Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Catholic church of St Anne in the village of Gradac, the historic building

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V, paragraph 4, Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39, paragraph 1 of the Rules of Procedures of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at the session held from 4 to10 May 2004 the Commission to Preserve National Monuments adopted a






            The historic building of the Catholic church of St Anne in the village of Gradac near Neum is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument). 

The National Monument is located on a site marked as cadastral plot no. 1453 (new survey), corresponding to cadastral plot no. 1705/69 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 35, cadastral municipality Gradac I, Municipality Neum, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments instituted under Annex 8 of General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Official Gazette of the Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina” no. 2/02 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures 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 protection 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 as a National Monument. 




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

  • all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works and works 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 (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • during restoration, conservation and presentation works on the building, the original appearance of the building must be retained, using original materials, original treatment methods and original building methods,
  • the construction of any kind of building or facility on c.p. no. 1453 is prohibited,
  • the building shall be damp-proofed,
  • the parts of the building damaged by rising damp shall be made good,
  • on the plots adjacent to plot c.p. 1453, all construction and all extensions to existing buildings are prohibited; building works currently under way (the building by the southern edge of the plot) must be halted and the part of the building already erected must be removed,
  • the access path to the building shall be made good.



            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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize its protection.  




            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 Article V, paragraph 4, Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final. 




The Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović, Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.


No: 09-26-84/04-2

7 May 2004                    


Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović



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 Church of St. Anne in Neum Gradac, Neum to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 434.

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 of the property (land register entry, title deed and copy of cadastral plan)
  • The current condition of the property
  • 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


            St. Anne’s church is located in the village of Gradac, which is 20 km from Neum, on the old Neum –Hutovo –Stolac road. It stands on cadastral plot 1453, land register entry no. 35, in the sole ownership of the Roman Catholic parish in Gradac; cadastral municipality Gradac I, Municipality Neum, cadastral district Čapljina, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

            The access to the churchyard of St. Anne’s church is from the west, from the access road which branches off from the main Neum –Hutovo –Stolac road.   

            The main axis of the church lies west-east with a small deviation towards the north. The entrance to the Church is at the west end.

            A tombstone of recent date stands on the plot, near the church.   

Historical information

            The type of single-nave church first appeared quite early in coastal architecture, as long ago as the pre-Romanesque period, and its development can be traced throughout the mediaeval period.

            Initially, single-nave churches were buildings with a rectangular ground plan, with a projecting or inset apse, semicircular or rectangular in plan.  Over time, the treatment of the ceiling underwent changes.

            The only Gothic element to be adopted as the Gothic style reached the region was the vault, initially in the form of a shallow, irregular pointed arch. The reasons for the use of Gothic elements being reduced simply to the introduction of the vault are to be found in the unusually strong traditionalism that retained architectural typological formulae for a very long time once they had been adopted.  The reasons for this strong traditionalism, though, should be sought in the actual use of these buildings. 

“Those who used small churches were rural congregations who had only limited funds at their disposal, and it is a feature [of these churches] that they are static and organically associated with the land.  The congregation was shaped by local events, and was thus focused on tradition.  The members of the congregation actualized their religious needs in suitable premises, in the shape of simple churches, small in size and equipped with the most basic of requirements for religious worship, of markedly traditional nature and often with no distinct stylistic features.  In rural communities, churches in residential areas are stylistically more distinct, while other churches, more commonly built, repeat the traditional formulae, preserve them and pass them on [to future generations]. . . The use, or continuity, of a certain typological formulae does not mean retardation, but solely that it satisfied the simplest of functional requirements.” (D. Demonja: Tradicionani elementi u kasnosrednjovjekovnoj sakralnoj arhitekturi).

