Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Parish Church in Vareš, 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 parish church in Vareš is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot. Nos. 1134, 1135, 1136 and 1137 cadastral municipality. Vareš, Vareš Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the old church of St. Michael and the new church of St Michael the Archangel with movable items consisting of:

-         in the old church of St Michael: the main altar dedicated to St Michael, two diptychs with figures of St Peter, St Gregory the Great, St Francis and St Nicholas, a side altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and six lamps.

-         in the new church of St Michael: the main altar dedicated to St Michael and two side altars dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Anthony, and reliefs of the Way of the Cross.

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




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

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (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, relating to c.p. 1135, 1135, 1136 and 1137,  c.m Vareš, being the site on which the National Monument is located:

Ÿ         all works of any kind on the buildings constituting the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than archaeological investigations and works of conservation and restoration, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in the  Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Ÿ         the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited.


            A protection zone with a width of 50 m from the outer limits of Protection Zone I is hereby designated, within which all new construction, the construction of major infrastructure facilities, and the dumping of waste are prohibited.





            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The removal of the movable items listed in Clause I para. 3 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable items for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Permission for the temporary removal of the movable property from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the collection in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the collection, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the collection shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            The Government of the Federation, the Ministry of Regional Planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




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




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




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


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


Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No: :  08.2-6-971/03-5                                                    

9 October 2003                                                             



E l u c i d a t i o n



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

            At a session held on 30 June 1998 the Commission issued a Decision to add the old and new churches of St Michael the Archangel in Vareš to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 753 and 754.

            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:

Ÿ         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.

Ÿ         Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ         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 architectural ensemble of the Parish Church, consisting of the old and new church of St Michael, is in Vareš, a town 46 km to the north of Sarajevo in the valley of the river Stavnja, on a site consisting of c.p. 1135, 1135, 1136 and 1137, c.m. Vareš, Land Registry entry no. 770/03, at an altitude of approx. 830 m, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Historical information

            The natural wealth of the entire area meant that the area around the town of Vareš was settled very early on.  The Romans were already exploiting the minerals here, although little evidence remains, such as the plaque with the inscription «vilicus procurator» and a miner's lantern (fra Ignacije Gavran, p. 10).  In the mediaeval period some of the villages around Vareš are referred to as mining centres, such as the village of Duboštice (1393 CE), and the assumption is that iron ore was excavated and smelted here, as were other types of ore during the reigns of the Bosnian bans (Kulin and Stjepan II Kotromanić) and of the Bosnian kings (fra Ignacije Gavran, p. 10). There is very little information on the subject (H.Kreševljaković, pp. 409-459).

            The settlement of Vareš is referred to by this name during the time of the Bosnian govenor Jakub Hadum paša (1489-1493), in the sixteenth century (a defter of 1516). As noted by Turkish defters at that time, the settlement had about 150 houses. The basic occupation of the people of the area was mining and iron working, producing various items that were sold, through agents, throughout the Ottoman Empire.  This was accompanied by the production of charcoal, which was essential to the process of iron smelting.  Later other crafts, too, developed, with certain forms of trade, transport and administration.  Economic development remained static for centuries: in 1640, fra Pavao from Rovinje found about forty mines in Vareš, exactly the same number that Austria found there when it built the first blast furnace in 1891.  Following this, the extraction and independent smelting of ore in the mines was stopped, and all production was transferred to the Vareš iron works.

            «During the years of Bosnian independence, the Christian faithful of this region were served by the Franciscans of the Kraljeva Sutjestka monastery.   The system then was of so-called chaplaincies: the duty priest would come from his base in the monastery to hold services for a while, and would then return to the monastery.  The places to which the priests came in the early years were Duboštica and the Oglavić plateau, as well as the village of Diknić» (fra Ignacije Gavran, p. 13). 

            «At a time when many mines were being built along the river Stavnja, followed by houses for the miners, it was essential to create a headquarters for a priest and build a church in the valley and for the settlement to become a parish.  Although it is not known exactly when this occurred, it seems likely that it was in the early sixteenth century» (fra Ignacije Gavran, p. 14). 

