Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Tabačka (Tabaćica) mosque in Visoko, 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 Tabačka (Tabačica) mosque in Visoko is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 3454, cadastral municipality Visoko, Visoko Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the mosque building and the burial ground alongside the mosque.

            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. 3454, c.m. Visoko, being the site on which the National Monument stands.

Ÿ  all works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the Ministry of regional planning) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

Ÿ  the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited.


            The following urgent measures are hereby stipulated to preserve the mosque from further deterioration:

Ÿ  conservation, repair and structural consolidation of the walls

Ÿ  protection of the roof and walls of the mosque from external damage


            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for implementing the following measures:

Ÿ  drawing up a restoration project covering all the works on the National Monument

Ÿ  research, preparatory and restoration works on the National Monument must be carried out according to a project approved by the Ministry of regional planning and under the expert supervision 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 Ministry of regional planning, the 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: 08.2-6-801/03-9                                                       

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 in 2000 the Commission issued a Decision to add the Tabačka (Tabačica) to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 764.

            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 mosque stands on the left bank of the Fojnica river, on the former outskirts of the Visoko čaršija, alongside the old tabhana (tannery).  With the development upstream of the Visoko čaršija, as time passed the mosque came to be in the centre of the čaršija.  In the immediate vicinity of the mosque is a newly built bridge over the river.  The National Monument is on a site consisting of c.p. 3454, c.m. Visoko, Land Registry entry no. 1697, Visoko Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Historical information

            Present-day central Visoko dates from the earliest period of Ottoman rule.  There is very little information about this period of history, apart from two Sarajevo deeds of endowment, one dating from 1477 and the other from 1526.  The first refers to Visoko as a village and the second as a town in the Sarajevo nahiye.  This new Visoko owes its existence to the mediaeval fortifications and the settlement that had developed around them (Kreševljaković, 1991, p. 693)

            There are nine old mosques in Visoko, none of which has a surviving chronogram or deed of endowment. All are simple in design, and their founders, when their names are known, were not known figures in the history of these parts, so it is impossible to determine even roughly when they date from.  Of the nine, five have stone minarets and the rest have wooden minarets.  The oldest Visoko mosque is the one in Perutac mahala, built by one Hajji Ibrahim.

            As in Sarajevo, Mostar or Tešanj, so in Visoko, the tanners built themselves a mosque near the tannery.  The first Visoko tannery was very close to the site where the mosque was later built.  The assumption is that this was in the first half of the seventeenth century, at a time when the tanners' craft was developing, the tanners' esnaf (guild) was sufficiently powerful and the artisans had acquired the resources to build the mosque.  The jamaat of this mosque consisted mainly of tanners.  The original mosque was damaged or destroyed several times as time passed, usually by the fires that swept through Visoko in the early eighteenth century or by major floods.  The last floor was in 1871, when the river Fojnica carried away the tannery, pillars and mosque.  After the flood the building was rebuilt in its present form, and maintained by contributions from the tanners.

            The tanners earned their living by tanning leather, and their workshops were known as tabhanas. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there were some fifteen sites where this trade had developed, but it is only in Visoko that it survives un changed (Kreševljaković, 1991, pp. 695 – 697).  The presence of this trade was noted in the first half of the seventeenth century.  Later, as it advanced, the tanners' guild was formed, with a board headed by a master craftsman or ćehaja.  The Visoko tanners also had their own banner with two horse's tails (the symbol of a pasha), indicating that it had a great many members.


2. Description of the property

            The Tabačka mosque belongs to the type of single-space mosque with sofas and wooden minaret.  The ground plan of  the building is roughly 9.00 x 9.00 metres.  It was entirely the work of local craftsmen.  During the latest interventions on the building the final layer of mortar was removed, revealing the inner structure of the wall, the type of material used to build it and the quality of the masonry.  The lower parts of the building were of quarry stone, reaching to half the height of the lower windows, i.e. about 1.5 metres above floor level.  The rest of the walls were of unbaked brick with oak tie beams extending the entire length of the building.  The thickness of the walls averages 90 cm.  On the south-west wall, at the corner where it meets the north-west wall, pipes can be seen that were added during the Austro-Hungarian period; these brought water to a drinking fountain in the exterior wall.  As a result of lack of maintenance, the pipes began to leak and damp affected the wall structure as the tie beams rotted.

            The mosque has a hipped roof clad with tiles.  It was probably formerly clad with shingles, but these were destroyed in one of the many fires that broke out in the Visoko čaršija.  After this the congregation decided to use tiles instead.