            Since the newly-introduced vaulted structure allowed for only a limited span, such churches were reduced in width and increased in height.   The powerful lateral stresses that now came into play as a result of the use of the vault made it essential to reinforce the side walls.  Given the modest size of the interior, the builders usually opted not to make the load-bearing walls stronger by building new, solid walls, but rather to introduce pilasters that had not only the structural function of load-bearing elements but also a decorative function.  Their use dynamized the interior, with their arrangement and the spacing between them creating niches that enriched and enlivened the longitudinal walls and giving the space a greater impression of width.  It was thus that the type of single-nave church with rebated arches took shape in the coastal regions.

            The type of single-nave church with the roof structure in the shape of a vault, in all its variations, appeared in the coastal regions in the early 13th and late 14th century [sic] (D. Demonja).  It was through builders from Dubrovnik, who had long since been engaged on buildings of a religious and secular nature in BiH, that the architectural forms of the single-nave church entered the architecture of old Herzegovina in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

            In old Herzegovina at this time, single-nave churches of both Orthodox and Catholic provenance were built, for which purpose builders from Dubrovnik were hired.  The churches are fairly similar in size, but differences between them appear in the way the lateral stresses are transferred.  Single-nave churches of Orthodox provenance were built as single-nave churches with rebated arches, while in the case of single-nave churches of Catholic provenance, the transference of lateral stresses was achieved by thicker side walls.

            Given the lapse of time between the appearance of this type of church in the coastal region and its appearance in the regions of our old Herzegovina, differences in the form and elements of the single-nave church that were applied also emerged.  As a result of the Renaissance, and the adoption by Dubrovnik builders of modern techniques, there are no Gothic elements, or only exceptionally do they appear, in the architectural forms of the single-nave churches built in Herzegovina.

            There is only the scantest of historical information on St Anne’s church.

The church was built somewhat prior to 1619, when it was consecrated.  Reference works also mention 1622 as the year of consecration.  The builder of the church is referredto as Fr. Blaž Gračanin (documentation from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments).

The church is dedicated to St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The worship of St. Anne began in the east in the earliest days of Christianity, but spread to the west only in the 16th century.

St. Anne’s feast day is on 26 July.

Inside the church is a stone plaque giving details of its restoration in 1984, on the occasion of the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the Trebinje bishopric.


2. Description of the property

            In terms of spatial layout, St. Anne’s church, which lies east-west (with a slight deviation to the north, dictated by the lie of the land), with its entrance at the west end, belongs to the type of single-nave churches of rectangular ground plan with no apse, and a belfry “na preslicu” (built in over the entrance).

            The church is a simple building of modest size.The exterior dimensions are approx. 4.2 x 6.3 m and the interior 2.7 x 4.7 m.  The height from ground level to the apex of thevault is approx. 3.65 m.

            The church has solid stone walls about 76 cm thick, whitewashed on the inside.  On the exterior façades the relatively symmetrically cut, roughly dressed stone blocks with mortar binder in wide joints, laid in fairly regular horizontal courses, are left exposed.  Since it is not plastered on the outside, it can be seen that larger, more regular stone blocks are used as quoins, while those on the walls themselves are mainly smaller and unequal in size.

            Structurally, the load of the irregular, shallow pointed-arched vault is transferred to the solid longitudinal walls, which is rare among single-nave churches built at that time.  The simple rectangular ground plan of the church, with no apse, the masonry of regular stone blocks, and the irregular shallow pointed-arched vault are typical of the Gothic period.

The rectangular portal is at the west end of the church, with a simple wooden door framed by massive door jambs and lintel. In the light of their size (north door jamb 144 x 34 cm, lintel 125 x 50 cm, south door jamb 151 x 36 cm, all three about 70 cm wide), the presence of stećak tombstones in the village, and the decorations that can be seen of a sword and rosette on the north door jamb, it is possible that stećak tombstones found in the locality were used for the door jambs and lintel.  A rectangle with a cross is incised on the lintel.  The date of consecration of the church – 1619 – is incised around the rectangle. To the left and right of the lintel, level with the top, are small decorated stones, one on each side (measuring approx. 20 x 18 cm).  The symbol of the apple or pommel features as a decorative motif.

