Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Old Soko mosque in Soko, 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 6 to 12 May 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the old Soko mosque in Soko, Gračanica is hereby designated as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

             The National Monument is on a site comprising cadastral plots nos. 2817/2 and 2871/1, land registry no. 518, cadastral municipality Soko, Gračanica municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the mosque and harem.

            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 specified in the preceding paragraph.




            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 rehabilitation of 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.




• In the protected area defined by Clause I of this Decision, works of conservation, structural repair, restoration and reconstruction are permitted, including works designed for the display of the monument, conforming to technical documentation drawn up in compliance with the conditions stipulated by the heritage protection authority of the Federation of  Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority).

• The building may be used for religious, cultural or educational purposes.

            For the purpose of preserving and ensuring the conditions for the rehabilitation of the mosque, the following urgent measures are stipulated to prevent its further deterioration:

1. conservation of the walls

2. survey and structural analysis

3. repair and structural consolidation of walls and roof;

4. protection of the mosque, in particular the walls, from the effects of the elements.


            The entrance portico of the mosque is to be reconstructed in its original form, with its original dimensions, using the same or same type of materials and building techniques.

            The minaret may be reconstructed according to technical documentation using the stone from which it was previously built and which now lies in the immediate vicinity of the mosque.

            If no technical documentation is found, the new minaret may be built according to the conditions stipulated by the heritage protection authority.


            No building on the site of the monument is permitted, nor may any temporary or permanent structures be erected not intended solely for the protection and display of the monument.

            The mosque harem is to be landscaped.


            For the purpose of preserving the national monument the following protection zones are hereby defined:

            Protection Zone I comprises c.o. 2841, 2842, 2817, 2818, 2827, 2828, 2829, 2830, 2831, 2832, 2834, 2835, 2839, 2843, 2844.  The area of this zone comprises the historic heart of the town of Soko and the old mosque and harem, forming a single ensemble;

            In Protection Zone I no new construction, erection of temporary buildings or other works that could have the effect of altering the area are permitted.  All buildings of a temporary nature shall be removed from the area of the access road between the mediaeval fort of Soko and the mosque.  Existing residential buildings may not be built onto to exceed a height of 6.5 m. to the roof cornice.


            Protection Zone II comprises c.p: 2289/4, 2360, 2362-2365, 2772/1, 2774, 2777, 2778, 2778/1, 2779, 2780, 2780/3, 2781, 2782/1, 2782/2, 2782/3, 2782/4, 2783/2, 2784-2788, 2789, 2789/1, 2789/2, 2790-2792, 2792/2, 2793, 2794, 2798 južni dio puta, 2799, 2802, 2814-1816, 2819, 2819/1, 2819/2, 2820, 2821/1, 2821/2, 2822-2825,2826/1, 2826/2, 2839, 2840, 2862, 2865, 3196, 3204, 3220.

            In Protection Zone II the restoration, reconstruction and adaptation of existing buildings is permitted on condition that they meet the conditions of a maximum of two storeys (ground floor and one upper floor) 6.5 m. in height to the roof cornice, maximum horizontal dimensions of 12 x 10 m, with pitched roofs of an angle no steeper than 45 degrees.  Detailed regional plans and town planning and technical plans for the construction of new buildings must include approval from the heritage protection authority.  The construction of industrial facilities, major infrastructure, and potential polluters as defined by regulations, is prohibited.




            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 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 town 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-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.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 and the Official Gazette of the Federation 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.


Chairman of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No: 06-6-91/03-2

6 May 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 (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) 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 Gračanica Municipality for the Old Soko mosque in Gračanica on 18 December 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:

Ÿ          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ          Current condition of the property

Ÿ          Data on the current use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.

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. Details of the site


            The old Soko mosque in Gračanica stands on c.p. 2817/2 and 2871/1, c.m. Soko, as designated on the copy of the land registry and cadastral plan forming an integral part of this Decision.         

            The Old Mosque stands within an active Muslim graveyard.  The ground on which it is build is very steep, with a marked north-south fall. It is located in the very centre of the village of Soko in the immediate vicinity of the mediaeval fort of Soko built on a rocky outcrop above the Sokolica brook some 6 km north of Gračanica.   The only possible approach to the fort is from the north where the Old Mosque stands.  The Soko fort and Old Mosque are separated by a natural hollow that was probably spanned by a bridge.  This natural hollow now appears much shallower, and a residential building has even been erected there.

