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Mosque and medresa of Mehmed-paša Kukavica, 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 2 to 8 March 2004 the Commission adopted a







The architectural ensemble of the mosque and medresa of Mehmed-paša Kukavica in Foča is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot nos. 1741, 1742 and 1766, Land Registry entry no. 1426, cadastral municipality Foča, Foča/Srbinje Municipality, Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




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 needed to draw up and implement 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 level I shall apply to the area designated as c.p. 1742, c.m. Foča. Within this area, the following measures shall apply:

  • all works on the National Monument are prohibited other than rehabilitation works, including preparatory and investigative works designed to ensure the conditions required for rehabilitation, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • in order to ensure the conditions required for the rehabilitation of the National Monument, preparatory and investigative works shall be carried out, which shall comprise:
    • providing the plot with a temporary protective barrier. The barrier shall be 2 metres in height and shall be so installed as to ensure the security of the building site,
    • the erection of a temporary protective platform above the central area of the mosque to provide protection from materials falling from the damaged walls and parts of the dome, and to protect the parts of the building still standing from further deterioration,
    • removal of the fallen stone in the presence of qualified conservators/restorers.  All the fragments shall be studied, recorded, and placed on a wooden platform erected for the purpose in the area covered by Protection level II,
    • tests to determine the petrographic and chemical characteristics of the stone and other building materials, a stratographic study of the plaster and painted surfaces, and all investigative works required prior to the conservation of the copper plaques with calligraphic inscriptions,
    • investigative works and a structural analysis of the structure of the walls of the mosque still standing following its demolition by dynamite. Depending on the findings of these investigations, the rehabilitation of the mosque building shall be carried out using the appropriate methods:

o         conservation and structural repair of existing structures,

o         if this is not possible, dismantling of  the existing walls and their reconstruction using the method of anastylosis,

o         reconstruction of demolished parts of the building using original materials or, where this is impossible for good reason, the same type of material, in which case the difference between the original and the new materials must be recognizable,

  • as part of the project for the rehabilitation of the architectural ensemble, the right wing of the medresa building and the courtyard wall facing the street and the entrance gate shall be reconstructed, based on available documentation.  The use of a gabled roof frame on the single storey section of the wing of the medresa and a hipped roof on the two-storey section of the wing of the medresa is permitted.  When reconstruction the medresa and courtyard wall, the following materials may be used: hollow tiles as roof cladding, stone, wood, baked clay, iron, copper and glass

Protection level II shall apply to the area designated as c.p nos. 1741 and 1766, c.m. Foča. Within this area the following protective measures shall apply:

  • the plot shall be provided with a temporary protective barrier.  The barrier shall extend along its northern boundary of c.p. no. 1741, c.m Foča, following the north and north-east boundary of Protection Zone II from the building erected on c.p. no. 1738, c.m. Foča, to the building erected on c.p.1735, c.m. Foča. The barrier shall be 2 metres in height and shall be so installed as to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the protected area and to secure the stored material against damage.  On the western boundary of this protected area, which has an exit to JNA street, a temporary gate shall be sited for the passage of traffic,
  • a temporary, readily accessible shelter shall be erected to store the material taken from the ruins, along with a temporary wooden covered platform for sorting, selecting and cleaning stone from the mosque to be used in the rehabilitation of the ensemble,
  • following completion of rehabilitation works on the mosque, the area of Protection level II shall be cleared and landscaped.



            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 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 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.



No: 06.1-36-1063/03-8                                                                                             

2 March 2004



Chair 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 to Preserve National Monuments issued a Decision to add the Mehmed-paša Kukavica mosque in Foča to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the heading “Remains of the Kukavica mosque”, numbered as 212.

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.
  • Copy of cadastral plan
  • 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 architectural ensemble of the mosque and medresa of Mehmed-paša Kukavica was erected on cadastral plots nos. 1741, 1742 and 1766, Land Registry entry no. 1426, owned by the Islamic Community, Foča/Srbinje branch, c.m. Foča, Foča/Srbinje Municipality, Republika Srpska

            The mosque and medresa stand in the Upper čaršija (Prijeka čaršija) very close to the Mehmed-paša Kukavica han and clock tower.

Historical information

The origins and evolution of the mediaeval settlement of Hoča (Hotča)(1) in Bosnia and Herzegovina was based primarily on its geographical location on the two rivers Drina and Ćehotina and on the road linking Dubrovnik with the Moravia-Vardar valley and the central regions of the Balkan peninsula.

The route of the Dubrovnik road remained recognizable in the layout of the roads network of Foča(2) in Prijeka čaršija, in the zone adjacent to Pazarišta (Trgovišta(3)) – the area where Hoča (Hotča) first took shape in mediaeval times(4).