Old church:

            This is the oldest surviving Catholic church predating Omer-paša, i.e. before 1850.  There is no exact information about when it was built.  Some date it back to the period of Bosnian independence, but there is no firm evidence for this.  According to Kreševljaković, it was first built in the first decade of the sixteenth century, and certainly prior to 1516 (H.Kreševljaković, p. 415).   According to Alij Bejtić, archive documents from the Ottoman period of the «commission's survey of the church following renovation» state that the church was erected on the site of an  old church that had become completely dilapidated, along with the previous dimensions, also taken by a commission, of the old church prior to its demolition.  «Bearing this in mind, it leads to the conclusion that this form of church, which has survived to this day, evokes the much older forms and architecture of the old church» (Bejtić, 1958, p.)

            The church was damaged by fire on several occasions.  There are surviving records of the two most severe fires – the first during the Vienna war, in about 1679, and the second in the early nineteenth century, 1819.  Fra Pavao from Rovinje saw this church when he was staying in the area in 1640, but did not describe it.  After the early nineteenth century fire it was again rebuilt, and according to the assumptions of the friars of the church, it was rebuilt in the same form and to the same dimensions as before.  The walls were built by Herzegovinian masons, while the vault of the building was probably built by local craftsmen, who were highly skilled in the use of wood (J.Jelenić, 1927, p. 196 and Fra ignacije Gavran, p. 28 ).

            There is a stone plaque recording the renovation of the church on the wall to the left of the south door, reading:


            In translation:

            This house dedicated to St Michael the Archangel was renovated from the foundations in 1819, as the common people reckon time, when the president (resident) was the much respected Father fr. Augustin of Vareš and the parish was run by Pavao Kolonović.

            The funerary chapel of the kings of Bosnian in Bobovac is dedicated to the same saint.  This chapel also had three bronze bells, one of which was Romanesque in form and dated from the mid fourteenth century, while another bore an inscription in Gothic uncials reading: «Master-craftsman Marko Pribislav made in the year of our Lord 1410» (i.e. in the reign of King Ostoja). The third bell bears an image of St Michael and an inscription referring to Master-craftsman Marko Vendramus with the year 1396.

            «Once the works were completed, wooden pews were installed in the church, which reduced the amount of interior space, and some people, particularly the wealthy, obtained a privileged position.  This almost led to a rebellion, so that the pews were removed.  Anyone who wanted to sit down during the sermon would bring a small folding three-legged stool with him, small enough to put in a largish pocket.  Women would bring a small woollen carpet and would kneel, or sometimes sit on it, which they could do because almost all of them were wearing dimije» (dimije: loose baggy trousers giving the effect of a long skirt) (Fra ignacije Gavran, p. 22 ). 

            The church had no bell tower, although it had a small bell that was rung every day, and was located in the church itself (Fra ignacije Gavran, p. 25). In 1990-1991 a wooden bell tower was added outside the church on the west end.

New church:

            Since the old church was too small in size to accommodate all the congregation in Vareš, a new church was built in 1854-1869, which Fra Ignacije Gavran calls Kljajić's church, after Fra Ivan Kljajić, in whose time it was built.  It no longer survives in its original form, following later alterations.  There is no information in the archives of the Kraljeva Sutjeska monastery other than two photographs of the exterior and one of the interior of the building.  There is a stone plaque with an inscription inside the new church of St Michael over the entrance to the chancel, reading:


(In 1854-6 this church was made  In 1904-6 it was wholly restored, extended by five metres, made more shapely, adorned with two towers, and provided with a sacristy.)

            In the mid nineteenth century, in the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid, the  Franciscans were granted permission to build new churches.  Land was allotted for the Vareš church, and the dimensions were stipulated: 44 ells in length, 24 ells in width, 16 ells in height (Jako Baltić, 1991, p. 172.).   The building of the church began in 1854 on an elevation known as Crkvena Luka.  The church was completed in 1857, but it was not until 1869 that it was finally finished, thanks to the efforts of Fr. Franjo Komadanović.  Fr. M. Karamatić relates, in the organization chart of Bosnia Argentina, that the bell tower of this church, which was erected in 1886, was the work of the architect Josip Vancaš – though there is no data to corroborate this claim.  It is not known who built this church – probably a builder from Dalmatia or Herzegovina (Karamatić).  The works were commissioned by Fr. Ivan Kljajić (1788-1867).

            By the beginning of the twentieth century the existing church was no longer big enough for the congregation, which had doubled in size.  In 1864 the parish had had a congregation of 1879, which had increased to 3412 by 1905.  As a result, works began in 1903 on enlarging the church, which took until 1906.  The works were led by the architect Josip Vancaš. The result was to alter the church completely (Fra Ignacije Gavran, 1998, p.)