Above the portal is a shallow relieving niche terminating in a regular arch.  The straight section of the relieving niche is framed by two large stone blocks, measuring approx. 55 x 27 cm, on which smaller stones are laid to form the arch. The straight section of the relieving niche is 85 cm in height, while the height to the apex of the church is 126 cm.

Above the entrance front, centrally over its axis, is a belfry “na preslicu” with a single aperture and no bell inside. The “preslica” is composed of two stone pillars, with the transition into an arch unaccentuated.  The arched section of the belfry is moulded in bas relief and has a carved cross at the very top.  The arch of the belfry is a pointed arch.

The belfry was probably built later, and it is not known whether it originally had a bell.

To the north and south of the portal are regular round-arched niches with a stone sill 16 cm in height level with the base of the niche.

The north wall of the church has one window framed by stone blocks.  The square window has cut and dressed stone transennas forming a cross.

The east end wall is level and has no windows.

The south wall has three windows, all three framed by stonen blocks.  The rectangular opening at the easternmost end of the wall is unusually narrow (with the width on the outside only 9 cm), with a splay-moulded niche.  There is a square window next to this narrow aperture, and another in the western part of the wall; both have cut and dressed stone transennas forming a cross.

The interior of the church is extremely modestly fitted out.

The stone floor is composed of unequally-sized stone slabs set in mortar.

The walls are whitewashed, and have no traces of paintings.

In the axisof the east wall is a shallow rectangular niche with, in front of it, the white-painted stone mensa of the altar, set on a low stone plinth.  To the left and right of this niche are small square niches.  There is also a small square niche in the south wall.

The church is roofed entirely with stone slabs with the typical overlap on the ridge.


3. Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the Institute for Protection of the Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 02-UP-I-87-2/70 of 20 November 1970 the building was place under state protection.   

            St. Anne’s Church in Neum Gradac is registered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments under serial number 434. 


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

There is no technical documentation on the restoration of the, since throughout its history the inhabitants of the village have taken care of and renovated the church.   The only information on its renovation is a stone plaque inside the church referring to restoration in 1984, on the occasion of the celebration of the thousandth’s anniversary of the Trebinje bishopric.

During this renovation, or possibly at an earlier date, the joints of the stone blocks on the façade, the pavement around the building and the floor were reinforced with cement mortar.  The church was whitewashed inside, and according to the present-day priest of the church, hydroinsulation was installed around the building.


5. Current condition of the property

St. Anne’s church is well preserved and in relatively good condition. The damage to the building has been caused by subterranean water, as is visible on the north wall and inside the church.    




Applying the Criteria for proclamation of the property as a national monument (“Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, no. 32/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

The Decision was based on the following criteria: 

A. Time frame

B. Historic value

(the connection of the building with a important event in the history) 

C. Artistic and aesthetic value

C.i. proportions,

C.ii. composition,

D. Clarity (documentary, scientific, educational value)

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

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

F. Townscape/landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.iii. use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

H. Rarity and representativity

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

I. Completeness (ensembles, areas, collections)

I.iv. undamaged condition


            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 St Anne's church in Neum Gradac as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Korać Vojislav, Đurić Vojislav, Crkve s prislonjenim lukovima u staroj Hercegovini i dubrovačko graditeljstvo, period XV-XVII vek, (Churches with regated arches in the old architecture of Herzegovina and Dubrovnik, 15th-17th century)


Demonja D., Tradicionalni elementi u kasnosrednjovjekovnoj sakralnoj arhitekturi – nekoliko istarskih primjeri (Traditional elements in late mediaeval religious architecture – some Istrian examples), a publication of the Institute for Art History in Zagreb, 21/1997. (29–37), published on the Internet, www. hart.hr


Documentation from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.







BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: