Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Karađoz-beg bridge 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 structure of the Karađoz-beg bridge in Blagaj is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument stands on the river Buna on part of the site designated as cadastral plot no. 1548/1, Land Registry Entry no. 174, state-owned, cadastral municipality Blagam, city of Mostar, urban area Southeast,  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 maintain and display 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:

            Protection level 1 covers the National Monument and a zone with a radius of 100 m measured from the centre of the bridge.

• Research works are to be carried out and a design project drawn up for the restoration of the bridge, to include the removal or replacement of additions and of materials built into the bridge in the course of inappropriate reconstruction works, and the original structure of the bridge is to be conserved in the proper manner,

• All works are prohibited other than regular maintenance works, making good and display, 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 (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

• Motor vehicle traffic over the bridge is prohibited

• All infrastructure works are prohibited other than in exceptional cases with the approval of the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority

• The dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited.

In order to implement the measures for the protection and display of the bridge the following shall be carried out:

• Draw up a design project to make good the approaches to the bridge and its immediate surroundings – the banks of the river Buna,

• Draw up a design project to floodlight the National Monument in a manner appropriate to the value of the monument and its setting,


            The tarih (chronogram) of the bridge, which is currently in the courtyard of the Sultan Suleyman mosque in Blagaj near Mostar, must be kept in the prescribed place as part 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: 08.1-6-1029/03-7

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 bridge in Blagaj near Mostar to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 416.

            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 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.  Details of the property


            The Karađoz-beg bridge in the town of Blagaj near Mostar spans the river Buna in a north-west/south-east direction and is about 700 m downstream from the source of the river Buna.

            The approach to the Karađoz-beg bridge in Blagaj near Mostar is from the south-east fork of the Mostar-Blagaj road to the river Buna.

            The bridge stands on c.p. 1548/1, Land Registry entry no. 174, cadastral municipality Blagaj, Municipality Mostar Southeast, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            The construction of bridges in the Ottoman Empire was funded by senior state officials or by the state on behalf of the sultan himself.  The sixteenth century saw the most intensive bridge-building activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when 34 bridges were built.  Among the founders of the most important and largest bridges on the Empire's routes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the sixteenth century were Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, his close associate Rustem pasha, Rustem pasha's brother Zaim hajji Mehmed-beg, known as Karađoz-beg; Mehmed-pasha Sokolović, his sister Šemse-kaduna, his close relatives Ferhad-pasha Sokolović, Kara-Mustafa-pasha Sokolović, and Sinan-beg Boljanić.

            Private citizens whose wealth was sufficient were also known to build or restore bridges.

The maintenance of bridges, as well as the frequent and expensive repairs needed, were financed in part by the community or groups of people interested in a given bridge (their contribution took the form of providing materials for repairs and working on the actual repairs). In addition to the community, the institution of the vakuf played a certain part in the maintenance of bridges, although not to the same extent as it did for mosques and educational buildings.  Individual vakifs or legators, such as Mehmed-pasha Kukavica and Karađoz-beg, stipulated precise sums for the maintenance of each bridge they built (as regards the Karađoz-beg bridge in Blagaj, the vakufnama has yet to be discovered).

            There is very little historical data on the Karađoz-beg bridge.  It was probably built on the site of an earlier mediaeval crossing over the river (Džemal Čelić and Mehmed Mujezinović, p .206), and was built as an endowment of Zaim hajji Mehmed Karađoz–beg.  The earliest reference to the bridge is in the vakufnama of this Mostar-based benefactor, dated Ramadan 977 (8.3.1570), so it must have been built a little before that date.

            In the mid 19th century (to be precise, in 1849 according to the tarih or chronogram), the bridge was badly damaged or left in a ruinous state, and one Belfe-Kadira, the daughter of Ali-beg Velagić, donated money to repair it. The tarih (inscription) recording these repairs, according to a note by Radimski dating from 1891, was built into the bridge.  The plaque, measuring 65 x 60 cm, is now in the courtyard of the Sultan Suleyman mosque in Blagaj near Mostar, and was presumably rescued when the bridge was destroyed during World War II.

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 mosque.

            Karađoz-beg was the greatest benefactor 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 a hamam was built very close to the bridge 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, 2000, pp. 13-14)


2. Description of the property

            Almost without exception, bridges in Herzegovina were stone-built,. The structural system was essentially stereotomic, based on the fundamental elements of the vault and the arch.

            When building stone bridges, wrought iron and lead were used to join individual blocks, particularly in the barrel, parts of the string course, the parapet etc.

            Stone bridges can be classified into two basic typological groups: bridges with a single arch, abutting onto the two opposite banks, and bridges with more than one arch, resting on piers with their foundations in the river bed.

            About fifty metres from the Sultan Suleyman mosque as one descends towards the Buna and right by the Karađoz-beg hamam there stands a stone bridge with five arches over which the old Stolac road ran.

            The shape of the Karađoz-beg bridge is very similar to the majority of stone bridges with several arches of that period, creating a characteristic ascending line towards the centre of the bridge with the large span and rise of the arches.  This basic outline was later spoiled when the road surface was raised, and with it the original level of the roadway over the bridge, as a result of which a triangular section of wall was added to the facade by the right bank.

            The Karađoz-beg bridge consists of five stone barrel vaults resting on four stone-built piers in the riverbed and two piers on the banks of the Buna. Judging from the method of building, the bridge was built by local craftsmen.