Mediaeval Hoča (Hotča) went through various stages of building and urban development, from an open caravan station (platea) and market place to an urban township.  As the end of the road via Čemerno and Sutjeska, Foča was well located to become a major market and caravan station.  People from Foča began to trade, initially with people from Dubrovnik(5). Local traders were most active in Foča, where they were most numerous (82)(6), while in terms of indebtedness(7) they were third only to the merchants of Prača and Drijevo. Referring business one to another, the merchants of Foča joined forces and entered into joint debts(8) to Dubrovnik merchants(9); established merchants would often act as guarantors for new ones.  They supplied animal products and wax to Dubrovnik, and imported cloth to eastern Bosnia(10). The large quantities of cloth that were imported testify to the advanced level of economic development of mediaeval Foča as well as to the requirements and purchasing power of its inhabitants.  The presence of merchants from Dubrovnik in Foča increased the importance of the town itself(11),  which by the 15th century had become the largest trading centre in eastern Bosnia, with Dubrovnik goldsmiths also working in Foča(12) . Some merchants had working capital in excess of 1,000 ducats(13). Merchants travelled frequently, staying in different places, doing business simultaneously in two places(14), formed joint trading links with merchants from other places(15),  and in so doing enhanced trading exchanges between various places, taking them out of their traditional isolation.  In Foča, grain surpluses produced in the region were accumulated, wax, leather and other animal products were traded, and the tailor’s craft was referred to as “widespread among the local people.” (16) 

It was in the Ottoman period, (17) however, that it truly flourished, particularly from the second half of the 15th to the end of the 16th century. During that time it was transformed(18)    from a small town or kasaba to a major town or šeher and an important administrative centre in Herzegovina(19) .

In the 18th century the town of Foča ceased expanding, and the endowments(20) (a mosque, medresa, fountain, caravanserai, hamam, tekke, clock tower and shops) of Mehmed-paša Kukavica were built within the existing urban fabric(21).

Among the many Bosnian governors of the last three centuries of Ottoman rule in Bosnia, Mehmed paša Kukavica occupies a prominent place. He was twice governor of Bosnia for a total of six and a half years (1752-1756 and 1757-1760).  During almost his entire rule, the Bosnian pashaluk was troubled by uprisings and unrest in the country, and Pasha Kukavica personally led several campaigns against the insurgents.  At the same time, he had built around Bosnia, at his own expense and at incredible speed, a great many endowments – public buildings of general benefit to the people.  He built more than 80 such edifices in eight different towns, as well as ensuring sources of funds to maintain the buildings and pay the wages of their officials. Four of these were mosques, and there were also a medresa, four mektebs, five bridges, one sabilj (kiosk-shaped fountain), four drinking fountains, three caravanserais, one hamam, and one bezistan with several shops.  These buildings were erected in Foča, Goražde, Prijepolje, Sarajevo, Visoko, Travnik and two villages near Travnik, Vitez and Slimeni.  His work in this field was all the more important given that all these buildings were erected at a time when Ottoman power was waning. Mehmed-paša is also important for the history of Bosnia because he was of local origin and because he had descendants in Bosnia, some of whom also played an important part in the public and administrative life of Bosnia in their day. Mehmed paša first entered service in Bosnia, and then moved to Istanbul, where he rapidly gained promotion to vizier or pasha with three horsetails.  Mehmed Süreyya notes that Mehmed-paša was taken as ćehaja by Hekim-oglu Ali Pasha when he was governor of Bosnia.  Later, at court in Istanbul, he was promoted to the rank of kapici-başa, and in Rabi’ al-ahara 1163 AH (between 10 March and 7 April 1750) he became serçavuş or çavuşbaşa (head of court ceremonial).  At the end of September 1752 Kukavica was transferred to Bosnia with the same rank as the Sultan’s special envoy (memur), charged with restoring law and order.  In Jumada 1166 (April 1753) Mehmed -paša acquired his third horsetail and thereby the title of vizier.  According to Mehmed Süreyya, Mehmed-paša left Bosnia in Muharram 1174 (13 August to 11 September 1760), initially as governor in Janin (Epirus), but was later, in Jumada-l-ahara (8 January to 5 February 1761), stripped of all his ranks and banished to Resmo (Retimo) in Crete, where he was killed. (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, pp. 77-114)

According to the tarih (chronogram) incised on a stone slab measuring 50 x 50 cm(22)    which was built into the wall above the entrance door, the mosque of Mehmed-paša Kukavica was built in 1165 AH (1751/52) and was the last mosque to be built in Foča. 

The inscription, in the form of a poem, is in Turkish, in nasta’liq script in four Turkish couplets:

            “Statesman hajji Mehmed,

            Çavuşbaşa of the sultan of the worlds, Sultan Mahmud,

            Built in Foča a handsome mosque,

            For which may the Almighty reward him.

            O Lord, grant the benefactor a long life.

            He built several similar high mosques.

            The supplicant expresses a full chronogram to it:

            Is not this mosque a fine, attractive place:

            Year 1165.” (1751/52)

The hijra year is both incised in numerals below the text of the inscription and expressed in abjad in the last half couplet(23) .

After World War II it was confiscated from the owners and used as a store for building materials, but was later restored to the Islamic Community.  There were no funds for repairs to the building, so that in the last decade or two before the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina only essential repairs were carried out: the walls and dome were reinforced with a reinforced concrete ring, the dome was covered with sheet copper and the minaret was repaired and covered.  The mosque did not have its own harem.  Behind the mosque, by the wall, was the grave of Hajdar Tafra of Foča, killed outside the mosque in 1941 and buried there by women.

Those who prayed in this mosque were the merchants and artisans from the čaršija, travellers staying in the hans of Foča, and pupils from the medresa.

