Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Harem of the Hajji Kurd mosque in Lijeva Novoselija, the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH”, no. 47/04.         

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 10 December 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Hajji Kurd mosque in Lijeva Novoselija in Banja Luka is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of the harem (courtyard/burial ground) with nišan headstones.

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 1560/1 and 1560/2 new survey, i.e. 1970/2, 1970/3 and part of 1970/4 old survey, cadastral municipality Banja Luka III 13, Municipality Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The mosque being built on the site of the Hajji Kurd mosque destroyed in 1993 is not subject to protection since it has not been built in conformity with the state of the building before demolition and has not been rehabilitated in compliance with the Law on the Implementation of 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) and other valid regulations, standards and principles of protection, and thus does not meet the Criteria for the designation of property as national monuments (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03).

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation measures set forth by the Law referred to in the preceding paragraph shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.




            The Government of Republika Srpska 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 Republika Srpska shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation of the National Monument and for the rehabilitation itself of 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.




            The following measures in particular shall be implementedto protect the National Monument:

ـ           The original use of the protected area may not be altered;

ـ           The epigraphic material in the harem burial ground shall be documented, the harem set in order, and damaged nišan tombstones shall be repaired;

ـ           The mosque and courtyard area shall be surrounded with a wooden fence as originally done, using the principle of analogy.




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




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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, III and IV 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.anek8komisija.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.


No: 07-6-978/03-4

6 December 2003 Sarajevo



Chairman of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo


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.

            The Commission received a petition from the Islamic Community of BiH, Banja Luka Majlis (Council), on 27 August 2002.  

            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:

ـ           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.;

ـ           The current condition of the property;

ـ           Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property;

ـ           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 current condition of the site are as follows:


1. Details of the property


            The Hajji Kurd mosque is in Lijeva Novoselija, Karajlić street, in Banja Luka, and is the property of the Board of the Islamic Community of Banja Luka(1).

Historical information

            The Hajji Kurd mosque dates from the seventeenth century, after Novoselija was settled in the sixteenth century by peasants from the village of Trn fleeing the plague (Bejtić: 1953, p. 112). There is no reference to the mosque in the census of the mahala dating from 1604(2) (Oriental Institute, 2000, pp. 422-423). However, since Athanasio Georgiceo notes in 1626(3) that the town had 42 mosques, and Evliya Çelebi describes 45 mosques in 1660(4), it is possible that the mosque had already been built.

            In the 1851 census of mahalas, the Hajji Kurt mahala is listed together with 21 houses and a certain sum of 1890 groschen for the taxpayers of this mahala (Bejtić, 1953, p. 115). 

            The Hajji Kurt mahala and Hajji Zulfikar (Tulek) mahala formed part of Lijevo Novoselija, while on the right bank of the Vrbas there were the Hajji Mustajpasha, Šabanaga and Hajji Firduz mahalas.         Each of these had its own eponymous mosque. Only the Behram effendi mosque stood in an isolated position, south of the Hajji Firduz mahala, and was the only mosque in Banja Luka not to have its own mahala (Bejtić, 1953, p. 112).

            The earliest known written reference to Novoselija was on the mimber of  the Behram effendi mosque, written by the founder’s own hand, 1047 AH (this year began on 26 May 1637), which is reliable evidence that Novoselija existed at this time as part of the town (Kreševljaković, 1991, p. 297).


2. Description of the monument


            The mosque belongs to the single-space type of mosques with wooden minaret. In 1983, Banja Luka had a total of eight mosques with wooden minarets, six in Donji Šeher and two in Novoseljia (Bećirbegović, 1999, pp. 125-126 ).

            The mosque had a rectangular ground plan extending lengthwise, with exterior dimensions of approx. 7.85 x 13.05 m. The entrance sofas were open and the floors of the left and right sofas (which measured approx. 290 x 390 cm) were approx. 35 cm higher than the level of the central entrance passage (measuring approx. 175 x 390 cm). The central interior rectangular space measured 6.35 x 7.65 m(5).

            The portico had eight square wooden pillars (approx. 15 x 15 cm in cross section) on which the mosque roof rested via the horizontal beams of the portico. The pillars were linked by horizontal beams and reinforced by struts («arms»).

            The sofa railing was constructed in the form of balustraded wooden uprights with pronounced moulding. The sofas were raised above the level of the mosque entrance, which was stone-paved. The prayer space was lit by 16 windows in two rows, lower and upper.

            All the windows were rectangular in shape, and the ground floor windows had wooden shutters on the inside. Both the upper (approx. 70 x 110 cm) and the lower windows (approx. 80 x 135 cm) each had two horizontal and three vertical rectangular fields and were surrounded on the exterior facade by wooden window-frames that were not accentuated, but were set level with the wall(6).