Historical information

            The date of origin of the Old Mosque and its use can be viewed in the context of the mediaeval fort of Soko.

            The earliest reference to Soko fort dates from 1429, when it was owned by Prince Radivoj, son of King Ostoja and brother of the Bosnian King Tomaš, who bestowed half of Soko and all his holdings in mediaeval Bosnia and Slavonia that same year, after entering into marriage with Katarina, daughter of Nikola of Velika (the region of present-day Slavonska Požega), to his wife's parents (Jalimam, 2001).

            Other authors give the ssame date but date the marriage settlement to 1449 (Handžić, 2001, 68; Kreševljaković 1953, 22). 

            The Srebrenik banovina fell under Ottoman rule at the time of  Sultan Selim I (1512-1520), and it was probably in 1520 that Sokograd (Soko fort) was occupied (Vego, 1957, 105).  Signs of arson found in the mediaeval fortress belong to the fire that year when Soko was burned by its Magyar garrison, which then fled.   The mediaeval court was also fired and much of it was destroyed at the same time.  According to Ishtvan, a contemporary of these events, Toma Matusnaj, ban of the Srebrenik banovina and of Soko and Tešanj, fled by night from the fort and left the garrison to fight.  After ten days of fighting, the Srebrenik garrison capitulated.

            The mediaeval building of the Old Soko Mosque was built in the first half of the fifteenth century.

            On coming under Ottoman rule the town of Soko remained the cultural, military and administrative seat of the nahija.  The Ottomans used to build mosques for their garrisons in the fortified towns they had occupied, and it can safely be said that the Old Soko Mosque is the oldest mosque in this area.  It is known as the Fethija by the local people, a name also given to the other mosques built immediately after the establishment of Ottoman rule (fath or conquest).

            In the first population census of Soko town in 1533 Muslims are recorded as being in a majority, with 33 houses of a total of 46.  In the early sixteenth century the garrison of Soko fort included religious officials (imams); the first imam was Hadži Fakih, further evidence that there was a mosque there immediately after the establishment of Ottoman rule.  In the seventeenth century the mosque served not only the town of Soko but also the wider region with the villages of Džakule and Čekanić.

            The mosque remained in use until 1980 when a new mosque was built in Soko.


2. Description of the monument

            In June 1984 archaeological investigations were carried out on the Old Soko Mosque, including investigations to the interior of the building and investigative works on the exterior walls.  During these works much of the plaster was knocked off, and no evidence of an apse or any architectural features ascertained that would suggest the building was originally built as a church was found.  The investigations to the interior uncovered traces of fire and various repairs and reinforcements to the walls, indicating that the building underwent several reconstructions over the years (Veljko Milić, custodian and archaeologist: "Rezultati arheološkog istraživanja na lokalitetu Stare džamije u Sokolu"). The building was most likely originally built as a feudal manor.  In mediaeval Bosnia such manors were known as courts, and were much larger than the houses of the rest of the population; they were built in urban settlements and their outskirts.  Some of the feudals lived in courts located within fortified towns.  The court would be stone-built with lime mortar.  The interior of these mediaeval courts was probably of wood, which has rotted away with time.

            The building of the Old Soko Mosque is rectangular in ground plan, measuring 12.84 x 7.80 m.  The walls are of irregular quarry stone bonded with lime mortar, and are 80 cm thick.  The facade was plastered.  The entrance porch was added later of solid brick, 40 cm. thick.  The roof structure was wooden.  Traces of wooden tiebeams are to be seen on the building, along with elements of the original roof structure that no longer exists.  The Old Mosque has a hipped roof with classic wooden roof structure overlaid with tiles.  There are no interior partition walls and archaeological investigation found no evidence of there having been any.  The windows and doors are semicircular arched of finely dressed stone, with those on the ground floor made of much more finely dressed stone than the upper windows.  The stone used came from a quarry not far from the building itself.