            Josip Vancaš was born in Sopron, Hungary, in 1859. He graduated from technical college in Vienna in 1881, and studied at the Academy of Art in Vienna from 1882 to 1884, after which he worked in the Fellner-Helmer studio.   From 1884 to 1890 he acted as Government Architect in Sarajevo, after which he worked as a freelance until 1918.  He died in Zagreb in 1932.  He designed more than 240 buildings, many of which were actually built.  He drew up the plans for more than 70 churches (including the Cathedral in Sarajevo and St Anthony's Church in Sarajevo), as well as designing palaces, hotels, banks and so on.


2. Description of the property

Old church of St Michael

            The old church of St Michael is a building of rectangular ground plan measuring 8.96 x 14.34 m, with interior dimensions of 7.55 x 12.90 metres.  It is constructed of hard dressed limestone blocks of regular shape, and the facades are not stuccoed.  The stone blocks used for the lower part of the walls are rather larger.  The walls are about 65 cm thick.  Wooden beams 20 x 20 cm in cross section were placed on the masonry wall crown, extending the full length of the building.  The overall height of the building is 7.00 m, of which the walls account for 2.40 m.  The roof is hipped, and clad with sawn pine shingles.  The rafters are set 90 to 100 cm apart.

Light coming into the church is resolved on the basilica principle, with window apertures in the roof – two each on the south and north sides and one on the west.  This is a system of lighting that is rarely seen in domestic architecture of the period (Bejtić, 1958. p. 4.).

            The building has two doors, the first at the west end and the other on the south side of the church.  The doors are low, with a height of 1.62 m and a width of 90 cm, and a stone threshold with a height of 15 cdm.  The doors are entirely clad with iron plates, fitted to the wooden structure with heavy, close-set studs.  The doors also have some modest iron decoration, the work of local blacksmiths.

            Unlike the church's austere exterior aspect, the interior appears quite spacious, thanks in part to its wooden barrel vault.  Below the wooden structure of the hipped roof is another wooden structure from which the barrel vault is suspended.  The vault is made of long, narrow tongue-and-groove boards.  At the eastern, altar end, the vault is turned, via a new basal moulded structure, into the altar stole .   At the opposite, west end, it terminates in a level vertical surface of semicircular outline.  Despite its length, the vault appears neither overbearing nor cold, and the area is visually broken up by the window niches (Bejtić, 1958. p. 4).  The available height of the building, measured from the floor to the ceiling vault, is 4.85 metres.  So the church could accommodate a greater number of worshippers, a spacious chancel was built extending to the centre of the building.  The entire structure rests on a single wooden load-bearing beam measuring 20 x 20 cm, laid on a wooden pillar also measuring 20 x 20 cm set in the geometric centre of the building.  The height of the chancel as measured from floor level is 2.40 metres.  Access to the chancel is by a simple wooden step 100 cm wide.

            The floor of the church is paved with stone slabs, beneath which are the tombs of members of the Catholic Church hierarchy in BiH.

            The church had no sacristy, and as a result the ritual items were kept in the niches in the walls of the church.

            The old church of St Michael had three altars:

1.       the main altar

2.       a side altar

3.       a small altar

            The first two altars have masonry mensas.

            The main altar, on the east wall of the church, is dedicated to the patron saint, St Michael.  It is made of wood, and is raised above floor level by two wooden steps covered by a hand-woven Bosnian ćilim (kilim carpet).  The altar consists of a frame set on two painted pillars decorated with floral motifs.  The pedestal of the frame consists of a beam, also painted and decorated with floral motifs.  A wooden cross is fixed at the centre of the upper horizontal beam.

Beneath the cross, at the centre of the frame, is a late baroque Venetian sculpture of St Michael, made of painted wood, dating from the eighteenth century, with a height of 91 cm.  St Michael holds a flaming sword in his right hand and a pair of scales in his left.

            To his right, two paintings terminating in arches form a diptych.  St Peter stands next to St Michael, with St Gregory the Great next to St Peter.  To the left of St Michael another diptych shows St Francis and St Nicholas.

            The paintings are in oil on wooden boards and date from about the seventeenth century.  They were probably acquired in Dubrovnik.

            The side altar stands against the north wall of the church, and is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, hence it is known as «Gospin oltar» - Our Lady's Altar.  It is raised by one step above the floor of the church.