            The mahfil was approx. 3.55 m. deep, and abutted onto three walls and one square wooden pillar holding up the load bearing beam. The projection for the muezzin was rectangular and was located on the right hand side of the mahfil, opposite the mimber.  The mahfil was reached by a single narrow flight of wooden ladder-type steps (basamak) with an angle of about 60 degrees, set against the wall to the right of the entrance door. Basamak steps constructed in the same fashion led to the attic area was reached by, from which the minaret stairway was reached.

            The mihrab was accentuated by a rectangular frame approx. 135 cm wide. The mihrab niche was semicircular, with a diameter of approx.88 cm, and the mihrab itself was extremely simple in treatment, like that of the Behram effendi mosque.

            To the right of the mihrab was a wooden mimber approx. 77 cm wide by 292 cm long, with a passage, nine steps 18 cm wide and 25 cm high, and a pyramidal canopy.

            The wooden minaret, which had a central mast around which a wooden staircase was built, projected from the roof of the mosque and had a covered šerefe or balcony. The alem (finial) had two pommels(7). A photograph dating from 1975 shows the minaret had medium-sized apertures. According to written sources, there are mosques with this type of minaret ih Tuzla, Čelić, Srebrenica, Donji and Gornji Vakuf, Tešanj, Maglaj and elsewhere (Bećirbegović, 1999, p. 179).

            The minaret was octagonal in cross section, and about 10 m high measured from the floor of the attic to the alem of the minaret. The šerefe was somewhat wider (approx. 10 cm) and had a balustrade about 130 cm high. The apertures of the minaret, approx. 50 cm high, were set in the upper third of the height of the šerefe. The minaret was plain and unadorned, and had moulded uprights laid across the joints of the vertical planks cladding the body of the minaret, which articulated it visually(8).

            The mosque was built of adobe brick(9), with walls about 75 cm thick, plastered inside and out; the foundations and foundation walls to the height of the socle were of stone. The photograph of its exterior appearance in 1975 shows that the façade was damaged in places, revealing the wooden tie beams that provided the walls with horizontal rigidity.

            The roof was originally overlaid with shingle, but prior to its demolition it had a curved tile roof.

            To the east, by the road, the harem was surrounded by a low stone wall(10).

            In 1975 the mosque was pulled down and a new mosque was built using modern materials.

            The harem of the Hajji Kurd mosque consists of two areas.  In the first, some thirty metres south of the mosque, c.p. 1970/5 and 1970/6 (old survey), there are nišan tombstones.

Nišan no. 1

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, measuring 16 x 14 x 88, with an inscription in Turkish. A sword is carved on the right hand side of the nišan and a stylized branch on the back.

تقي لر كيم ايجر جام مماتي بو ...... عمر ابن مصطفي كوليج  سنة 1323

All shall certainly drink of the cup of death. . . Omer son of Mustafa Kulić. 1323 (1905)

Nišan no. 2

An undressed stone slab erected as a nišan.

Nišan no. 3

An undressed piece of stone erected as a nišan.

Nišan no. 4

A damaged tufa nišan measuring 19 x 17 x 55 cm.

Nišan no. 5

A damaged stone footstone nišan measuring 19 x 17 x 55 cm.

Nišan no. 6

The remains of a stone nišan.

Nišan no. 7

A man's tufa nišan with turban, circular in cross section, circumference 82 cm, height 70 cm.

            At the centre of this part of the harem are a number of brokenpieces of nišan tombstones piled in a heap.


            Te part of the harem alongside the mosque, c.p. 1970/1 and 1970/2 contains the following nišans:

Nišan no. 1

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, square in cross-section 23 x 23 cm, height 90 cm.

Nišan no. 2

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, rectangular in cross-section 18 x 19 cm, height 75 cm.

Nišan no. 3

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, rectangular in cross-section 15 x 14 cm, height 90 cm.

Nišan no. 4

The remains of a stone nišan measuring 20 x 12 x 55 cm

Nišan no. 5

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, rectangular in cross-section 11 x 9 cm, height 47 cm.

Nišan no. 6

A man's nišan with fez, measuring 12 x 9 x 62 cm, with epitaph:

لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله

There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the prophet of God.

Nišan no. 7

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, rectangular in cross-section 21 x 19 cm, height 55 cm.

Nišan no. 8

A man's nišan with turban, made of tufa, rectangular in cross-section 16 x 17 cm, height 82 cm.

            This area also contains a number of newer nišan tombstones and the remains of older ones.  Above this part of the harem is yet another harem area, c.p. 1968/10 (old survey), containing mainly newer nišans.


3. Legal status to date

            The building was not under protection or registered in the Register of Monuments.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

            No research or conservation works have been carried out. 

