Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Old Visoki fort, 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 2 to 8 March 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The historic site of the old Visoki fort is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on the summit of Visočica hill, on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 4702, cadastral municipality Visoko, Visoko Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

             The National Monument consists of the ruins of the old Visoki fort and the archaeological material in the ground, together with the movable items found on the archaeological site and now in the collections of Museums XY, as listed in the inventories of the said museums.

            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 and display the National Monument.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the conservation and presentation 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 archaeological sitge from the summit of Visočica hill 766.5 to contour line 750, on the the area designated as c.p. no. 4702.  The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

-         all works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,

-         all works that could have the effect of altering the site are prohibited, as are the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not intended solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument,

-         the removal of stone and further damage to the site is prohibited

-         the dumping of waste is prohibited;

-         the walls shall be cleared of vegetation and soil posing a danger to the structure of the monument and presenting an obstacle to the proper presentation of the monument;

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




            The removal of the archaeological material specified in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable items for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Permission for the temporary removal of the items from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the items in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the items, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            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 Federation 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 VI 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: 05.1-2-1047/04-2

2 March 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.

           At a session held from 1 to 2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the historic site of the old Visoki fort, Visoko Municipality to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 763, under the name Old Visoki Fort.

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:

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

-         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.

-         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 historic site of the old Visoki fort is on the summit of Visočice hill, at an altitude of 766.50 m, about 300 m above the valley in which the town of Visoko developed.  The Visoko plain is the meeting point of natural routes, surrounded by low hills, so that the plain is open on all sides.  The fort was built on the most prominent elevation among the slopes of the mountain chain surrounding the Bosna river valley to the south where it broadens into the Visoko plain. The town of Visoko grew up to the north west of the Fort, in the Visoko plain, by the left bank of the river Fojnica close to its confluence with the Bosna. Access to the old Visoki fort is from the south-west, from a plateau some 60 cm below it.  There are sources of potable water in the nearby village known as Grad («Fort»), about 600 m west of this plateau.


Historical information

            In early mediaeval times the Visoko plain was part of the Bosna župa, one of seven župas of the early Bosnian state, from the 10th to the late 12th century.

            P. Anđelić (1984, 105) hypothesized that there was a settlement on the site of present-day  Visoko or somewhere in the Visoko plain, and a smaller territorial and political unit named Bosna in early mediaeval times, i.e. from the 10th to the 12th century, when the region around Visoko was the geographical and economic centre of inner Bosnia. Since the political capital of the state was located here during the reign of Ban Kulin and later in the 14th century, there are «no reasons to believe that in the early mediaeval period the same held good in the formation of the political centre in the most favourable geographical and economic conditions.»  In a census by the suffragan of the Split Archbishopric dating from the second half of the 11th century there is reference to the Bosnian bishopric and its see, «civitas Bosna», and as is known it was a lasting rule of ecclesiastical organization for bishops to have a permanent see in a settlement that «must not be insignificant.»  As a result, from the founding of the Bosnian bishopric until 1234 and the appointment of Bishop Ivan, the see of the Bosnian bishopric was in inner Bosnia, in the immediate vicinity of Visoko (P. Anđelić,, 1984, 124, 127-128).  There is evidence dating from the later mediaeval period that the elders of the diocesan church hierarchy, as well as high dignitaries of the Bosnian church, had their permanent see in the environs of Visoko (P. Anđelić,  1984, 105-106, and nn 1-10).  In the late 12th century, a church was built in nearby Biskupići, of which the founder was Ban Kulin (Anđelić 1984, 127). Later, in the first half of the 14th century, there was a house (hiža) of the Bosnian Church in nearby Moštre, where “all the  Bosnian Church”, i.e. all its leading figures, conducted their public affairs (P. Anđelić, 1984, 125).

            A number of documents from the Ban's and court chancelleries are known from the 14th and 15th centuries, relating to the economic activities of Dubrovnik and local traders in Podvisoki, written in various places in the Visoko plain – the fort itself or the township below, Podvisoki (Anđelić, 1984, 133, 138, 140-156).