The medresa of hajji Mehmed-paša Kukavica was also the last medresa to be built in Foča.  It was completed in 1758, and stood beside the founder's mosque in the Upper čaršija, forming a wing to the left of the mosque courtyard occupying the entire distance from the street, to the north-west, to the mosque, to the north-east.  There is documentary evidence that the medresa was repaired in 1845 at a cost of 41 groschen(24). In 1899 the medresa was enlarged by adding a new wing to the right of the mosque courtyard.  As time passed the left wing became dilapidated, and in 1926 the vakuf carried out thorough repairs to it(25) .

Before the Mehmed-paša medresa was built, there were already at least two medresas in Foča, but both had become dilapidated before Kukavica's medresa was built. The Mehmed-paša medresa, built immediately after the mosque, was for a time the only such institution in Foča.  Members of the Foča family Muftić served there as teachers, and were also muftis of Foča and shaykhs of the tekke Pod Borom.  During World War II the medresa stopped working altogether, and in the 1950s and 1960s it barely kept going, so low were its revenues(26). As time passed the left wing of the medresa became dilapidated, and in 1926 it was thoroughly renovated, with changes even to the ground plan.  The new layout, which different somewhat from the old, is shown on the attached ground plan. The left wing of the medresa became completely dilapidated during World War II.

The last pupils there were the late Uzeir Aganović and Edhem Muftić, and Abdulah efendija Budimlija, the last surviving pupil, while the last muderis in the medresa was hajji hafiz Hamid efendija Muftić. Education in the medresa lasted five years(27). The names of some of the lecturers in the medresa are also known(28).

The mosque building was dynamited, and the medresa, abdesthana and muderis' apartment were set on fire, all on the same day, 28 May 1992.  Ten years later, in the autumn of 2002, the dome collapsed.


2. Description of the property

            The mosque of Mehmed-paša Kukavica belongs to the typological group of single-space domed mosques with open exterior portico.

The mosque has solid stone walls about 115 cm thick, constructed of cut stone on the inside and outside, as seen in vertical section, the space between filled by pebbles and quarry stone, with lime mortar used as binder(29). Within the actual structure of the walls, timber tie beams(30) are placed every approx. 80 to 120 cm in height, in the form of three parallel oak beams (average section 10 x 10 cm approx.) which are set along the entire length of the walls and interlinked by transverse wooden joints.

The interior of the covered space is roughly square, measuring approx. 8.80 x 8.96 m, with walls approx. 115 cm thick, constituting a body measuring approx. 11.10 x 11.26 x 7.70 m.  The mosque had two interior sofas (each of which was approx. 165 cm wide and approx. 370-375 cm long, and raised above floor level by approx. +30 cm) with a 155 cm wide passage between them and a mahfil (dimensions approx. 155 cm x 895 cm) from which the minaret was reached.

The drum was octagonal in plan.  The walls of the drum were approx. 80 cm thick, the height approx. 180 cm, and its interior diameter approx. 880 cm.  The transition from the square ground plan of the central area to the circular drum(31) was effected via the four hemispherical trompes or squinches(32) emphasized by pointed frontal arches (the inside width of the arches is approx. 345 cm and the inside height of the top of the arch approx. 205 cm) and eight pendentives(33), also emphasized by blind pointed arches.  The start of the drum is emphasized in the interior by a simple string course approx. 15 cm high, set at a height of approx. +750 cm (measured from the floor of the mosque to the base of the string course), with a similar string course separating the drum from the dome (the height of this string course to the highest point of the inside of the dome is approx. 400 cm and the circular base of the dome has a radius of approx. 440 cm).

Judging from the remains of the mosque as seen, the dome was built of stone, but among the fallen remains of the dome parts of a thin concrete screed was also found, on which hydroinsulation had been laid, and there was also evidence of a reinforced concrete ring set around the crown of the drum(34) to reinforce and add rigidity to the dome(35). On the exterior the drum forms an octagonal prism.

The windows in the facades of the building were set in four horizontal rows.  In the first, there were two rectangular windows (approx. 115 cm wide x 160 cm high) on each facade, with stone windowjambs and wrought iron bars on the outside.  Inside, above the first row of windows, pointed relieving arches were constructed, indicated in relief (the surface below each arch was set back a few centimetres from the wall surface, like the rectangular wall surface between the first and second rows of windows).  The second row of windows (approx. 90 x 205 cm) terminated in pointed arches executed in Turkish brick (tubla) and were set vertically above the windows in the first row, except that there were no windows in the second row on the entrance, north-west facade.  The third row of windows (approx. 85 x 170 cm) were set in the upper reaches of the body of the mosque, one at the centre of each wall, again with none on the entrance, north-west facade.  The fourth row of windows were set in the axis of each wall face of the drum with pointed arches (75 cm wide x 140 cm high).

The system of horizontal wooden tie beams adding rigidity to the walls and the building as a whole continued all the way round, so that the oak tie beams were visible in the window apertures of the second, third and fourth rows of windows.