            In 1975 the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Banja Luka drew up a design project for the restoration of the building, but at the initiative of the local inhabitants it was demolished in 1975 and a new mosque was built on the site using modern materials(11).


5. Current condition of the monument

            The mosque was dynamited on 4 July 1993 and the rubble was removed.

            An on site inspection on 28 November 2003 ascertained as follows: concrete foundations and a reinforced concrete basal slab measuring 8.00 x 13.25 m., with a height of approx. 50-110 cm, had been laid. Steel anchors for vertical ringbeams had been set in the concrete basal slab. The foundations of the building are 80 cm off true in relation to the original building line to the north-east.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, adopted at the fourth session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (3 to 9 September 2002), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.         Time frame

B.         Historical value

E.         Symbolic value

E.ii.       religious value

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


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

ـ           Copy of cadastral plan

ـ           Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

ـ           Photodocumentation;

ـ           Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the historic site of the harem of the Hajji Kurd mosque in Banja Luka as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Bećirbegović, Madžida, Džamije s drvenom munarom u Bosni i Hercegovini (Mosques with wooden minarets in BiH) 2nd ed, Sarajevo, 1999


Bejtić, Alija, "Banja Luka pod turskom vladavinom", "Arhitektura i teritorijalni razvitak grada u 16. i 17. vijeku", (Banja Luka under Turkish rule, Architecture and territorial development of the town in the 16th and 17th centuries), Naše starine I (Annual of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH), Sarajevo, 1953


Džaja, Mato, Banja Luka u putopisima i zapisima (Banja Luka in travelogues and reports), NP Glas, Banja Luka, 1962


Husedžinović, Sabira, Džamije Banja Luke u planovima austrijskih ratnih karata iz XVIII stoljeća (Mosques of Banja Luka in the plans of 18th c. Austrian war maps), Contributions to Oriental Philology 47-48, Oriental Institute, Sarajevo, 1999


Husedžinović, Sabira, study of the Hajji Kurd mosque and fountains in Grab drawn up for the Commission to Preserve National Monuments on the basis of the material in the m/s of the unpublished work: «Dokumenti opstanka, džamije in Banja Luka» (Documents on the survival of the mosque in Banja Luka), 2003


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Izabrana djela II, "Esnafi i obrti u Bosni i Hercegovini (1463-1878)" (Selected works II, Guilds and crafts in BiH 1463-1878), Sarajevo, 1991


Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovina, kn. 2, Istočna i centralna Bosna, (Islamic epigraphics of BiH, vol. 2, eastern and central  Bosnia), 3rd ed, Sarajevo, 1998


Architectural documentation originating from prior to 1995 (source: drawings from Dr Sabira Husedžnović)


Report by the Banja Luka Mufti’s office on the condition of the Islamic Community, religious and cultural buildings and vakuf property, Banja Luka, April 2000


(1) Details of the cadastral plots and ownership have been taken from the Land Registry, entry no. 623/3, issued by the Republika Srpska Bureau of Geodetic and Property Law Affairs, Banja Luka branch, no. 10-952-2-5297/2003 on 16 October 2003

(2) General census of the Bosnian sancak, 1604, vol. III (original title Defter-i-mufassal-i liva-i Bosna cild salis, Ankara, Tapu Kadastro, Kuyûd-1 Kadîme Arşivi TD 479), Sarajevo: Bosnian Institute Zürich, Sarajevo Branch: Oriental Institute, 2000, pp. 422-423.

(3) In 1626 Athanasio Georgiceo visited Banja Luka as an envoy of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II (1619-1637).  His report to the Emperor reveals that Banja Luka then had 45 mahalas and the same number of mosques (Mitrović, O, Kreševljaković, H, «Bosna u izvještaju Athanasia Georgicea iz 1626.», Zbornik zaštite spomenika kulture, X, Belgrade, 1959)

(4) Džaja, 1962, p. 24

(5) source: dimensions noted on drawings of the Hajji Kurd mosque taken from Dr Sabira Husedžinović

(6) source: photograph, Museum of the Bosnian Krajina, Banja Luka, Inv. No. FIT 5, Sept. 1975

(7) source: photograph, Museum of the Bosnian Krajina, Banja Luka, Inv. No FIT 5, Sept. 1975

(8) Bećirbegović, 1999, pp. 126 and 179, and photograph, ibid.

(9) “All these mosques were built by local craftsmen of unbaked brick and wood with wooden minarets”, referring to the mosques in Novoselija (Bejtić, 1953, p. 112)

(10) “All the mosques were roofed with tiles, but previously the roof cladding had been shingles” (Bećirbegović, 1999, p. 126)

(11) details of these works provided by Dr Sabira Husedžinović. The Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka does not have this design documentation.



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