            The date when the fort was built cannot be determined with certainty.  The primary function of the fort was defensive. The summit of Visočice was the most favourable position in inner Bosnia in earliest times; it could be used to survey the area bounded by Mounts Romanija, Jahorina, Treskavica and Bjelašnica to the east and south east, Bitovnje to the south, Mount Zec and Vranica to the south west, Vlašić to the west, and Tajan and Zvijezda to the north.  Despite this position and its long and important political history, Visoki fort did not evolve into a stronger and strategically more important fortress, as is evident from the size of the fort and the strength of its towers.  The earliest reference to the fort itself, “in castro nosto Visoka vocatum,” is in a charter issued by the young Ban Tvrtko on 1 September 1355, which means that the fort was either built or was already in existence during the reign of his predecessor Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić, in the first half of the 14th century (Anđelić, 1984, 133).  In the Visoko plain at that time there was the Ban’s, later Royal Court in Moštre and houses of krstjani (members of the Bosnian Church), a place for holding assemblies and a Franciscan monastery, and later the coronation church of the Bosnian kings in Mile, from 1377 to 1461.

-         1398 Priboje Masnović, kaštelan (count) of the fort, was admitted as a citizen of Dubrovnik. From this historical source it may be deduced that the seat of the Grand Prince of Bosnia was in the fort itself (Kovačević-Kojić, 1978, 36; Anđelić, 1984, 182).

-         1402 Stjepan Ostoja, king of Bosnia, issued a charter “pod gradom Visoki” (below the Visoko fort) (Anđelić, 1984, 140).

-         1404 King Ostoja issued a charter “pod Visokim” (Anđelić, 1984, 142).

-         1404 two documents were issued “pod gradom Visoki” which were the subject of a court case in Dubrovnik (Anđelić, 1984, 142). During the first half of the 15th century the township of Visoki fort continued to be called both Podvisoki and “pod gradom Visoki” (for example, in charters of King Ostoja of 1409 and Tvrtko II of 1422, and in numerous documents relating mainly to the affairs of merchants). A large colony of Dubrovnik merchants grew up in Podvisoki, where the royal court and was located; the colony remained prosperous until the 1430s.

-         1420 Grand Prince Batić Mirković of Bosnia fell in “in Visoki”, and was buried on his manorial lands in the village of Kopošići near the Dubrovnik fort (Ilijaš municipality) (Vego, 1970, no. 245; Anđelić, 1984, 182).

-         1429 and 1436 Grand Prince Tvrtko Borovinić wrote a document “in Visoki”. This is the last direct documentary reference to Visoki fort (Anđelić, 1984, 183).

            Documentary evidence shows that its political importance far outstripped its defence capacity.  At times it served as the ruler’s official residence.  The basic politial function of the Visoki fort was as the administrative centre of the territorial political unit known as Bosna (Anđelić, 1984, 194), the administration of which, like that of the župa in the very centre of the state territory, was entrusted during the period of the kingdom to the Grand Prince of Bosnia who held court in the Visoki fort.  Below the Visoki fort, as time passed, a township took shape, “one of the oldest and most typical urban agglomerations in mediaeval Bosnia” (Anđelić, 1984, 184).

            The fort was abandoned before 1503, for there is no reference to it in the Turko-Hungarian treaty of that year. In 1626            Đorđić refers to  Visoki as one of several abandoned forts (Kreševljaković 1953, 16).