            The baroque statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was acquired in Venice in the eighteenth century.  It stands 125 cm in height.

            On the north wall to the right of the main altar is a cupboard where the church vessels are kept, which was put in the church in 1830.  It measures 128 x 115 cm and is the work of an unknown local craftsman.

            The vault of the church is decorated with floral motifs extending in bands of equal width east-west to the centre of the church, i.e. to the point where the chancel begins.  The decoration was added in March 1882 by «one Stjepan, an Orthodox Christian from Srijem, hired by fra Ivan Kljajić», (Gavran, 1998, 28).

            Six lamps are attached to the vault of the church, the work of local craftsmen using the technique of casting and hammering. The lamps are 75 cm high including their chains.

            The old burial ground, which formerly had stone crosses, stands right next to the church.  In the twentieth century the stone crosses were replaced by cast iron crosses that were easily breakable and have disappeared over time.

            Taken as a whole, the church is seen to extend horizontally, contrary to the old houses of Vareš.

New church of St Michael

            This church was made in two stages.  Fr. Ignacije Gavran calls the first church Kljaić's and the second, later one, Ikić's.

            It is impossible fully to reconstruct the appearance of Kljaić's church, given that only very few documents have survived.  It was a rectangular building measuring 35 x 18 metres, with a height to the roof ridge of 18 metres.  The bell tower, which was built onto the front facade (like that of St John's church in Podmilačje), was approximately 27 metres tall.  Seen from the south, the front facade had a large ground floor portal, the only entrance to the church.  Above the portal was a large window, with the upper side rounded, and to the side another two, somewhat lower and narrower.  The bell tower, which had two windows on each of its four sides and a polygonal hipped roof, rose close to the gable.  The apse of the church was polygonal on the exterior and semicircular on the interior, with a diameter of approx. 7.5 metres.  The church roof was clad with shingles, and had three dormer windows on each side.  The side walls each had two rows of five round-arched windows.

             «Looking at the building from the outside, one has the impression that it is a single-nave structure without a vault, but in the interior things are different.  The expanse between the side walls (16.00 metres) was too wide for an unsupported single span ceiling, so that it may be assumed that there were pillars and round arches within the church, dividing it into a nave and two aisles.  It is not known what the ceiling was like, but it may be assumed, bearing in mind the modest abilities of the builders of the date, that it was a flat wooden ceiling». (Fra Ignacije Gavran, 1998,)

            The sanctuary of the church occupied the first section of the nave and was very austere.  Behind the last two pairs of pillars in front of the apse was a partition wall that partly concealed the apse.  Alongside this partition wall, at the centre of the church, stood the main altar, with two doors to the side leading into the apse.  The apse was thus turned into a baptistery.  In front of the left hand altar, in the aisle, was a pulpit with a simple rectangular lectern.  The altar and communion railings were simple and very modestly decorated.

            After «Kljajić's church» was completed, it was painted by Marco Antonini, who painted the walls greenish yellow, the capitals and cornice white, and the roof blue.  He divided the roof and the vaults of the side chapels diagonally into four triangles.  On the triumphal arch he painted a medallion with the four evangelists and two larger paintings with images of saints, patron saints of the third order: St Elzearia and St Elizabeth.  He also painted a saint in a medallion in each of the remaining arches to right and left.  In the sanctuary, he painted Elijah in the chariot of fire on the left and a scene with St George slaying the dragon on the right.

            Before the consecration of the church in 1906 the then chief parish priest procured the main altar dedicated to St Michael, a wooden altar of Tyrolean manufacture, which was set on the north of the church and raised above floor level by three wooden steps.  On the base of the altar table are four sculptures of the four evangelists, with a cross between them.  Above the table, to the left front is Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and to the right front Melchisedek offering bread and wine.  At centre front is a tabernacle in the form of a small two-storey house, with space for a ciborium in the lower storey and for a monstrance in the upper.  The main part of the altar retable is divided into three niches.  The central niche is dedicated to St Michael, who is shown killing a dragon with his right hand and holding a pair of scales in his left.  St Beatus stands in the left hand niche and St Stephen in the right hand one.  The retable terminates in the usual representation of a tower and various decorative elements.

            The altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the left of the sanctuary, and that dedicated to St Anthony, to the right, are very similar to the main altar.  Both are wooden altars of Tyrolean manufacture.

