Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj, the historic building

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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 6 to 11 December 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The historic building of the Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj near Mostar is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 1345, Land Registry entry no. 1053, title sheet no. 633, cadastral municipality Blagaj, city of Mostar, urban area Southeast,  Federation of BiH, 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 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.




            Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 of this Decision.

            The following measures shall be carried out:

• conduct research works and works of structural repair and conservation, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            For the purpose of protecting the monument from further deterioration, the following measures are hereby stipulated:

1. clear the building of refuse, rubble and soil

2. clear the walls of vegetation that poses a threat to the structure of the monument

3. conduct a structural analysis of the loadbearing structure of the remains of the dome and walls

4. remove parts of the structure that the analysis has incontrovertibly shown to be in danger of collapsing

5. survey, conserve and display in appropriate manner the structures that are removed

6. repair and structural consolidation of the remains of the dome and walls

7. conservation of the existing condition

8. protect the walls and remains of the dome from the effects of the elements

9. the dumping of waste is prohibited

• No works that could have the effect of altering the site, or the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not designed solely for the protection and display of the National Monument shall be permitted

• the plots where the National Monument stands shall be set in order on the basis of an appropriate design project, making good the access path, landscaping etc

• the National Monument shall be floodlit on the basis of an appropriate design project and ensure that the lighting brings out the value of the monument,

• missing parts of the building may be reconstructed in their original form, of the same size, using the same or the same type of materials and the same building techniques wherever possible, based on documentation on its original form,

• the reconstructed parts shall be dealt with as part of the project in such a way as to ensure that they are recognizable

• conduct structural consolidation of the walls on the basis of previous survey and structural analysis

• fragments of stone from the building that are on the site or that have been taken down because they are at risk of collapsing of their own according during the previous stage of protection from further deterioration shall be recorded, conserved and rebuilt into the building

• it is prteferable that the building be restored it its original use, or use as similar as possible to the original

• the building may be used for cultural and educational purposes or traditional crafts that do not pollute the environment, in a way that will not jeopardize the value of the monument




            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 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

Ljiljana Ševo

No: 08.1-6-1029/03-6

6 December 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  (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.

           At a session held on 14 July 2000 the Commission issued a Decision to add the Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj near Mostar to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 419.

            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:

• 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, etc.

• Documentation on the location of the property

• Documentation on the current owner and user of the property

• 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 approach to the Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj near Mostar is from the south-east fork of the Mostar-Blagaj road, leading to the Karađoz-beg bridge on the river Buna.  The building stands hard by the river Buna, about twenty metres north-east of the Karađoz-beg bridge, on a site comprising c.p. 1348, Land Registry entry no. 1053, title sheet no. 633, c.m. Blagaj, Municipality Mostar Southeast, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The approach to the building is from the west. The long axis of the building lies east-west, parallel with the river Buna.

Historical information

            Under Ahmed's command, the Ottoman army occupied Blagaj after 3 June 1466 (Šabanović, 1982, 44).  Northern Herzegovina was conquered at the same time.

            When they occupied Blagaj, the Ottomans found no substantial settlement outside the fortress wall.  The 1477 census refers to it as a village with a few houses in which the garrison was housed.  The area outside the walls was then inhabited by six households or about thirty people. Since the old fort was of no strategic importance, over time the number of inhabitants in the area outside the walls increased; by the 17th century Blagaj had 170 houses.  Passing through Blagaj in 1664, Evliya Çelebi found five mahalas with 450 houses (Çelebi, 1996, 459). In 1737 a ćefilema (standing surety) was carried out in four of Blagaj's mahalas, when 136 men fit to take up arms were registered, 14 of whom were Orthodox Christians.  The assumption is that these mahalas were inhabited by 130 households with almost 650 inhabitants.

            The new settlement of Blagaj grew up along three water courses: Suhi potok in Harman, Suhi potok in Galičići, and the corridor of the river Buna, or the road above it.  As Çelebi had already noted, five mahalas were formed: Carska, Hasan-aga or Donja mahala, Dol, Bunsko and Galičići, with the mahalas of Podgrađe, Kosor and the fortress treated as separate territorial units (Hasandedić, 1997, 15).