            The basic components of stone bridges are:

1. the foundations of the bridge

2. the piers of the bridge

3. the arches/barrels of the bridge

4. the spandrel walls

5. the infill, a component that cannot be seen and consists of material used to fill the cavity between the upper surface of the barrels, the inner side of the spandrel walls and the roadway that covered it over

6. the string courses

7. the korkaluk or solid stone parapet


            The piers of the Karađoz-beg bridge, made of finely dressed stone blocks, are not of the standard pattern. On the upstream side they have the usual triangular outline, rather discreetly emerging beneath the main mass of the structure, and flat on top.  The fall of the triangular element, measured from the spandrel wall, is about 1.20 m, and its height at the highest point is about 1.40 m.  On the downstream side the usual polygonal buttresses are replaced by small pilasters projecting by about 35 cm, rectangular in section, terminating in a stepped transition to the spandrel wall on the downstream side.

            The barrel vaults are built of regular cut stone blocks laid in horizontal layers, and the round arches are set back from the surface of the spandrel walls by about 3 cm.  Since the bridge was conceived as a low-built structure, the arches do not emerge from the piers of the bridge but from the foundations together with the piers themselves. The arches are 40 cm deep.

            The openings of the arches are arranged perfectly symmetrically, increasing from the river bank towards the centre: the end ones have a span of 3.90 m, the second from the bank of 4.90 m and the central arch of 6.0 m.  The total length of the bridge, including the openings and the central piers, is 33.40 m, and if the approach sections with the abutment walls are included the overall length is almost 50cm.  Measured from the nominal water level, the highest point of the extrados on the surviving arches by the banks is 2.35 and 3.40 m.  On the contrary, as a result of the roadway being raised, the high points on the parapet measured above the central opening fall towards the centre and measure 4.40 and 4.25 m.  The high points of the extrados of the reconstructed arches are for the most part executed from the proportions of the surviving arches, whereas the roadway is laid tangentially to the openings, with an insignificant mass of the spandrel wall above the front of the arch.  The roadway is emphasized by a moulded string course and korkaluk or parapet of stone slabs.

            The width of the barrels is about 2.98 cm, and of the roadway over the bridge 2.68 m, while the thickness of the slabs of the parapet is 15cm.  The roadway over the bridge is now paved with cobbles set in cement mortar.

            On the reconstructed bridge, the arches are of dressed stone and the spandrel walls of tamped concrete with a stone revetment.  The stone used is the limestone known as tenelija, of which the original part of the bridge is made (Džemal Čelić and Mehmed Mujezinović, Stari Mostovi u BiH, 1969, pp. 206-209.)


3. Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Sites of 17 June 1950, the Karađozbeg bridge was placed under state protection.

            By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NRBiH of 18 April 1962 the Karađozbeg bridge was entered on the register of cultural monuments.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Karađoz-beg bridge in Blagaj as a Category I monument.

            The Karađoz-beg bridge in Blagaj is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH under serial no. 416.


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works

            The bridge has been reconstructed twice in the recent past, after the World War II bombing and after the major flood of the 1960s.

            During World War II the bridge was very badly damaged.  Three of the five arches were blown up, and all that survived were the two arches by the left bank (next to the hamam) and the stone parapet above them. The bases of the three destroyed arches survived to a height of about one metre.  To enable traffic to use the bridge, after the war a temporary timber structure was laid over the missing section.

            The bridge was reconstructed in the 1960s.

            Inspection of the design study for the reconstruction of the bridge reveals that the intention was for the bearing capacity of the bridge to be equivalent to a grade 3 road.  The bridge line was retained, without altering the previous cross section of structural elements, and the barrel was treated structurally as an elastic body, i.e. a double jointed arch. Since heavy goods vehicles had used the bridge previously (during the war), a 6-tonne motor vehicle or 500 kg/sq.m. was taken as the effective load, according to the regulations for pedestrian bridges (inspection of design and remarks thereon made by Džemal Čelić and Mehmed Mujezinović, Stari Mostovi u BiH, 1969, p.209.)

            Alterations to the bridge were also carried out when the brewery was built in Blagaj (by a businessman, Bilić, during the Austro-Hungarian period, on the left bank of the Buna in Galičić mahala). On that occasion, or earlier, the bridge was built up to some extent on the left bank, raising the roadway on that side.  Instead of the typical arched roadway, the new line was a constant fall from the left to the right bank. 


4. Current condition of the property

            The Karađoz-beg bridge is in use and is in good structural condition. The original outline, structure and materials of the bridge have been spoiled by damage and reconstruction. The bridge was reconstructed in a manner that does not comply with modern standards of architectural heritage protection



            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.iii. proportions

                                    C.iv. composition

                        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 structure of the Karađoz-beg bridge 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, Prilozi za orijentalnu filologiju i istoriju jugoslovenskih naroda pod Turskom vladavinom, (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.


Čelić, Džemal and Mujezinović, Mehmed,  Stari mostovi u Bosni i Hercegovini (Old Bridges in BiH) Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1969.

Karađoz-beg bridge on Buna in BlagajKarađoz-beg bridge, downstream facadeKarađoz-beg bridge after destruction in II.W.W.Karađoz-beg bridge during reconstruction in sixties of XX century
Karađoz-beg bridge after reconstruction, the difference between old and new part is visible   

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