            The wooden pulpit, also Tyrolean, stands on the west side of the church, alongside the pilaster separating the second section of the church from the third.  It resembles the altars, differing in that the figures of famous Franciscan preachers on the octagonal lectern are painted, not carved in relief.

            Among the art works in the church, fourteen reliefs of the Way of the Cross are of particular note.

            The church had four bells, but three were removed during World War I.

            The architect Josip Vancaš adapted Kljaić's church, giving it a more monumental exterior appearance.  The church was considerably increased in size and acquired a single large interior space, rhythmically harmonious.  The true creator of this church is thus Josip Vancaš, who gave it its characteristic features both outside and in (Fra Ignacije Gavran, 1998, pp. 41 – 42).

            The church was extended at the front end by another section, adding 5.5 metres to its length.  Here a portal and two matching towers were built, with between them the front facade divided horizontally into ground, middle and upper sections.  The Romanesque-style portal, narrowing towards the inside, is set in the ground floor section.  It has no figures or decoration of any kind, and terminates in a small gable.  The mid section of the front facade has a circular rosette of eight semicircular petals and a central roundel.  To the left and right of the rosette is a round-arched window.  Above the rosette, in the gable, is a trifora with a somewhat taller central window.  The front facade is framed by square towers measuring 5.5 x 5.5 metres, with a height of about 40 metres.  The towers are also horizontally divided into six storeys with apertures gradually increasing in size from the ground up – first a single window, with biforas on the penultimate storey and triforas on the topmost storey.  The windows are set on all four sides of the towers.  The towers have polygonal roofs clad with copper sheeting.  All four roof pitches have small triangular windows.  The entire front facade is new and abuts onto the existing walls of the church.  Alterations are also visible to the sides of the building, giving it the appearance of an aisled church (with a nave and two aisles).    The aisles have retained their original appearance to the top of the ground floor level – with five single-aperture round-arched windows.  This part terminates in a narrow roof, with the wall continuing with five biforas lacking a common arch.  To the west, alongside the apse, a small sacristy was built on, of approx. 12 sq.m., and the apse itself is used as the sanctuary.  In the third section, a side door to the church was added on the east side (Fra Ignacije Gavran, 1998, pp. 41,42,43).

            The alterations are still more noticeable in the interior.  Pillars measuring 165 x 60 cm were set alongside the inside of the side walls, with attached pilasters (40 x 20 cm).  The space between these pillars is roofed by a barrel vault.  This has considerably strengthened the entire structure of the building. Vancaš continued the pilasters in front of the pillars, extending them into full round arches linking each pair.  The entire roof structure rests on this structure.  Instead of aisles, this gives the interior recesses between the pillars with a depth of 1.65 metres.

In the 1970s, when the church was renovated, the interior was altered.  The sanctuary was extended into the first section of the nave and paved with greyish and reddish marble slabs at two levels.  A new altar with an ambon with seats for the priest and ministrants and candlestands was set on the higher level.  On the lower, to the east, a font was placed.  The new items on the altar were made of white marble.

            Antonini's wall decorations were also removed.  Most of the wall area was painted pale yellow, the chapels were painted a darker shade of yellow, and the pilasters, capitals and chancel railing were painted white.  The ceiling was painted dark red and the apse pale green.  The pilasters and arches were decorated with floral motifs.

            In the nave of the church, ten stained glass windows were installed in the lower row of windows.  The two windows and rosette on the front facade were also fitted with stained glass.  The sketches for the stained glass windows were made by Josip Bifel, the glass was bought in Germany, and the stained glass windows were made in Ilić's workshop in Zagreb.

            The stained glass windows in the nave of the church evoke scenes from the life of Christ, with the east wall showing:

1.       the Annunciation

2.       the Nativity

3.       the Lamb of God with books from the Apocalypse

4.       the boy Jesus in the Temple

5.       the baptism of Christ

            The stained glass windows of the west wall show:

1.       healing the blind

2.       Mater dolorosa with the dead Christ

3.       the Resurrection

4.       the miraculous draught of fishes

5.       descent of the Holy Spirit

            The stained glass windows on the front facade of the church show:

1.       St Francis

2.       St. Barbara

3.       the rosette, which is about 4 m wide, has an abstract representation of the crown of thorns adorned with roses


3. Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. UP I 637-3/62 the building was placed under state protection and entered in the heritage register under serial no. 145.