            The čaršija, the trade and crafts centre of the settlement, grew up in Carska mahala, in the centre of the settlement.  In the late 16th century the hamam was built in the same mahala, by the bank of the river Buna.

            Religious sentiment was one of the influences on the evolution of architecture.  Muslims are required not only to perform their daily ritual ablutions (abdest) but also to have a complete bath at least once a week.  For this purpose, every Muslim home had a bathroom, and almost every settlement had a public bath or hamam. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, hahams were built as the public endowments of a vakif or legator; the way they were to be used and managed and the use of the revenue they generated were stipulated by the vakufnama or deed of endowment.

The Karađoz-beg hamam was built towards the end of the 16th century, somewhat later than 1578, using funds from Karađoz-beg's vakuf. In ground-plan, it belonged to the type of hamam known as a double hamam or čiftehamam.  It was abandoned after the plague ravaged the area in 1814 (H. Kreševljaković, Banje u BiH, p. 101)

            Like all vakuf buildings, hamams too were rented out each year by public tender.  Each hamamdžija had his own furniture, and the vakuf was responsible for carrying out all repairs.

            The staff of the hamam consisted of the hamamdžija (manager of the baths and treasurer), peštemaljdžija (the person who took care of the things needed for bathing), tallak (a person whose main job was massaging, but also bathing and drying visitors if they requested), ćulhandžija (stoker in the hamam) and kafedžija (the person who made coffee and prepared the nargiles).

Information on the vakif, Zaim hajji Mehmed Karađoz-beg

            Zaim hajji Mehmed-beg was a native of Bijelo Polje, 12 km north of Mostar, and was known in Mostar as Karađoz-beg.  His vakufnama reveals that he had three sons, and the inscription on his mosque that he was the brother of the Grand Vezir Rustem pasha and of the governor of Herzegovina Sinan pasha, who governed Herzegovina from 1549 to 1574. Karađoz-beg died in Mostar c. 1564 where he is buried in the harem of his endowment, the Karadžoz-beg mosque.

            Karađoz-beg was the greatest benefactor not only in Mostar but in the whole of Herzegovina.  His endowment included a mosque, medresa, mekteb, imaret, musafirhana and han in Mostar; a bridge, mekteb and han in Konjic; a mekteb and han in Potoci near Mostar; the bridge over the Buna and two bridges in Lištica; and a han in Čičevo.  Later the hamam was built in Blagaj near Mostar using funds from this vakuf.

            To maintain his endowments, Karađoz-beg also bequeathed 42 shops in the Mostar čaršija, 16 tabhanas (tannery workshops) near the imaret, 14 mills and four stamping mills (village of Kešpolje and source of the Buna), some land and 300.000 Ottoman dirhams (Hasandedić, Mostarski vakifi i njihovi vakufi 2000, pp. 13-14)


2. Description of the property

            The form and location of Bosnian hamams in the layout of the towns is associated with the influence of Turkish hamams, brought to Bosnia by the Ottomans.  In Anatolia in particular, Turkish bathing customs encountered those of Rome and Byzantium and their local Anatolian variants.  The Islamic precepts relating to the ritual washing of the body were also crucial in determining the layout of hamams.  This form and function acquired its own local expression in Bosnia, too.

            The hamam was much more than just a place to take a bath.  It was a social centre – a place where people of all social backgrounds and ages, and of both sexes, came for the same reason and where they received the same treatment; where, after a time in the steam room, massage, scraping, bathing and perfuming themselves (men with musk, women with ambergris), they would sit together in the rest area and sip a hot drink.  From the point of view of the individual, the hamam was a family place throughout life, from earliest childhood to the very end.

            The basic conditions for the operation of a hamam was to ensure a supply of water and fire.  All hamams are massive, very solidly built of stone.  The interior of the hamam was frequently decorated, and the building would be roofed with a main and smaller domes, giving them a monumental exterior appearance.