            There are visible traces of adaptation to the central area of the south wall, resulting from the addition of the mihrab, when several courses of stone were removed from the centre of the wall.  On the north wall at the upper floor level, close to the west wall, a small door was pierced reached by a wooden staircase.  A wooden minaret was erected, which was pulled down in 1934 and replaced by a new stone minaret.  To allow access to the minaret, the west wall was pierced and the small door at the level of the upper floor in the north wall was walled up, with a larger one pierced at ground floor level which became the main entrance door.  The original door on the west was bricked up at the same time.  On completion of these works the present day portico outside the entrance door on the north was added on.


3.  Legal status to date

            Pursuant to the regional plan for Gračanica Municipality and other planning documents, the Old Soko Mosque in Soko should be registered as a cultural and historical monument.  A Regulatory Plan for the cultural and historical townscape nucleus in the wider region of Soko – the Soko fort, the old mosque, the old graveyard, the new mosque, public buildings in the centre of the village, the area of the source of the Vrela and Ilidža and their riverbeds and the site of the former mill – should be drawn up.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

            In June 1984 archaeological investigations were carried out on the site of the Old Soko Mosque in Soko. The investigations were conducted by a four-member team of archaeologists from the Museum of Eastern Bosnia in Tuzla: Veljko Milić, Branko Belić, Aleksandra Popović and Savo Vojić. The investigations uncovered traces of burning, and various repairs and reinforcements to the walls, which indicates that the building was renovated and repairs and additions carried out on several occasions.


5. Current condition of the building

            Since 1980 the Old Mosque in Soko is no longer used for its original purpose.  The monument is in a ruinous state. The entrance portico has completely collapsed, the minaret has been pulled down and the stone used to build it is in the immediate vicinity of the mosque.  There are no surviving doors or windows, nor has the wooden interfloor structure survived; only traces are to be seen on the walls. The roof and walls are in very poor condition and in danger of collapsing.



            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

                        F. Townscape/landscape value

                                    F.ii. meaning in the townscape

                        G. Authenticity

                                    G.i. form and design

                                    G.ii. materials and content

                                    G.iii. use and function

                                    G. v. location and setting.


            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 Old Mosque in Soko as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Basler, Đuro, Stari gradovi u Majevici i Trebovcu. (Old forts in Majevica and Trebovac) Articles and material for the cultural history of eastern Bosnia IX, Museum of Eastern Bosnia, Tuzla 1972, 57-59


Handžić, Adem, Sokograd kod Gračanice. (Soko fort near Gračanica) Excerpt from research project on the Gračanica region in the Turkish era in the ownership of the Regional Collection in Gračanica. Gračanica Herald 11, Monos, Gračanica, 2001, 68.


Handžić, Adem, Tuzla i njena okolina u XVI vijeku. (Tuzla and its environs in the 16th c.) Sarajevo, Svjetlost, 1975.   


Jalimam, Salih, Srednjovjekovni grad Sokol (prilozi za studiju).(The mediaeval fort of Soko – contribution for study), Gračanica Herald 11, Monos, Gračanica, 2001, 60-74


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Prilozi povijesti bosanskih gradova pod turskom upravom (Contributions to the history of Bosnian forts under Turkish rule), Contributions to oriental philology and the history of the southern Slav peoples under Turkish rule, no.II, Sarajevo, 1952


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Stari bosanski gradovi (Old Bosnian forts), Naše starine I, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH, Sarajevo, 1954, 22


Museum of Eastern Bosnia Tuzla, Rezultati arheološkog istraživanja na lokalitetu Stare džamije u Sokolu. (Findings of archaeological investigations on the site of the Old Mosque in Soko), Gračanica Gazette 11, Monos, Gračanica, 1986, 21-26 


Šaković, Edin, Oblik i arhitektura starog grada Sokola. (Form and architecture of the old fort of Soko), Gračanica Herald 11, Monos, Gračanica, 2001, 69-74


Vego, Marko, Naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države. (Settlements of the mediaeval Bosnian State), Svjetlost Sarajevo 1957, 105

Old Soko mosque in SokoOld Soko mosque Old Soko mosque, the porchOld Soko mosque, detail - pillars in the porch
Interior of the old Soko mosque    

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