2. Description of the property

            The old Visoki fort was small in size, with a length of about 60 m and a width of about 25 m, lying south-north.  On each of the western and eastern ramparts it had one flanking tower protecting the entire length of the ramparts.  From the western tower, which was larger and stronger, the main entrance to the fort, the access road and the bridge over the moat south of the fort could be targeted.  The southern part of the fort is quite narrow, about 14 m, and ends with a rounded wall. The main entrance to the fort was in the south-eastern section of the wall.  A section of wall remained by the entrance which is assumed to have terminated at the south-eastern angle of the smaller eastern tower, which is square in shape, with the sides about 8 m long.  If this is so, there must have been yet another entrance in the space between the walls.         There was probably a building of some kind there.  There are the signs of a building measuring 7 x 6 m alongside the inner side of the western rampart about 12 m from the northern corner of the fort.  About 5 m south of this building are the signs of another, also evidenced by archaeological test digs in 1976.  The projecting tower in the western ramparts is rectangular in shape, with exterior dimensions of 11 x 8 m, projecting forward from the line of the wall by 7 m.  The thickness of the walls at the foundation level, to which it is now reduced, is about 2 m, or three mediaeval cubits of 0.68 m.

            The northern rampart of the fort is rounded at both ends and slightly inset at the centre.  Thre is a projecting round tower (diameter approx. 5 m) at the north-eastern end.  From here yet another defence rampart runs down towards the township, protecting the access from the north east.  The tower had multiple functions, first as a watchtower, since it provided a good view of the terrain on three sides around and below the fort and of Kraljevac, the assumed site of the royal court.  The tower flanked the eastern rampart to the projecting square tower and the entire northern rampart.

            The ramparts were built of laminate limestone of local origin, of unequal size and in a few cases roughly cut.  The mortar did not contain the proper proportions of limestone, and the quarry sand used in mixing is quite coarse and of unequal consistency.

            A moat was dug around the entire fort, extending southwards and taking in the two plateaux outside the fort, both of which are about 20 m long.  Yet another moat was dug between them.  This crosswise moat was about 4 m deep and 8-10 m wide at the southern end, and was spanned by a bridge resting on the rock, and by the access road to the main entrance to the fort (Mazalić, 1954, 240-253). 


Movable finds:

            The first movable finds in the fort were discovered during minor test digs in 1976 (Anđelić, 1984, 173-182) on the site of what was assumed to be a building by the western rampart.  Two stages of building were identified.  The older lasted probably until the early 15th century when it was demolished – this was associated with the Hungarians’ ransacking of Bosnia.  Another building was erected on the foundations; when this was ransacked and set on fire is not known.

            During the archaeological works, shards of pottery and glass vessels, stone cannon balls, small iron items (nails, arrowheads, horseshoes, a lock, a key and so on), a sword, and a Dubrovnik groschen dating from 1337-1438 were found.

When a flag was erected in the north-eastern tower of the Visoki fort, certainly prior to 1976, a bone needlebox was found with one iron needle.

            During the 1992-1995 war, while earthworks were being conducted within the ramparts, fragments of architectural components were found about 1.15 m below the present-day ground level: six pieces of the lunette of a Gothic portal (Šahinović, 2001, 388-389), two fragments of door jamb on one of which the figure of a horseman and part of an inscription in Bosnian Cyrillic had been carved; the other bore only a shallow incised inscription in Bosnian Cyrillic.  The inscriptions have not been deciphered (Šahinović, 2001., 390-392).  The finds were transferred to the Regional Museum in Visoko.


3. Legal status to date

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BiH no. 05-IB-512-1/66 of 7 April 1966 in Sarajevo, the old Visoki fort in Visoko was placed under state protection.

            The historic site of the old Visoki fort in Visoko is on the Provisional List of National Monuments under serial no. 763 by the name Old fort Visoki.

            The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists the property as a Category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            In 1889, Đorđe Stratimirović was the first to publish a brief description of the ruins of the old fort.  Although this was only a superficial description it did record certain details that have since disappeared.

            From Truhelka (1904), Jelinić (1906) and Filipović (1927, 1949) to Mazalića (1954) later authors provided no essential information on the old fort.

            Mazalić's detailed description of the ruins in 1954 remains irreplaceable.

            In 1976, experts from the National Museum P. Anđelić) and the Regional museum of Visoko, with financial assistance from SO Visoko, carried out minor test digs on the site of the building by the inside of the western rampart.