            Typologically, depending on their ground plan and spatial treatment, hamams are classed as tek-hamam (single hamam) or čifte-hamam (double hamam).  Women could visit a tek-hamam during the day, and men early in the morning or in the evening. A čifte-hamam had completely separate premises for men and for women.  Some baths in Bosnia and Herzegovina were still more complex, with not only men's and women's facilities, but also a section for non-Muslims – for example, the Gazi Husrevbeg hamam in Sarajevo, which had a section for Jewish ritual ablutions. 

            Hamams had floors of large stone slabs, and roofs consisting of domes or barrel vaults constructed of tufa, with lead cladding.  The vaults and domes were pierced with small windows, usually star-shaped and arranged in rows, sealed with a thick, round, markedly projecting glass pane (oeil de boeuf or bull's eye).

            The principal materials used to build a hamam were stone and tufa, with lime mixed with goat hair used as mortar.  The walls were from 70 to 155 cm thick, with the outside walls always somewhat thicker than the inside.

            Each hamam had at least three areas: the šadrvan (apodyterium) which was used as a waiting area and cloakroom and where tea or coffee was usually served; the kapaluk or tepidarium for washing with soap and water, and for resting after bathing; and the halvat or caldarium, for steaming. In addition, each hamam had two additional premises, the hazna, or water cauldron, and the ćulhan or furnace-room,  and a lavatory or privy.

            The šadrvan was the first area entered by a visitor to the baths. It acquired its name from the fountain or šadrvan  in the centre of the room.  The craftsmanship and beauty of the fountain and the decorations on the walls and dome made the šadrvan the most typical area of the hamam. In ground plan it was square, with a domed roof at the centre of which there was a window to let in the light. There were no other apertures in the walls other than the door; light entered only from above, in order to avoid drafts. There were kafazi or “loggias” along the walls, resembling curtained-off partitions, with a gallery above. Visitors would undress in the kafazi and rest on the gallery after bathing.  In some hamams the waiting room had no fountain or kafazi, but instead had minderluks (built-in benches) up to 2 m wide along the walls.

            The kapaluk was the next room after the šadrvan, and was used for resting after bathing, and as a cloakroom during the cold winter months. In ground plan it was rectangular, with a barrel vaulted roof. There were wide benches along the walls.

            In most hamams, the kapaluk led into a mejdan or antechamber to the halvat.  The mejdan was square in ground plan, with a domed roof.  An area in the corner of the mejdan separated off by a wooden partition, known as the taršhana, was used for depilation before bathing. There was also a sofa or podium in the mejdan, where staff would massage visitors.

            The mejdan, or in smaller hamams, the kapaluk, led into the halvat, which resembled the mejdan in appearance but served a different purpose – it was the room used for bathing.  There were sofas or podiums in two or three corners of the halvat, 30-40 cm high and square in shape, where people sat or reclined while steaming.  The hamam baths were here.  There was a kurna between each two podiums – a stone trough with a hemispherical hollow, with no hole to let the water out.  There were two brass taps above each kurna.  Hot water ran into a copper vessel (susak), which was usually richly decorated.  The water was poured onto the heated slabs of the caldarium, producing steam.  Depending on the shape of the halvat and position of the podiums, it could have a maximum of three podiums and two kurnas.

            The halvat or mejdan of some hamams also had a Jewish mikva, a small pool for Jewish ritual bathing.

            As one went from the šadravan through the kapaluk and mejdan the temperature in the hamam rose until in the halvat, the last room for visitors, it reached a maximum.

            These areas of the hamam were built on tufa pillars, for beneath all of them except the šadrvan there was a basement-like area.  In the halvat and the šadrvan the floor sloped gently to one side to allow dirty water to run off, particularly from the halvat, and thence down a gutter cut into the floor slabs, through the kapaluk into the privy.

