Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Provisional List

About the Provisional List

List of Petitions for Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Heritage at Risk

60th session - Decisions

Mara Popović house, the historic building

gallery back

Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 7 to 11 October 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The historic building of the Mara Popović house in Gračanica is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 2874 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. no. 5/5 old survey, Land Registry entry no. 95, cadastral municipality Gračanica, Gračanica Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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




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

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for 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.




            To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following measures are hereby stipulated:

Ÿ          all works are prohibited other than conservation, repair and restoration works carried out to a design project approved by the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

Ÿ          the courtyard of the building shall be fenced

Ÿ          the building shall be restored to use for cultural purposes (a museum of ethnology)

Ÿ          the protection of the surrounding urban area shall be defined by the Gračanica town plan, and no alterations to the landscape/townscape shall be permitted in that zone.




            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.


Chair of the Commission 

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No: 06-6-94/03-1                                                               

7 October 2003



E l u c i d a t i o n




            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  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 18 December 2002 the  Commission received a petition from Gračanica  Municipality.

            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 (Gračanica Municipality: copy of cadastral plan, copy of land registry entry, copy of holdings list)

Ÿ          Design plan for the building of the Mara Popović House in Gračanica dating from 1971 drawn up by the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of BiH in accordance with which the building was repaired in 1989

Ÿ          Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision

Ÿ          The current condition of the property


            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 Mara Popović house is in Srpska varoš street no. 58 in Gračanica on c.p.no. 2874 (new survey) and c.p. no. 5/7 (old survey), c.m.. Gračanica, state-owned with the Gračanica Municipality enjoying the right of use, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gračanica Muniicipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, land registry entry no. 4142, no. on list of title 423.

            The detailed plan of Gračanica drawn up by the Austro-Hungarian authorities in 1894 shows that the settlement extends to the right and left of Sokoluša from north to south or north to south-west. On the left of Sokoluša (the Gračanica river) is Srpska varoš.

Historical information

            The settlement of Gračanica originated in mediaeval times close to an iron mine.  In 1463 Gračanica came under Ottoman rule for the first time, only to come under Hungarian rule the following year, 1464, and under Ottoman rule again in 1520.  It became the centre of a large kadılık in 1572, extending from the river Spreča to the river Sava and including the settlements of Srebrenik, Gradačac, Orašje, Modriča and Šamac.  With effect from 1600 it became a major trade and artisanal centre in Bosnia with a čaršija and at least eight mahalas and the same number of mosques.

            The Gračanica čaršija began to develop in its present site with its current urban features after 1697 when the Austrian army, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, laid Gračanica waste, burning it to the ground, during their campaign in the Bosnia valley, along with many other towns and settlements (Dobor, Doboj, Maglaj and Sarajevo).  This event was a turning point in the spatial and urban development of the kasaba (town) of Gračanica and its čaršija; it acquired the features it has retained, in essence, to the present day.

            Gračanica was the only urban settlement in these parts.  It lay on the valley slopes of the Gračanica river.  By 1548 Gračanica had evolved into an important town with as many inhabitants as Lower Tuzla.  Gračanica's sudden urban and demographic development in the sixteenth century was the result of the site being turned into a regular artisanal workshop for the military.  By the early seventeenth century eight Muslim mahalas had developed there, forming the town, with a mixed population – half Muslim and half Christian – living in the ninth mahala on the outskirts.

            As time passed, Gračanica developed to expand on both sides of the Gračanica-Soko river and grew into a sizeable settlement with elevent mosques, two madrassas, a number of maktabs, a public fountain and a library (Mujezinović, 1977, p. 185).

            The principal urban buildings, mainly stone-built, in the Gračanica čaršija were erected by Ahmed-paša, who settled there following the fall of Buda in 1686, hence his nickname of Budimlija. His name is linked with the building of the čaršija mosque, clock tower and hammam. In the great fire that swept through the čaršija in 1812 the clock tower was badly damaged and the hammam burned down.  The clock tower was later renovated and repaired. There were several different buildings around the clock tower, merchants' and artisans' workshops and single-storey wooden buildings with smaller shops and workshops

            In the early eighteenth century the Gradačac captaincy was established.

            The residential quarters were of oriental type, and the houses were arrayed in the mahalas along narrow, curving streets.  All the houses other than those in the čaršija were surrounded by high fences, and all had spacious gardens and courtyards.