Outside the entrance portal of the mosque was a portico with exterior sofas (both left and right sofas had the same dimensions, appox. 4.40 x 4.40 m, and were raised about 50 cm above ground level).  The sofas had wooden board floors. Judging from photographs of the building before it was destroyed in 1992(36), the sofas had a three-pitched roof frame(37) clad with sheet metal, with the ridge of this roof set immediately below the terminal moulded string course of the top of the main body of the mosque, at a height of approx. +7.30 m(38), and the eaves of the roof of the sofas were at a height of approx. +4.15 m above ground level.  The ceiling joists of the sofas were set crossways in relation to the portico, at a height of approx. 410 cm from the wooden floor of the sofas (the portico measures approx. 4.40 x 11.25 m) and wedged(39)  into the north-west wall of the mosque at approx. 60 – 70 cm apart; the underside was then covered with a wooden šiše ceiling(40). The wooden construction of the canopy roof rested on 8 wooden pillars (3+3 on the front of the portico and two corner pillars by the mosque walls) with an average cross-section of 16 x 16 cm.  Moulded wooden arcades(41) were set between the pillars of the portico at a height of their upper quarter.  The entrance to the central mosque area was emphasized by a portal approx. 240 cm wide and approx. 445 cm high.  The actual entrance aperture(42) measured approx 155 cm wide x 235 cm high.

The inside height of the mosque was 13.50 m from floor level to the highest point of the interior of the dome.  All the interior wall surfaces were plastered and whitewashed, and both the remains of the walls of the demolished buildings and photographs dating from 2001(43) show that the interior was partly painted: there were eight elliptical copper plaques with calligraphic inscriptions in the fields of the drum between the windows, and the area around these plaques was decorated with painted geometric and floral designs executed in red and light yellow; there was one circular copper plaque (diameter 35-40 cm) with calligraphic inscriptions in each pendentive, and one larger circular copper plaque (diameter 85-90 cm) in each of the trompes, again with calligraphic inscriptions.

There was a mahfil inside the building, above the entrance portal and extending the entire length of the north-west wall, reached via a single-flight staircase set against the wall to the right of the entrance door.  The mahfil rested on six wooden pillars(44). 

Judging from existing technical drawings, the mihrab niche was semicylindrical in form (radious of the wall niche approx. 60 cm) and vaulted, with a height of approx. 330 cm, and was emphasized by a moulded rectangular frame projecting some 30 cm forward from the wall surface (measuring approx. 230 x 430 cm).  To the right of the mihrab was the mimber (approx 90 cm wide, 360 cm long and 605 cm in height to the top of the pyramidal canopy).

The minaret, which was hexagonal in cross-section(45), was built of cut stone, mounted on a square pedestal measuring approx. 255 x 255 cm.  The height of the minaret can be ascertained from the aerophotogrametric survey of Foča(46).

The descriptions of the interior and exterior of the building in available works are extremely meagre(47) .

A description of the medresa and mekteb is provided in documentary sources describing the state of the building in the 1950s: «Both these institutions were house, of late at least, in a single building. This was a single-storey building of mixed materials, timber and unbaked brick, like the majority of other medresas and mektebs in Bosnia, and extended in a single wing between the mosque and the adjoining street (čaršija), to the left of the mosque courtyard.  By the street itself were two sizeable rooms.  The first and larger housed the mekteb, and the other, immediately adjacent to it, was a dershana or lecture hall where the medresa pupils attended lectures.  From the dershana to the mosque were a number of other rooms (cells) in which the medresa pupils lived...

The last medresa was enlarged by building the present-day right wing.  This was in 1899.  In principle it is similar to the left wing, except that the two larger rooms by the street are built as two storeys, one above the other.  In the ground floor is an open cafe for the surrounding čaršija, with an entrance direct from the street, and the upper room was designed as a dershana.  Here too a row of cells for pupils was built with behind them, against the mosque itself behind the minaret, a kitchen for the pupils.  This section is still relatively well preserved, even though it too is of timber and unbaked brick.

            The left wing, however, deteriorated over time, and in 1926 the vakuf carried out thorough repairs to it.  While it was intact, with the right wing and the mosque it composed an interesting layout, clearly designed to the model of the large medresas of Istanbul and other places in the Orient, where the majority of better medresas were designed in exactly this way, with two wings extending from the mosque on both sides of the courtyard, which was common to the mosque and medresas alike.  There are no other examples of this kind elsewhere in Bosnia» (Bejtić, Alija:1956-1957, pp. 92-93).

            According to a ground plan of the complex of the mosque and medresa(48), the left wing of the medresa measured approx. 5.40 +1.25 (pent roof) with a length of approx. 26 m, with the right wing about 20.70 m long and approx. 5.25 m wide, with a porch approx. 130 cm wide.  At the mosque end of the left wing was a kitchen about 4.50 m long.  The left and right wings of the medresa enclosed, with the mosque, a cobbled courtyard which had a wall on the street side in which was an arched entrance gate(49). The medresa buildings were roofed with hollow tiles.


3. Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 1312/50 of 09.10.1950, the building was placed under state protection.  The 1980 Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina listed the building as a Category II cultural and historical property.

            At a session held on 14 June 2000 the Commission adopted a decision to add the Mehmed-paša Kukavica mosque from Foča/Srbinje to the Provisional List of National Monuments, under the heading “Remains of the Kukavica mosque,” serial no. 212.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

There is no information available on conservation and restoration works carried out.  Between the technical survey of the building conducted in 1974 and the last decade of the 20th century, various works were carried out to consolidate the building structurally (see in greater detail in the Description of the Property).


5. Current condition of the property

            The Mehmed-paša Kukavica mosque was dynamited on 28 May 1992.  The minaret was completely destroyed, as were the interior of the mosque and the exterior portico with sofas; the medresa, abdesthana and muderis' apartment were set on fire and completely destroyed.  The dome of the mosque finally collapsed completely in the autumn of 2002.