            The rooms of the hamam had wooden doors, all single except the main door.  They were 80-90 cm wide and up to 180 cm high.  Above the entrance door, a heavy nail was hammered into the wall from which a wooden block (tomruk) hung on a rope; on entering, the door needed to be pushed hard, and the upper edge would catch on the rope, so that when the door opened, the block would be forced upwards, and once one was through the door, the block would fall back to its normal position, hitting the door and closing it.

            The hazna was the part of the hamam building dug into the ground.  Here a stove was dug into the ground; it was fed from the ćulhan.  Above the stove was a copper cauldron to which water was piped.  The firewood was fed in from the ćulhan, which consisted of two parts: the hypocaustum and the praefurnium. The praefurnium was the antechamber to the ćulhan, linking it to the hazna, and resembled the kapaluk within.  Most of this antechamber was dug into the ground and was at the same level as the floor of the hypocaustum, the basement areas of the hamam, with the entrance below the kazna in the hazna.  The hypocaustum had iron doors.  After loading the firewood, the doors would be closed and padlocked.  The furnace was usually stoked twice a day, in the morning and early evening.

            The water for the hamam was brought straight from the river, through clay or wooden pipes, by constructing a separate waterpipe for the hamam.  If this was not possible, a wheel was used of the kind used by gardeners to irrigate gardens during droughts. 

            Ducts in the wall and beneath the floor led hot air from the dugout section into the caldarium and other rooms.

            Each hamam also had a sizeable courtyard where there were woodsheds. (Hamdija Kreševljaković, 1991, pp. 20-23).

            Although the surviving remains of the Karađoz-beg hamam suggest that it was of the tek-hamam or single hamam type, Hamdija Kreševljaković writes that in ground-plan it was of the double hama (čiftehamami) type (H. Kreševljaković, Banje u BiH, p. 101).

            The Karađozbeg hamam in Blagaj was paved with large slabs and roofed with domes and barrel vaults.

            According to documentation from Alija Bejtić and Hamdija Krešavljaković, who found only one part of the hamam during their studies in the 1930 and 50s, this part consisted of:

            1. Šadrvan (the waiting room and cloakroom – apodyterium – with a fountain in the centre). According to available drawings of the hamam in Blagaj (Alija Bejtić, Spomenici osmanlijske arhitekture u BiH)  the hamam in Blagaj did not have a fountain in the centre. The ground plan of the šadrvan was a square measuring 4 x 4 m, with walls 70cm thick, and the roof was domed, with a central opening to let in the light.  The height of this room to the crown of the dome was about 4.5 m.  As well as the door, there was a window on the side wall looking onto the river Buna.  There were minderluks or benches up to two metres wide along the side walls of the šadrvan.

            2. Kapaluk (the warm room or tepidarium), which was the next room after the šadrvan.  The ground plan of the kapalak was a rectangle measuring 1.5 x 2.1 m, with walls 70 cm thick, roofed by a barrel vault about 3 m high. The temperature in this room was higher than that in the šadrvan. There was a wide stone bench along one of the side walls. The kapaluk was used in winter for undressing, and was otherwise used for resting after bathing and steaming. There was a door to two toilets in the other side wall of the kapaluk.  It was usual in double hamams for the wastepipes from the toilets in both sections to lead into a single pit behind the hamam with a pipe leading it beyond; the pit was called džehenemluk and the wastepipe džeriz.

            3. Halvat – the caldarium for bathing.  In the hamam in Blagaj there was no mejdan or antechamber to the halvat as there was in larger hamams.  The halvat was a square room measuring 2.3 x 2.1, with walls 70 cm thick, roofed with a dome about 3.5 m high to the crown.  Three corners of the halvat had sofa podiums, 30-40 cm high, of quarter-circle shape, where people sat or reclined while bathing – these were the baths of the hamam.  There was a kurna between each two podiums.  Above the each kurna were two brass taps for hot and cold water.  In the halvat of the hamam in Blagaj there were three podiums and two kurnas. 

