret, which is of octagonal section, is made of eight wooden edging pillars of rectangular cross-section, with their average size narrowing gradually from the base to the top of the minaret.  The vertical structure of the minaret rests on a base in the form of a wooden grid resting in turn on the transverse load-bearing wall (the wall between the sofa and the central interior area) of the mosque.

            There are about fifty nišan tombstones in the mosque harem.

            In the 1950s water was piped in and a fountain built to the right of the entrance to the harem, while to the west of the mosque, about 10-15 m away, a field latrine with septic tank was built.

            Immediately prior to the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo the building was wired for electricity.


3. Legal status to date

            Pursuant to the law and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. UP-I-08-92-1/76 of 9 September 1976 the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska was placed under state protection.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            In 1999 the AS Architectural Service of Kakanj (architect Zaimović Širbeg) drew up a design project to build an ancillary structure (gasulhana) in the hamre of the mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska, which did not receive the approval of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH.  The Institute did approve the installation of drainage around the mosque, and these works were carried out in 2000.


5. Current condition of the property

            The walling-in of the portico and installation of a gasulhana, abdesthana and classroom, the use of tiles as roof cladding, and the painting of the interior of the mosque have caused the building to lose its original appearance.  It is also exposed to the effects of damp, with damage from rising damp visible on the walls.




            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 32/02 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.iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

                        E. Symbolic value

                                    E.ii. religious value

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

                        F. Townscape/ Landscape value

                                    F.i.  Relation to other elements of the site


            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:

  • Ćulum, R., Monografija džamije u Sutjesci-(Kraljevoj) (Monograph on the mosque in Sutjeska),         Visoko
  • Domović, Želimir, Rječnik stranih riječi (Dictionary of Foreign Words) Belgrade, 2001
  • Džemal S., Proslava Mevludi-šerifa u Kraljevoj Sutjesci iz Kaknja, (Celebration of maulid in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj) Journal of the  Supreme Islamic Council in FNRY, VIII  (XX)/1957; no.10-12, Sarajevo
  • Filipović, Milenko S.: Visočka nahija (Visoko nahiye), Mak, Biblioteka Trag; vol.1, Visoko (2002       facsimile reprint from a book entitled Naselja i poreklo stanovništva [Settlements and    origin of inhabitants], Serbian Royal Academy, Belgrade, 1928)
  • Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bobovac i okolina, (Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bobovac and Environs) «Brief Tourist         Monographs», no.22, Zagreb, 1987
  • Truhelka, Ćiro, Naši gradovi.(Our towns) Naklada knjižare J. Studnička & Co. Sarajevo, 1904.
  • Design project of existing condition of mosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska drawn up by AS Architectural     Service Kakanj (architect Zaimović Širbeg),  1998/99

[1] Fath (Ar.), conquest; Turkish fet

[2] «...There is only one mosque in Sutjeska. Folk tradition claims it was the first mosque to be built in Bosnia. When Bobovac was taken, the story goes, the Turkish army rested up in the Sutjeska valley.  On the site where the mosque now stands, El-Fatih stuck his stick in order to pray.  When he saw an ant climbing up the stick, he ordered a mosque to be built there.  On the third day, a mosque appeared there.  It was provided for its maintenance with a tithe from Poljeno, Lučić and some other villages, the revenues from the ferry below Doboj and the salt wells in Tuzla. . .» (Filipović: 1928, p. 592).  

[3] Muharram (ar. harama), first month in the Muslim calendar, with 30 days, so called because war was forbidden (haram) in this month (Domović: 2001, p. 925)

[4] In an article by Džemal S.: Proslava Mevludi-šerifa u Kraljevoj Sutjesci iz Kaknja, published in 1957, there is reference to the «renovation of the mosque» but without a description of the works.  The petition of the Majlis of the Islamic community of Kakanj included a work by R. Ćulum, Monografija džamije u Sutjesci-(Kraljevoj), which notes: «...The mosque was renovated in 1902, but other than the roof no significant alterations to its original appearance were allowed (the shingles were replaced by roof tiles)».     

Mosque, drinking fountain and the harem in Kraljeva SutjeskaFront facade of the Mosque in Kraljeva SutjeskaMosque in Kraljeva SutjeskaMosque in Kraljeva Sutjeska, mihrab and mimber

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