            In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the most common type of house in Gračanica was the central Bosnian house with an upper floor čardak, or enclosed balcony. This type most closely resembles what Jovan Cvijić calls the Turkish-Oriental house, noting that it was particularly prevalent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The old house of Mara Popović was built in 1840 (Kulenović, 1994, p. 126).  Tradition recounts that this Bosnian house was built by Mara Popović's father in law, and that she spent her entire life there.  It subsequently changed hands a number of times, finally passing into the ownership of the municipality.


2. Description of the monument

            The old house of Mara Popović is of the Gračanica dimalučara-čardaklija type, with a rectangular ground plan and dimensions of 5.8 x 9.75 m.  The basement is under part of the ground floor, with the rest of the ground floor resting on a base of quarry stone and roughly dressed stone with an average diametre of 70 cm.  The building has a wooden frame post-and-pan structure.  The load-bearing elements of the walls are wooden beams and posts with unbaked brick infill on the ground floor, and wattle and daub on the upper floor.  The upper floor projects out from the ground floor by 30 cm on all sides.  The walls of the ground floor are about 30 cm thick and those of the first floor are 14 cm thick.  Entering the house from the courtyard, one first finds oneself in an open porch or hajat, from which one enters the kuća (kitchen, literally house) in the centre of the ground floor.  The kuća rises through both ground and first floor and is open to the attic space.  It contains a low, wide hearth (217 x 120 x 20 cm), built of stamped earth.  From the kuća one enters the other ground floor rooms: a room, a small room and a  ćirel. There is also a small door in the kuća leading to the business quarters of the courtyard.

            In the large room, which is floored and ceilinged, is a furuna, an earthenware stove with concave pots.  Here food was prepared, and it also heated the čardak on the first floor.  A gap was left for it to reach the floor of the upper floor rooms.  The big room was carpeted with kilims and sheets, and there were benches beneath the windows with padded seat cushions and cushions.  The occupants slept on woollen mattresses.

            In the small room, which was also floored and ceilinged with wooden šašavac wedges, there was another earthenware stove.  The ćirel was used as a kitchen and held various earthenware and copper dishes.

            On the upper floor there were a pričardak, čardačić (small balcony) and two čardaks.  The upper floor was reached from the ground floor by a steep wooden staircase (Kulenović,1994, pp. 125-128).

            The windows were single casement, with bars on the ground floor. The hipped roof was wooden raftered and had a pitch of 45 degrees; it was clad with shingles.


3. Legal status to date

            In the proceedings prior to the enactment of a final decision to designate the property as a National Monument, documents relating to the protection of the property were inspecting, and the following was ascertained:

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 652/53 of 30 July 1953 in Sarajevo, Mara Popović house in Gračanica was placed under the protection of the state.

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 02-779-3 of 18 April 1962 the Mara Popović house in Gračanica was entered in the Register of immovable property under serial no. 93.

            In the Regional Plan for  Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2000 the urban ensemble of Gračanica (remains of the old urban structure) was listed as a Category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

            In 1989 the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of SRBiH carried out repairs to the building according to the project documentation for the Mara Popović house in Gračanica dating from 1971 which the Institute had drawn up.  During the course of these repairs, the dilapidated wooden structure of the walls, ceilings and roof were replaced, the facade of the building was repaired, and the roof clad with shingles.


5. Current condition of the property

            Following its restoration in 1989 the building was turned into a museum of ethnology.  During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the facade and roof of the building were damaged.

            The building is being used to house refugees, the procedure to resolve whose status and find accommodation for them so that the municipality can once again use the building is currently under way.  These new tenants have completely altered the former appearance and arrangement of the rooms inside the building.

            The building needs to be restored to cultural use.




            The old  house of  Mare Popović in Gračanica is a valuable example of Ottoman residential architecture and one of the few monuments of its kind in these parts to have survived to the present day.

            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

            D. Clarity

                        D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

            E. Symbolic value

                        E.iii. traditional value

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

            F. Townscape/ Landscape value

                        F.ii. meaning in the townscape

            G. Authenticity

                        G.i. form and design

                        G.v. location and setting

            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 historic building of the Mara Popović house as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


-         Kulenović, Dr. Salih, Gračanica i okolina, Antropogeografske i etnološke odlike (Gračanica and environs: Anthropogeographical and ethnological features), Tuzla, Museum of Eastern Bosnia, DD “GRIN” Gračanica, 1995

-         Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, kn. 2, Istočna I centralna Bosna (Islamic Epigraphics of BiH, Vol 2, Eastern and Central Bosnia), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1997

Mara Popović houseMara Popović house, Photo from January 2003Entrance facade of the Mara Popović house
View at the Mara Popović house in winter and summer Interior - roomMara Popović house, detail - doksatCorner of the Mara Popović house
Mara Popović house, photo from 1971   

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