            On the main entrance facade there is a wooden portico with sofas and a total of fifteen wooden pillars.  This area measures 9.00 x 4.50 metres.  The apertures of the portico terminate in arches.  Vertically, the portico is divided into two areas, with the terminating arches in the upper area somewhat more freely executed, most nearly approximating to ogee arches.  The curve of the arches is rather less pronounced in the lower section.

            Old photographs show rounded apertures in the facade and portico, which was not enclosed at that time.  In the course of later interventions, the date of which is unknown, the portico was enclosed and the apertures glazed.  In olden times, because of the high cost of glass, these apertures were covered with taut-stretched leather.  Originally the portico was entered from the sides of the building.  Nowadays only the access on the street side has survived, which was later inadequately closed off by a solid wooden door.  There were formerly steps cut from tuff alongside the portico, leading down to the river Fojnica where worshippers performed abdest, the ritual ablutions before prayer.  According to accounts by elderly people in Visoko, these steps used to be roofed over.  The upper part of the portico was used as a maktab and as a place for women to pray, as well as for access to the minaret.

            The interior of the building is entirely of wood other than the mihrab. The mosque had a wooden mahfil resting on two solid wooden pillars with corbels. The floor and ceiling joists are also made of timber.  The floor was formerly strewn with rushes, in which there was always some salt, fallen from the clothes worn by the congregation – the tanners.

            The mosque had a total of sixteen windows set in two rows, eight in each.  The lower window apertures are rectangular, with iron bars on the outside and wooden lattice on the inside.  The upper windows are triangular at the top, but it is not known if this was their original shape or whether it dates from the renovation of the building in 1871.

            The Tabačka mosque has a tall wooden minaret of octagonal section, 15 m. in height from the ridge of the roof.  The šerefe is of regular octagonal cross-section, with eight wooden pillars terminating in large arched apertures.  The parapet on the šerefe is 90 cm in height.  The roof of the minaret is polygonal, with eaves projecting by 35 cm.  The minaret is clad with galvanized iron and is topped with an alem with two pommels.  The barrel of the minaret is clad with pine boards with the joints concealed by laths.

            There is a small harem around the mosque with twenty nišan tombstones dating from the early nineteenth century.  The types represented are aga's, ulema's and dervish's nišans.


3.  Legal status to date

            The Tabačka (Tabačica) mosque in Visoko is on the register of cultural monuments, but the level of protection has never been defined.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 lists the urban complex of the town of Visoko among the most valuable of urban-rural complexes in BiH as a Category III complex.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works:

            The building has been rebuilt several times following the major floods and fires that devastated Visoko.  The most recent great flood was in 1870, when the river Fojnica swept away tghe mosque and the tannery alongside it, following which the mosque was rebuilt in its present form.  There is no information about who conducted the minor interventions that are visible, nor when they were done.  In the portico of the mosque part of the area was turned in an abdesthana (premises for ritual ablutions) with a built in trough and running water.  The šerefe of the minaret was repaired in 1961.  All these interventions were carried out without the supervision of the heritage protection authority.  Following the 1992-1995 war in BiH, when the building was badly damaged, primary repair works were carried out on the roof structure and the south-east wall, which took a direct hit from an artillery projectile.


5. Current condition of the property

            An on-site inspection of the building on 21 May 2003 ascertained the following:

1. private individuals have begun repair works on the Tabačica mosque without technical documentation or the approval of the Federal ministry responsible for regional planning. The building site has been fenced off and scaffolding erected around the building,

2. the roof cladding of the building has been removed in two places with a rough area of 2 sq.m., leading to the risk of precipitation penetrating into the interior of the building and the unbaked brick walls, which could later lead to the collapse of the entire building,

3. two wooden windows have been  taken down from the entrance facade,

4. the wooden mahfil and sofas with access stairway have been dismantled,

5. the entire floor structure has been dismantled,

6. the mortar has been stripped from all the walls in the interior.

            At the time of the visit, the repair works to the building had been suspended by the chief federal buildings inspectorate.



            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

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

F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of group or site

H. Rarity and representativity

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


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the Tabačka (Tabačica) mosque in Visoko as a national monument of BiH,  the following works were consulted:


Bećirbegović, Madžida, Džamije sa drvenom munarom u Bosni i Hercegovini (Mosques with wooden minarets in BiH), Cultural Heritage of BiH, Sarajevo Publishing, 1999, pp. 176-179


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Visoko, 1934


Tabačka mosque in VisokoTabačka mosque, photo from 1970Tabačka mosque, photo from 2003Tabačka mosque and Ruždija
South-east facadeNorth-east facadeMinaretInterior of the mosque
Mihrab and mimberPlan  

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