            4. Hazna (water reservoir).  Behind the halvat was a room similar to the kapaluk, the hazna, measuring 1.1 x 2.1 m, and about 3 m high, where the water was heated and circulated through pipes set in the walls; the cold water flowed direct from water pipes set along the walls. In the centre of the hazna was a copper cauldron, set with the base facing the ceiling of the hazna and the opening facing the fire so that the flame was against the interior, not the exterior. The floor of the hazna was at the same height as that of the hamam.  The pipe through which cold water flowed into the hazna reached to just above the cauldron, and the pipe that took hot water from the hazna into the hamam was 100-120 cm above the floor of the hazna, so that there could never be a lack of hot water.  This supply of hot water was called maja.  The hazna could be entered only from the halvat through an iron door which was opened only when someone wanted to take a steam bath or when the hazna needed repairing.

            5. Ćulhan, where the furnace was stoked. Part of the hamam was sunk into the ground, and beneath the entire building except the šadrvan was a basement-like area divided by partition walls in the same way as the areas above – the hypocaustum.  The entrance to the hypocaustum was via an exterior, open stairway, set in an extension to the hamam opposite the hazan, leading first to the praefurnium or antechamber to the ćulhana, the praefurnium. This was roughly square, measuring 2.5 x 2.1 m, with a domed roof.  The height of the ćulhana to the crown of the dome was about 4.5 m. The praefurnium led into the furnace room or ćulhan, which was beneath the hazna,.  Hot air circulated beneath the floor slabs and through quantities of ducts concealed in the walls of the hamam, emerging through small openings like hollow cylinders around the drum of the dome.  The water and the building were heated in this way. 


            The hamam in Blagaj was one of the few hamams to be built by a river from which the water was taken using a wheel or special channel.


3. Legal status to date

            The Regional Plan of BiH to 2000 listed it as a category II monument.

            The historic site of the Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj is on the Provisional List of National Monuments as no. 419.


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works

            There is no information that any conservation or restoration works have been conducted.       


5. Current condition of the property

            The Karađoz-beg hamam was abandoned after the plague in 1814.  During World War II it took a direct hit from a bomb and suffered considerable damage.  Describing the hamam during a visit after World War II, Hamdija Kreševljaković wrote: «Above the halvat of the women's hamam the dome has survived, but the vaults above the other rooms that are still visible (praefurium, hazna, halvat and kapaluk of the men's section) have been destroyed, as has the entire kapaluk in the women's section.  The portico from which the hamam was entered, extending along the entire building facing the river Buna, has also disappeared.  The men's section can now be seen only from a boat.  The floor of the hazna is broken and the hollow space beneath the halvat and kapaluk can be seen.»

            An on site inspection in November 2003 revealed that the šadrvan, kapaluk and halvat of the Karađoz-beg hamam have survived in part.

            All the surviving walls of the building are overgrown with vegetation, and earth has been piled up inside.  All that survives of these rooms are the walls and part of the dome over the šadrvan.  It was impossible to enter the building because of the piles of soil mixed with vegetation and collapsed parts of the building.

            When the water level is high the river Buna reaches to the walls of the hamam.



            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

                        D. Clarity

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

                        F. Townscape/ Landscape value

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

                        G. Authenticity

                                    G.v. location and setting


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the historic building of the Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj near Mostar as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Bejtić, Alija, Spomenici osmanlijske arhitekture u Bosni i Hercegovini, (Monuments of Ottoman architecture in BiH) Supplements for oriental philology and the history of the Yugoslav peoples under Turkish rule, III-IV, 1952-53, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1953.


Hasandedić, Hivzija, Herald of the Supreme Islamic Council in SFRY, Sarajevo, p. 18, 1976.


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Izabrana djela III – banje, vodovodi, hanovi i karavansaraji, (Selected works III – baths, waterpipes, hans and caravanserais) Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1991.


Kreševljaković, Hamdija and Hamdija Kapidžić, «Stari Hercegovački gradovi», (Old towns of Herzegovina) Naše starine no. 2, pp. 9-10, 1954.

Karađoz-beg bridge and hamam in Blagaj on BunaKarađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj, photo from 2003Karađoz-beg hamam in Blagaj, sixties of XX century 

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