Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Necropolis with stećak tombstones of Dugo polje on Blidinje, the historic site

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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 20 to 26 January 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones of Dugo polje on Blidinje is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on a site consisting of parts of the plots adjoining the access road over a distance of 100 m, being cadastral plots nos.1928, land registry entry no. 189, c.p.1929, land registry entry no. 8, and c.p. 1486/1, land registry entry no. 98, cadastral municipality Risovac; Municipality Jablanica, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of a necropolis with 150 stećak tombstones.

            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, 27/02 and 6/04) shall apply to the National Monument.




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

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




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

            Protection Zone I  consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para 2 of this Decision.

Ÿ         In this zone, all works of any kind on the buildings constituting the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than works of conservation and restoration, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Ministry of regional planning) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

Ÿ         the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public, and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,

Ÿ         all works of any kind, including agricultural work, that could have the effect of altering the site are prohibited,

Ÿ         the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not intended solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument, and of structures detrimental to the natural environment or restricting the view of the National Monument, is prohibited

Ÿ         the dumping of waste is prohibited.

            Protection  Zone II consists of an area with a radius of 1 km from the boundary of Protection Zone I.

            In this zone, the quarrying of stone, siting of potential environmental polluters as defined by legislation, erection of industrial facilities, construction of major infrastructure facilities or of any building or structure that could have the effect, during construction or operation, of endangering the National Monument are prohibited.


            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for implementing the following protection measures:

Ÿ         investigating the cause of damage and the options for making good individual stećak tombstones

Ÿ         clearing and cleaning the stećak tombstones

Ÿ         the removal of plant organisms

Ÿ         conservation of the stone.




            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 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: 05.1-2-1046/03-4

20 January 2004



E l u c i d a t i o n



            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

           On 12 January 2003 Lidija Fekeža MA, an archaeologist from Sarajevo, sent a proposal/petition to designate the historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones of Dugo polje as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            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          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.

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 property


            Blidinje is a karst plateau extending north-east/south-west between Čvrsnica, Muharica and Vran mountain.  To the north-east is Vrata (Sovićka vrata), and to the south-west Blidinje lake and Poljana.  South of the lake, beyond Čvrsnica ridge, are Donje and Gornje Bare, and the Svinjače region extends to the west.  Čvrsnica and Muharica mountains are thickly clad in coniferous forest, but Vran is relatively bare towards the lake.  The ridge and slopes of the surrounding mountains have divided Blidinje into several areas:  Sovićko or Strmo polje, Brčanj, Risovac, Dragajice, Rudo polje, Badnje, Masna luka, Ivan-dolac, Poljana, Donje and Gornje Bare and Dugo polje. The winters are long and cold, the summers short and dry.  Precipitation is high, and accompanied by north winds.  The sparse local population is engaged in cattle tending and for the most part lives here only in summer.  Blidinje is now a nature park and recreation area, with a weekend resort built to plan, and is an increasingly popular ski resort.

            A road runs along Blidinje which forks at Sovićka vrata, with one fork leading to Prozor and the other to Jablanica, and south-west to Drežnica and the Duvno plain.

Historical information

            The remains of an open prehistoric settlement have been discovered on the site known as Barzonja, between the stećak tombstones and to the east of the necropolis.  There is a prehistoric hillfort, a small settlement (50 x 25 m.) at Podjelinak, and shards of earthenware vessels and grindstones have been found, probably dating from the Bronze and Iron ages.  At Sesaruša, the remains of a prehistoric hillfort (85 x 85 m) and Roman fortifications abound in archaeological material pointing to the Bronze, Iron and Roman ages (P.Oreč 1978).

            There are three stone cairns – Zmijska, alongside the main road, another in Risovac and the third close to the nearby village of Orašca – which, judging from their position and appearance, were probably signposts for the road that ran through the area in Roman times (Š. Bešlagić, 1959, 12).

            Historical information on the region in the mediaeval period is extremely meagre.  Blidinje formed part of Bosnia under the Kotromanić dynasty from 1325 to 1357, when it passed, along with western Hum, to the Hungarian king Louis I of Anjou, as the dowry of his wife Jelisaveta, daughter of Stjepan Kotromanić. After the death of King Louis, the area became part of the mediaeval Bosnian state, which it remained until at least 1463.

            The mediaeval župa of Drežnica consisted of the Drežanka valley, Čvrsnica and Blidinje with the surrounding plains. During the reign of Tvrtko I Kotromanić, Duke Mastan Bubanjić lived in his court in Drežnica.  In the 14th century he had his own estate in Blidinje – Masna luka, where he and his sons were herdsmen, as recorded in an inscription in Bosnian Cyrillic carved into the living rock in Donja Drežnica.

            The necropolis with its stećak tombstones, alongside the main road linking Blidinje with the Duvno plain and Doljani valley, is evidence that the region was inhabited in the mediaeval period.  There are other necropolises, too, on Blidinje: Risovac, Ponor, Jezero, Donje Bare and Barzonja. Their appearance and location in an unspoiled natural environment makes them among the finest and most interesting necropolises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


2. Description of the property

            Dugo polje lies at the foothills of Vran mountain, which drops steeply to the south and south-east between Blidinje lake and Hrbin. It is here that the necropolis with  its stećak tombstones lies, occupying an area of 90 x 37 m, to the south of the macadam road.  The view from the necropolis is of Mali and Veliki Vran, Rudo polje and Čvrsnica.  A small part of Blidinje lake can be seen some 8 km to the south-west.  There are no inhabited areas nearby, just a few houses and cottages to the east, probably used only in the summer months.