During an on-site visit conducted on 16 February 2004 the following was ascertained:

-     the entire dome collapsed into the interior area of the mosque.  There are piles of fallen stone on the surface of which wedge-shaped pieces of cut tufa can be seen, suggesting that the dome was constructed of tufa.  The piles of fallen stone are very large, and without carefully extracting and sorting this material, it is impossible to ascertain if any fragments of decoration etc. have survived;

-     the entire south-west and south-east walls of the mosque have collapsed, and all that remains of the minaret is the lower part of the stone pedestal.  Part of the drum structure has survived above the north-west and north-east walls, and the remains of the sheet copper cladding of the dome can be seen.  In the part of the drum that has not yet fallen the remains of painted wall decorations can be seen, and on the surviving structures of the walls, pendentives, trompes and drum the elliptical and circular copper plaques with calligraphic inscriptions still stand;

-     there are no visible remains of the medresa.  The site of the complex of the mosque and medresa of Mehmed-paša Kukavica is not fenced off, and nor are the remains of the mosque protected from further deterioration.



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

D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

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

G. Authenticity

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling


            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 architectural ensemble of the mosque and medresa of Mehmed-paša Kukavica in Foča/Srbinje as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the following works were consulted:            


1925     Jeremić, Risto: Has Hoča, Journal of the Geographical Society, Vol 11, Belgrade, 1925,


1956-57 Bejtić, Alija: Bosanski namjesnik Mehmed paša Kukavica i njegove zadužbine u Bosni (1752-1756 i 1757-1760), (Bosnian governor Mehmed pasha Kukavica and his endowments in Bosnia) Contributions to oriental philology, Sarajevo, 1956-1957, Nos. VI-VII


1963     Anđelić, Pavao: Trgovište, varoš i grad u srednjevekovnoj Bosni (Market places, towns and forts in mediaeval Bosnia), Journal of the National Museum, archaeology, Sarajevo, 1963,


1972     Andrejević, Andrej: Aladža džamija u Foči (The Aladža mosque in Foča), Belgrade, 1972


1974     Architectural drawings of the mosque (ground plan and section), Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH, Sarajevo, Architecture studio, June 1974


1978     Kovačević - Kojić, Desanka: Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države (Urban settlements of the mediaeval Bosnian state), Sarajevo, 1978


1983     Redžić, Husref: Studije o islamskoj arhitektonskoj baštini (Studies on the Islamic architectural heritage) Cultural Heritage Series,  Sarajevo,  1983


1983     Various authors (Academician Prof. Husref Redžić, Docent Nedžad Kurto MA, Ferid Isanović): Program revitalizacije i regeneracije istorijskog područja grada Foče. Urbanističko-arhitektonsko rješenje zone Prijeke čaršije (Programme for the revitalization and regeneration of the historic area of the town of Foča. Town planning and architectural proposal for the Prijeka čaršija area) Assembly of Foča Municipality, Foča, 1983.


1997     Muftić, Faruk: Foča: 1470-1996, Sarajevo, 1997


1998     Mujezinović, Mehmed: Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic epigraphics of BiH), Vol 2, Eastern and Central Bosnia, 3rd ed, Sarajevo, 1998


(1) The earliest reference to Hoča as a market place (mercatum) dates from 1366.  Dubrovnik sources refer to a merchant by the name of Nikola Prodešić from Drina, whereas the Ottomans, after occupying eastern Bosnia, called the Foča kadiluk the Drina kadiluk. (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države, Sarajevo, 1978, p. 42)

“On p. 40 of his Handelsstrassen, Jireček notes that a report on the travels of a Dubrovnik envoy to Herceg refers to Hoča on 19 December 1451. The name Drina was used by the neighbouring Pivljani, Drobljani and regions from Gacko to Dubrovnik for the valley of the upper Drina. The region appears to have been so named in mediaeval times as well: in a Dubrovnik record dated 3 June 1367 there is a reference to Brajanus Osrich de Drina, Mon. reg. IV, 94-Zlaća u Drinče, Mikl. Mon. Serb. 544” (Jeremić, Risto: Has Hoča, Journal of the Geographical Society, Vol 11, Belgrade, 1925, p. 94)     

(2) it is in a defter of 1519 that the name Hoča is first replaced by Foča (Redžić, Husref: Studije o islamskoj arhitektonskoj baštini, Sarajevo,  1983, p. 324)

(3) A trgovište is the part of a mediaeval township where the shops and workshops of merchants and artisans are located, and a sizeable open space for weekly fairs. (Anđelić, Pavao: Trgovište, varoš i grad u srednjevkekovnoj Bosni, Jnl. Nat.Mus, archaeology, Sarajevo, 1963, p. 181)