            In 1994 there was a chance find of architectural components.


5. Current state of the property

            An on site inspection on 10 December 2003 ascertained as follows:

            The ramparts of the fort are in ruins over most of their length almost down to foundation level, though this can be corroborated only by archaeological excavations.  There are about 1.5 m of remains of the wall in the ground. The lower sections of the flanking towers survive in part.        The entire site is neglected and overgrown with vegetation.



            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. v. value of details

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical change

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of a group or site

G. Authenticity

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.v. location and setting


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings




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

Stratimirović, Đorđe, Grad Visoki (Visoki fort) Journal of the National Museum in Sarajevo I, Sarajevo, 1889, 220.


Truhelka, Ćiro, Naši gradovi, opis najljepših sredovječnih gradova Bosne i Hercegovine (Our forts, description of the finest mediaeval forts of BiH), Sarajevo, 1904, 93-94


Jelinić, fr. Julijan, Kraljevsko Visoko i samostan sv. Nikole (Royal Visoko and St Nicholas’ Monastery), Sarajevo, 1906, 9-18.


Filipović, Milenko, Visoko, Jnl of the Geographical Society, Vol 11, Belgrade, 1925, 76-94


Filipović, Milenko,  Život i običaji narodni u Visočkoj nahiji (Life and folk customs in Visoko nahija) Serbian Ethnographic Collection, Serbian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 27, Belgrade, 1949


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Stari bosanski gradovi (Old Bosnian forts) Naše starine I, Sarajevo 1953, 7-46.


Mazalić, Đoko, Visoki, bosanski grad srednjega vijeka.(Visoki, mediaeval Bosnian fort), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, new series, Vol. IX, Sarajevo, 1954, 240-253


Truhelka, Ćiro, Tursko-slovijenski spomenici dubrovačke arhive. (Turko-Slav references in the Dubrovnik archives), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo XXIII, Sarajevo, 1911, 1-162


Mazalić, Đoko, Biograd-Prusac, stari bosanski grad.(Biograd-Prusac, old Bosnian fort), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, new series, Vol. VI, Sarajevo, 1951, 147-189


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 Yugoslav Peoples under Turkish Rule II/1951, Sarajevo, 1952, 119-184


Kreševljaković, Hamdija Stari bosanski  gradovi, (Old Bosnian forts) Naše starine I,, Sarajevo, 1953, 7-45


Vego, Marko, Naselja srednjevjekovne bosanske države. (Settlements of the mediaeval  Bosnian state) Sarajevo, 1957


Pašalić, Esad, Antička naselja i komunikacije u Bosni i Hercegovini (Ancient settlements and roads in BiH), special edition of the National Museum, Sarajevo, 1960


Vego, Marko, Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine (Collected mediaeval inscriptions of BiH), IV, National Museum, Sarajevo, 1970


Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka, Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne Bosanske države (Urban settlements of the mediaeval Bosnian state), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1978. 


Anđelić, Pavao, Srednji vijek-doba stare bosanske države (Mediaeval ages – period of the old Bosnian state), in: Visoko i okolina kroz historiju 1 (Visoko and environs through history 1), SO Visoko, Visoko, 1984, 102-297.


Šahinović, Nataša, Novi nalazi na srednjovjekovnom gradu Visoki (New finds in mediaeval fort Visoki), Jnl of the National Museum of BiH in Sarajevo, new series (Archaeology), vol. 48/49, Sarajevo, 2001, 386-393.

Mediaeval Fortress Visoki, reconstruction - maket Approach to the Fortress and view at the FortressPlan of mediaeval Fortress VisokiOld Fortress Visoki, part of the remains
Old Fortress Visoki, remains of the walls - detailOld Fortress Visoki, remains of the rampartParts of Gothic lunet, finding from 1993.Part of architectonic plastic with inscription
Archeological findings, ceramicsArcheological findings, swordArcheological findings, glass 

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