            The regional plan for  Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the parish church of St Michael in Vareš as a category I building.  The same regional plan listed the urban ensemble of Vareš (church and remains of the old urban structure) as a category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works:

Old church:

            For the first 170 years of the old church's existencce there were no essential changes.  The roof cladding was frequently replaced, because the wooden shingles became rotten every thirty years.  Following flooding to the building in 1915 and 1942, the floor and beams were damaged.  The fittings were in poor condition due to deterioration and inadequate maintenance.

In 1990 and 1991 conservation and restoration works were carried out on the building to a design project and under the supervision of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH.  The renovations related to the roof (beams and planks), the vault (from which some of the planks had already fallen), the floor and the wooden parts of the church.  A wooden bell tower was also erected to the west of the church and a wooden fence was erected around the building. Prior to the repairs to the building, archaeological excavations were carried out on sixteen of the tombs in the floor of the church.  In some of these several skeletons were found.

            At this time the sculptures on the altars dedicated to St Michael and to the  Blessed Virgin Mary were cleaned, as were the four paintings of St Peter, St Gregory the Great, St Francis and St Nicholas.

            Following the 1992-1995 war, the roof of the church was repaired with copper sheeting laid as damp proofing with wooden shingles over.

New church:

            The sheet metal roof cladding has frequently been replaced and painted and the guttering replaced.

            In 1927 the church was wired for electricity, and in 1967 pews were acquired.

            In 1977 the parish priest, Fr. Leopold Rochems, carried out a number of works on the building, both structural repairs and work on the interior decorations.  These included:

Ÿ         repairs to cracks in the walls, with the masonry crown of the walls fitted with a reinforced concrete band

Ÿ         new reinforced concrete beams with aerated concrete infill replaced the wooden ceiling with its 72 wooden beams

Ÿ         the floor of the chancel was replaced by reinforced concrete

Ÿ         copper sheeting replaced the galvanized iron on the roof of the church and bell towers, windows and cornices

Ÿ         the wooden frames and surrounds of the windows were replaced by metal ones

Ÿ         in the interior of the church, new electric lighting and acoustics were installed

Ÿ         the building was fitted with central heating

Ÿ         the sanctuary was extended into the first section of the nave and covered with marble on two levels, with a new altar on the upper and a font on the lower

Ÿ         Antonini's painted decorations were removed and the walls painted in pale yellow, dark yellow and dark red

Ÿ         stained glass windows were added to the windows and portal

Ÿ         ceiling light fittings were added


5. Current condition of the property

Old church:

            At an on-site inspection in April 2003 the following was ascertained:          

Ÿ         the old church in Vareš is in good structural condition, other than some cracks on the wall to the right of the south entrance door

Ÿ         minor capillary damp was observed on the building, which for now does not pose a threat to the building

Ÿ         the roof of the building is in good condition

New church:

            The new church is in good structural condition.  During the 1992-1995 war it took a hit from a shell which damaged the roof on the eastern side and penetrated the roof above the first section of the building.  The damage was repaired but is still visible.


            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. i. quality of workmanship

C.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D.  Clarity

D.iii. work of a major artist or builder

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

E.  Symbolic value

E.ii. religious 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

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Site plan



            During the procedure to designate the Church of  St Michael in Vareš as a national monument of BiH, the following works were consulted:


Bejtić, Alija, Historijsko građevni razvoj Vareša (Historical building development of Vareš), Sarajevo 1958


Gavran fra Ignacije, Župna crkva u Varešu (The parish church in Vareš), Sarajevo 1998


Jelenić, J., Ljetopis Franjevačkoga samostana u Kraljevoj Sutjesci (Chronicle of the Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska), Journal of the National Museum 39/1927, Sarajevo, 1927


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Vareš kao glavno središte gvozdenog obrta u BiH (Vareš as the main iron working centre in BiH), Journal of the National Museum of BiH 54/1942


Old, 'Kljajić' and the new church in VarešOld church from 16th centuryPlan and cross section of the Old churchFacades of the Old church
Interior of the Old churchWooden barrel vault and altar in Old churchPaintings on the vault of the churchDetail of the altar - St. Mihovil
Churh in Vareš, photo from 1891Interior of the 'Kljajić' churchPlans of the 'Kljajić' and the New churchNew church
Rosette on the New churchInterior of the New churchInterior, entranceArches and ceiling
Altar of St AnthonyStained glass window   

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