(4) Redžić, Husref: 1983, pp. 317-343

(5) Members of the Nartičić were particularly successful as merchants. Documents dating from 1366 in the Historical Archives of Dubrovnik refer to the brothers Nartičić, Mirko Nartičić, and the brothers Sorčić.  Other traders referred to (with details concerning their name, indebtedness and term of debt) are: Radič Miomanović with debts from 1440-1448 of 801 ducats 57 perpera; Radoje Dubijević, 1420-1435, 686 ducats and 1.225 perpera; Milj Božićković, 1433-1440, 620 ducats and 408 perpera; Radivoj Crijepović, 1430-1422, 499 ducats and 217 perpera; Tvrdiša Mirušković, 1426-1438, 482 ducats and 216 perpera; Milut Tvrdisavić, 1441-1448, 342 ducats; Radoslav Pribičević, 1431-1440, 273 ducats; Vukoslav Novaković, known as Pupelja, 1426-1435, 229 ducats and 160 perpera; Radoje Dubijević, 1420-1435, 686 ducats and 1.225 perpera; Radeta Crijepović, 1420-1445, 226 ducats and 514 perpera; Brajan Brateljević, 1432-1435, 195 ducats; Cvjetko Stanisalić, 1445, 181 ducats; Radonja Ljubinović, 1426-1435, 176 ducats 240 perpera; Vuketa Bogdanović, 1442-1449, 165 ducats; Božidar Radmilović, 1441-1446, 148 ducats and 26 perpera; Miroslav Prodašić, 1401-1402, 131 ducats and 54 perpera; Stojislav Prodašić, 1401-1402, 131 ducats and 54 perpera; Radonja Grasac, 1430-1442, 122 ducats and 72 perpera; Tvrdiša Stojanović, 1427-1430, 121 ducats and 2 perpera; Radivoj Brajaković, 1432-1441, 112 ducats and 2 perpera (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države, Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo, 1978, pp. 43-44, 174-175) .

(6) by way of comparison, in the same period there were 44 merchants in Goražde, 35 in Cernica, 11 in Višegrad, 13 in Tjentišto, 7 in Borač and 3 in Ustokolina (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.108)

(7) Details of total indebtedness of merchants from eastern Bosnia to Dubrovnik merchants from 1400 to 1463:   Goražde 4.735 ducats and 2.052 perpera, Cernica 903 ducats and 4.183 perpera, Višegrad 1.019 ducats and 45 perpera, Tjentište 918 ducats and 489 perpera, Borač 86 ducats and 307 perpera and Ustikolina 97 ducats and 176 perpera (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, pp.108, 168-173).

(8) In 1366, Obrad Nartičić and his sons Radoslav and Obrad entered into debt to Dubrovnik merchants (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.177).

(9) In the mediaeval period, trade in the Balkans was based on credit, and Dubrovnik was a major centre of credit-based trade in the Balkans (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.167).

(10) Large quantities of cloth were imported in particular to Visoko, Foča and Goražde. Merchants from Foča purchased fabric from Mantua (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, pp.193-194).

(11) Between 1422 and 1448, 95 merchants from Dubrovnik spent time in Foča, 22 of them more than once.  It should also be noted that there was a colony of Dubrovnik merchants only in Foča, but that individuals could be found in Borač, and rarely in Goražde and Višegrad.

(12) Goldsmiths from Dubrovnik worked in all the better-known towns of mediaeval Bosnia (Prača, Foča, Kreševo and Goražde) (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.202).

(13) Obrad Nartičić’s capital between 1396 and 1404 reached a level of 1.117 ducats and 88 groschen (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.177)

(14) in 1394 Radoslav Sorčić was said to be from Ustikolina, and in 1396 he was recorded as a merchant from Foča (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.188).

(15) Vukosav Novaković of Goražde had a guarantor from Foča, and Radoslav Veseoković of Foča had one from Cernica. Vučeta Bogavčić of Foča joined forces with a merchant from Tjentište, and Vuk Baličević of Foča did business jointly with Radič Milobratović of Cernica (Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.189).

(16) Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka: 1978, p.216

(17) Andrejević, Andrej: Aladža džamija u Foči, Belgrade, 1972, pp.19-21

The Ottomans took Foča in 1465. (Redžić, Husref: 1983, p.325)

(18) Evidence of changes to the population make-up of Hoča and the urban transformation of the settlement are provided by Ottoman defters (censuses):

  • Defter of the Bosnian sandžaka 1468/69
  • Defter of the Herzegovina sandžaka 1477
  • Defter of the Herzegovina sandžaka 1519
  • Defter of the Herzegovina sandžaka 1585
  • Defter of the Vakuf of Ismail-Čelebija in Foča 1664
  • Census of Has Foča 1468/69 (published by Ćiro Truhelka and Risto Jeremić) Redžić, Husref: Studije o islamskoj arhitektonskoj baštini, Sarajevo, 1983, p. 322

(19) In 1470 the Herzegovina sandžak was separated from the Bosnian sandžak, with its seat in Foča until 1574, with breaks in 1522-30 and 1533, when the Herzegovina sandžak was headquartered in Mostar (Redžić, Husref: 1983, p.322)

(20) The original of Mehmed-paša’s vakufnama has not survived. A notarized Latin-script transcript of the vakufnama is held in the Vakuf Directorate in Sarajevo (vakufnama file, no. 696). The transcript originates from the defteri-hakaniye in Istanbul and was made in or slightly earlier than 1939 at the request of the Vakuf Directorate in Sarajevo or Mehmed-paša’s descendants for the purposes of a dispute that had been on-going for a long time between his descendants and the Vakuf Directorate.  The file with a large number of documents relating to the dispute and including interesting details of Mehmed paša’s vakuf is numbered 15.107of the year 1939.