            The Dugo polje necropolis consists of 150 stećak tombstones, lying south-west/north-east, of which 72 are slabs, 59 are chests, 14 are tall chests, 4 are ridged with pedestals, and one is ridged without a pedestal.  A few lie in the opposite direction, south-east/north-west.  Between the stećaks are a few irregular pieces of slabs and chests half buried in the ground.  All the stećak tombstones are cut from limestone from a nearby quarry below the slopes of Mt Vran or from Zrenica, where there was also a quarry.  Roughly in the centre of the necropolis are the remains of a building into which the local inhabitants had incorporated some of the chest tombstones from the necropolis.

            Thirty-two of the stećak tombstones are decorated: five slabs, 22 chests and five ridges. The most common decorative motifs are rosettes (34 in all).  They feature with four, five or more leaves, along or combined with crescent moons.  Most of them are in relief, but some are carved into the stone.  One ridge tombstone (no. 124 on the plan) has a stylized rosette which stands out in quality of workmanship. There are nineteen crosses, four of them stylized, and one as a double cross.  On one  stećak (no. 139 on the plan), there is an interesting combination of motifs which constitutes one of the pecularities of the necropolis: two arms of the cross end in an anchor shape, and two in the form of a fleur-de-lis.  All the crosses are in relief.  There are sixteen crescent moons, usually combined with a rosette and normally in relief.

            Edgings feature as frames to the slabs, in the form of curved lines with spirals or trefoils on blank surfaces and as carved zigzag lines.  Some of the lines take the shape of a large S, and some are detached spirals.   One interesting chest-shaped stećak (no. 137 on the plan) has a border on the upper side of an incised line with close-set spiral lines on either side.  There are eight circular garlands on four tombstones, most of them twisted, and in five instances bearing a rosette within them.  On three ridged tombstones, ropetwists, a very common motif on stećaks in Herzegovina, frame the lower edge of the top slab to create the illusion of the eaves of a house or lid of a chest (nos. 121, 123 and 124).  The ridge- and chest-shaped tombstones that are most handsomely decorated have ropetwists on the vertical edges as well.  Some of them have a carved frieze of ribbons with incised hooks, curved lines with trefoils or linked spirals.

            In three places there is a shield and sword, and in one a sword alone.  Two of the shields are decorated with heraldic symbols of a rosette or a bend (diagonal line) with fleur de lis.

            There is one unexplained motif on a chest-shaped stećak (no. 100), which suggests a tool of some kind.  A very unusual motif is a cross with a long upright topped by a circle.  On stećak no. 113 a semicircle with a handle, probably a sickle, is incised besire the cross. (Š. Bešlagić, Stećci na Blidinju, 31).

            There are also scenes with figures: five hunting scenes, two tournaments, two round-dances (one with women only, one with both men and women) and one showing three figures coming out of a tower.  The tournaments are fought on foot, with mace and sword.  Pairs of women figure on three monuments.  In one place there are the carved outlines of three women together, with long dresses and no arms (no. 129).  There are two instances of a woman alone, one with a dog and one alone, hands held high.

            Animal figures appear on two stećaks: a young roe-deer with head erect (no 123) and a horse (no 129). There is one representation of a hand by itself.

            Among the most interesting representations of figures are scenes with a fantastical animal, probably a winged horse with a serpent (stećak no. 123). There are also three figures with their hands on their chests (stećak no. 134) and five men with hands raised high (stećak no. 137), also of puzzling, symbolic meaning.

The oldest stećak tombstones in the Dugo polje necropolis date from the second half of the 14th century, and are plain slabs of rough workmanship, located in the eastern part of the necropolis (nos. 12-30).  The necropolis grew south-westwards, where the stećaks are more carefully shaped as tall chests and ridges and more regularly decorated. About ten stećaks to the north-east also belong to the later period of the 15th century.


3. Legal status to date

            Neither the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport, nor the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural,Historical and Natural Heritage of Mostar, have any documentation on the legal protection of the property.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            To date no conservation or restoration works have been carried out on the stećak tombstones of the necropolis in Dugo polje.

            Experts from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport have drafted a Study on the influence of forestry on biologically sensitive areas, with a separate section on individual national parks and nature parks: Prenj-Čvrsnica-Čabulja, which includes the Blidinje area.


 5. Current condition of the property

            An on site visit in December 2003 ascertained as follows:

            The necropolis with  stećak tombstones in Dugo polje is in relatively good condition. The area is almost entirely uninhabited and there are as yet no buildings in the vicinity that could spoil the appearance of the site or restrict the view.  Some stećaks are damaged by long exposure to the elements.  Most of the stećaks have plant organisms on their north-eastern faces, mainly lichens, which are detrimental to the stone and could cause irreparable damage to the decorations.



            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.iv. composition

            G. Authenticity

                        G.i. form and design

                        G.ii. material and content

                        G.v. location and setting

            H. Rarity and representativity

                        H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style

            I. Completeness

                        I.i. physical coherence

                        I.ii. homogeneity

                        I.iii. completeness


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


-         Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci-kultura i umjetnost, (Stećak tombstones – culture and art) Sarajevo, 1982

-         Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci na Blidinju, (Stećak tombstones at Blidinje) Zagreb 1959

-         Oreč,Petar, Prapovijesna naselja I grobne gomile, (Posušje, Grude I Lištica) (Prehistoric settlements and grave mounds (Posušje, Grude and Lištica) Journal of the National Museum XXXII/1977, Sarajevo, 1978,181-291, 1-10.



Necropolis with stećak tombstones of Dugo polje on BlidinjeThe map of Blidinje with necropolisView at necropolis Dugo poljePart of necropolis with stećak tombstones
Group of stećak tombstonesRemains of the chapelStećak tombstonesRidged tombstones

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