The vakufnama is dated 15 Dhu l-Qa’dah 1171, i.e. 21 July 1758, the date when Mehmed paša legalized it in the sarai (sarayi alide) of the Bosnian vali in Travnik before the Travnik judge in the presence of the muteveli, one Ali-efendi, son of Husejnbeg.  The document reveals that he had erected at his own cost and endowed on that date the following buildings:

  1. a mosque in the kasaba Foča
  2. a medresa in Foča
  3. a mekteb in Foča
  4. a drinking fountain (sebili abi leziz) in Foča
  5. the great bridge over the Drina in Foča
  6. the great bridge over the Cehotina in Foča
  7. the great bridge on the Lim in the Prijepolje kadiluk
  8. the great bridge over the Drina in the kasaba of Goražde, kadiluk Čajniče
  9. the great bridge over the river Bosna in the kasaba of Visoko, kadiluk Sarajevo
  10. a mosque in Durađžik-mahala in Sarajevo
  11. a mekteb in the same mahala
  12. a sebilj (sebilhane) (kiosk-shaped public fountain) in Sarajevo
  13. a mosque in the kasaba of Travnik
  14. a mekteb in the same town
  15. three fountains (sebili abu revan) in the same town
  16. a mekteb in the village of Vitez in kadiluk Travnik
  17. a mosque in the village of Slimeni in the same kadiluk

The legator further built and endowed the following for the maintenance of these endowments:

  1. a caravanserai in Foča
  2. a hamam in the same town
  3. seven shops in the same town
  4. Čifluk (land holding) Mokro in the Sarajevo kadiluku, which he possessed pursuant to an imperial temlikname
  5. two caravanserais in the kasaba of Prijepolje
  6. a shop in the same town
  7. a bezistan (covered market, suq) in Travnik and two separate shops in the same town

The legator stipulated that the mutevelijas of the vakuf should be his direct descendants, and left these provisions on the payment of officials and other costs:

Officials and buildings in Foča

From the rent of profit-making properties, for the:

1. second imam .                . daily               5 akči

2. second muezzin                                       2

3. Feraš and kajim                                      3

4. Devrihan                                                  2

5. second devrihanu                                   1,5

6. Muderis                . . .                             10

7. Mualim                                                     5             

8. Vaiz . . .                                                     5             

9. mosque doorman                                    3             

10. Džabija                                                  3             

11. for rushes & candles in the mosque10

12. Sujoldžija                                               3             

13. for maintenance of water pipes           2

14. for maintenance of mosque p.a.        50 groschen

15. for maintenace of bridge on Drina    10

16. ditto for bridge on Cehotina              10 .

From the revenues of gypsy jizya (cebran cizyesi) of the Bosnian eyalet, gifted to the legator by berat, for the:

1.                Imam                       daily                 6 akči

2.                Hatib                                                5

3.                Vaiz                                                  5

4.                first muezzin                                   4

5.                Mualim                                           6

6.                Fera                                                 4

7.                for lighting the mosque               6

8.                for maintenance of water pipes

              and fountains                                     7

From the revenues of the Herzegovina vojnugan-mukata

                1.            Kurrā-u daily                                    20 akči

Following these provisions on the wages of officials and maintenance of the buildings the legator separately stipulated that each year the surplus revenue after payment of officials’ wages and maintenance costs for the buildings be divided in equal shares between his direct descendants, both male and female.

In this clause of the vakufnama the legator thus defined the nature of his vakuf as regards the use of revenues; gave it the nature of an evladijet-vakuf, i.e. a vakuf under the terms of which the legator’s descendants have the right to enjoy certain benefits. In this case, Mehmed-paša’s descendants have the right to  fazl i.e. surplus revenue. It was also stipulated that in the event of a surplus of funds allocated for the maintenance (repair) of buildings this surplus should be added to the capital.  Finally, it stipulates that the hasbi-naziri or honorary supervisors of the vakuf should be Bosnia’s valis.

 (Details from Bejtić, Alija: Bosanski namjesnik Mehmed paša Kukavica i njegove zadužbine u Bosni (1752-1756 i 1757-1760), Prilozi za orijentalnu filologiju, Sarajevo, 1956-1957, Broj VI-VII, pp. 77-114)

(21) Redžić, Husref: 1983, p.331

(22) (Mujezinović, Mehmed: Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, Vol 2, E and C Bosnia, 3rd ed, Sarajevo, 1998, pp. 55-56)

(23) (Mujezinović, Mehmed: Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, Vol 2, E and C Bosnia, 3rd ed, Sarajevo, 1998, pp. 55-56)

(24) (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, p. 92)

(25) (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, p. 93)

(26) (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, p. 93)

(27)They told me that education in the medresa lasted five years, and that those who enrolled in first grade in 1934/35 completed senior grade in 1938/39.” (Muftić, Faruk: Foča: 1470-1996, Sarajevo, 1997, p. 145)

(28) “The Qur’an karim, qirayet were taught by Muhamed ef. Bjelan and Džafer ef. Kurspahić. The history of Islam was taught by Mehmed ef. Bahtić and Ahmed ef. Selimović, and Turkish by Murat ef. Muftić and Ahmed ef. Selimović. Natural studies, botany and zoology was taught by Enver ef. Dizdar and Mustafa ef. Alajbegović; geography by Enver ef. Lojo, German by Mr Milan Vojvodić, and Serbo-Croatian by Mr. Miloš Brajević. They could not remember the other teachers, but said that to qualify to enrol in the medresa one had to have completed four-grade primary school and have a good basic grounding from the mekteb. There was no separate section for girls in the medresa.” (Muftić, Faruk: 1997, pp. 145-146)

(29) see photographs of the current state of the building, taken on 16.02.2004.

(30) A system of horizontal interlinked wooden beams set along the entire length of the building in bands every approx. 80-120 cm in height, designed to add rigidity to the horizontal surface of the walls and of the building as a whole (see photographs of the current state of the building, taken on 16.02.2004).

(31) the drum is cylindrical in the interior and forms an octagonal prism on the exterior

(32) trompes are funnel-shaped vaulted niches above the angles of a square body (Werner Mueller, Gunther Vogel: Atlas arhitekture, Vol 1, Zagreb, 2000, pp. 48-49 “An arch, or a system of concentrically wider and gradually projecting arches, placed at the corners of a square base to act as the transition to a circular dome placed on the base” Glossary of Mediaeval Art and Architecture)

(33) pendentives are stereotomic spherical triangles (Werner Mueller, Gunther Vogel: 2000, p. 48) (“A spherical triangle which acts as a transition between a circular dome and a square base on which the dome is set.” Glossary of Mediaeval Art and Architecture)

(34) see photographs of the current state of the building, taken on 16.02.2004, when an on site inspection of the condition of the building was conducted

(35) during the on site inspection of the building, the use of concrete wall infill was observed in two places on the wall surface between the first and second rows of windows (one on the north east façade and the other on the south east) with an area of approx 1 sq.m. probably applied to reinforce the wall structure (see photographs of the current state of the building, taken on 16.02.2004, when an on site inspection of the condition of the building was conducted)

(36) photographs:

  • Republic Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH
  • Gazi Husrev beg library (GHB) in Sarajevo

(37) Some authors hypothesize that the entrance portico might originally have been covered by stone domes set on stone pillars:  “…In the portico, instead of the stone pillars and domes above, there is now an ordinary pent roof on a system of roughly dressed wooden pillars, which clash with the stone walls and great dome above them of the building itself.  I doubt if the portico was originally of this type.  The original construction must have given way, and the domes and stone pillars which were too short for a pent roof, would have been replaced with the present materials...” (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, p. 91)

(38) all the dimensions given in the textual section are taken from architectural drawings of the mosque (ground plan and cross section, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Architecture studio, June 1974) unless otherwise indicated in the text

(39) see photographs of the current state of the building, taken on 16.02.2004

(40) the wooden šiše ceiling can be seen on a photograph obtained from GHB in Sarajevo

(41) the appearance of these arcades is shown on a photograph obtained from GHB in Sarajevo

(42) from the description by architect Alija Bejtić of the entrance area: “The entrance leading from the portico into the interior of the mosque lacks the wealth of architectural decor of our older mosques, but still attracts attention with the workmanship of the wooden wings of the doors.  Both wings are decorated over their entire surface with a row of tasteful squares, harmoniously extending in every direction, and sizeable rosettes in the form of a full-blown flower in the centre of each square.  The entire composition gives an image of fine values. The squares are executed by an inlay of slats into the base, and the rosettes by hollowing out into the base using a carpenter’s chisel. The first motif belongs to the inventory of oriental art, where intarsia was highly developed and spread with the Turks to our part of the world, but the motif of the rosette is entirely of original, local conception.  This latter motif is encountered in many places in the houses of Foča, where it is reliably known that they were executed by local craftsmen from the immediate environs of Foča, and in consequence this ornament on the mosque doors was also worked by the hand of these same craftsmen.” (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, pp. 91-92)

(43) photographed in June 2001 by architect Ferhad Mulabegović,

(44) “…It rests on wooden pillars with moulded bases and carved corbels.” (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, p. 92)

(45) visible on old photographs from the Gazi Husrev beg library (GHB) in Sarajevo

(46) Between 1970 and 1980 the Geodetic Institute of BiH conducted an aerophotogrametric survey of the municipalities of BiH.

(47) “…the MOSQUE was built in the business quarter of old Foča, in the Prijeka čaršija. It stands on a plateau above the present-day administrative centre of the town and, with its stone minaret and the nearby Imperial mosque, dominates the entire area.  It is of massive construction with a well-shaped dome above the central area and a tall cut stone minaret.  In ground plan it is a perfect square, like almost all our domed mosques, with an interior axis of 9.05 m. . . the interior of the mosque is adorned with a mihrab and mimber of quite modest dimensions but with much greater pretensions to artistic expression than we find at the entrance.  To the rear of the area, above the entrance and along the entire width between the side walls, is a mahfil, a gallery resembling a choir, which greatly enlarges the area of the mosuqe. . . Although the mosque was built at a time of abrupt decline in Turkish art throughout the state, it nonetheless shows that the craftsmen who made it still had an evolved sense of form.  There is clear evidence of this in the tall minaret, which rises to the right of the building from a square stone pedestal, and in the dome, the shape of which closely approximates to a perfect sphere.  Although there is no ornamental musculature below the šerefe on the minaret and the string course below the down on the exterior, both these features are elegant and striking to the onlooker in their size and proportions …” (Bejtić, Alija: 1956-1957, pp. 91-92)

(48) Muftić, Faruk: Foča: 1470-1996, Sarajevo, 1997, pp. 145

(49) from old photographs (source GHB Sarajevo and Ayverdi: photographs 207.R. and 210.R.)

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