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Kastel fortress, 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 4 to 10 May 2004 the Commission adopted a






The historic site of the Kastel fortress in Banja Luka is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot  no. 4337 and 4338 (new survey), corresponding to c.p.1/1 (old survey), Land Registry entry no. 2640,  right to title no. 3524/2, and c.p. 4336 (new survey), cadastral municipality Banja Luka VII, Municipality Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The National Monument consists of the fortress, the archaeological finds held in the Museum of Republika Srpska, and the archaeological artefacts remaining in the ground on the areas not investigated/excavated archaeologically, together with the left bank of the Vrbas below Kastel, on c.p. no. 4336 from the confluence of the Crkvena to the Patra bridge.

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, and display 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 protection zones are hereby designated:

            Protection Zone I consists of the area stipulated in Art. 1 para. 2 of this Decision.

            In this zone the following protection measures are hereby stipulated:

  • all works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than archaeological, conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the Ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes.
  • A programme for the active protection of the complex of the National Monument may be carried out, with the proviso that the following measures apply:
    • the concept of the architectural programme for the revitalization of the National Monument may be carried out in such a way as not to endanger the National Monument, the stone structure of the walls, all the recognizable historical strata of the complex and all archaeological finds
    • the expert supervision of an archaeologist shall be mandatory when carrying out infrastructural works
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.

            Protection Zone II consists of the area around the Kastel fortress; to the east up to the right bank of the Crkvena, to the north and west up to  Kolokotronisa street as far as the stone Patra bridge over the Vrbas.  This corresponds to the area around the fortress that is surrounded by a moat.

In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • all works of any kind that could have the effect of altering the site or the surrounding townscape are prohibited;
  • all works on the infrastructure are prohibited unless in exceptional cases, with a project approved by the Ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority.  The said project must include the implementation of archaeological works and conservation
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.



The removal of the archaeological artefacts specified in Art. 1 of this Decision (hereinafter: the archaeological artefacts) 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 archaeological artefacts 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 temporary removal 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 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.




On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 2.




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

                                                                                    Dubravko Lovrenović

No: 05.2-35-39/04

4 May 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 on 1-2 July 1999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka, municipality Banja Luka, to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 2.

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.
  • The current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs,
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property,
  • A draft programme for the repair, conservation, restoration and revitalization of the Kastel fortress in Banja Luka, drawn up by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Republika Srpska in 1998.

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 town of Banja Luka lies on the boundary of two natural features, in a valley surrounded on three sides by hills, through which the river Vrbas flows. The town owes its origins and development primarily to its excellent location as regards communications.  Banja Luka stands on the southernmost part of the Pannonian plain.  South of the town is its hilly hinterland, and the once impassable Vrbas gorge. In the past the only way the road could run was along the plateau above the gorge, as can be seen from the position of the fortified towns between Banja Luka and Jajce.

The historic site of the Kastel Fortress stands on a slight elevation alongside the left bank of the Vrbas, in the region of an alluvial plain. The river Crkvina runs to the right of the Kastel, joining the Vrbas beside the fortress.  The hillock on which the Kastel stands falls away steeply towards the Vrbas, but slopes gently down towards the Crkvina river. The main road runs along a gentle slope to join the town's main street.   Over the centuries, major works and alterations to the fortress have altered the original lie of the land.  An elevation of this nature was a significant strategic point and has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

Archaeological finds in the Banja Luka area are concentrated in two sites: in Gornji Šeher, about 3.5-4 km south of the town centre, and in the town centre itself, where the second half of the 16th century was marked by considerable building activity of the urban centre and the Kastel fortress.

Historical information

There has been so much uninterrupted building on the site of the confluence of the Crkvina and the Vrbas since the 16th century that little remains from earlier times.  Archaeological investigations have been carried out in so far as the limitations of the terrain permit, mainly in the course of conservation and infrastructural works on and around the fortress, particularly from the 1970s to the 1990s. There is little documentary evidence dating from antiquity and particularly from the mediaeval period.

Prehistoric era

            Prehistoric finds are extremely fragmentary.  Flint tools have been found around bastion IV and the north-western gatehouse, probably belonging to the Palaeolithic and dated to the Gravettian period, the most recent era of the Upper Palaeolithic in northern Bosnia, from the 19th to the first quarter of the 13th millennium BCE (Graljuk, 1888, 130, no. 56; Basler, 1988, 84).  Neolithic pottery has been discovered in courtyard I (Graljuk, 1888, 130, no. 56).  In courtyard III (test dig H) part of a late Neolithic settlement consisting of a single stratum has been discovered, covering an area of about 50 sq.m and standing on the elevated section of the river terrace.  Parts of the foundations and probably of the above-ground walls of a dwelling over a length of 4 m. were discovered in a stratum about 0.6 m thick (Z. Žeravica, 1983, 42).  Movable finds in this stratum consisted of numerous pottery shards attributed to the Baden cultural group, and a few pottery shards of the Vučedol cultural group. As well as pottery, flint cutting tools and animal bones were also discovered (Z. Žeravica, 1983, 41-53).  Flint tools probably belonging to this settlement have been found in the area between the well and the building now housing the Institute for the Protection of Culture and Nature of RS (Graljuk, 1983, 33).  Prehistoric pottery attributed to the Eneolithic and Bronze ages has been found in courtyard II at the junction of the ramparts and the wall of the south casemate  and alongside the western side of the oil pit (Graljuk, 1983, 33).  Outside Kastel (in the area designated as courtyard I) a dump was discovered containing 23 pottery weights (Graljuk, 1983,33).  Archaeological artefacts from the late Bronze and Iron ages have also been identified in Kastel (Graljuk, 1888, 130, no. 56).


Finds from the antique period are rather few, but sufficient to confirm that there was a settlement here which developed from the 2nd to the 6th century.  However, on the basis of hodological investigations, ancient geographical maps (Tabula Peutingeriana i Itinerarium Antonini) and casual finds, it has been ascertained that there was a settlement here in antique times known as Castra, where there was a way-station (mansio), a military camp (castrum), a civilian settlement alongside the camp (canabae), and beneficiary posts (statio) (Bojanovski, 1988, 360, 375).  It belonged to the province of Upper Pannonia, and was inhabited by the Oseriati tribe.  The Castra settlement was on the road that ran from Salona (Solin) on the eastern shore of the Adriatic sea and the political centre of the Roman province of Dalmatia to Seritiusa (Bosanske Gradiške) port on the Sava in the province of Pannonia. The road through Banja Luka followed the route of the present-day road from Gornji Šeher to Kastel. Skarić was of the view that there was a major antique setlement with a camp on the site of Kastel fortress.  Excavations carried out in 1971-74 in test digs in courtyard III revealed a stratum dating from the antique period. In digs E, E1, E2, E5 and E7 the remains of stone floors were discovered in stratum III.  The stratum contained much evidence of fires, leading to the assumption that the above-ground parts of these dwellings or workshops were timber-built.  Although the stratum was enclosed, it was not possible to determine the size of the bases. The original soil lay beneath them.  The pottery dating from the antique period in Kastel was of the type associated with settlements. As well as the remains of vessels, pottery weights, Roman bricks and tiles (walling, roof and tubulus), the remains of glass vessels, stone and pottery spinning-wheel whorls and an undated Roman bronze coin were discovered.  The majority of the pottery was of local manufacture: there are very few shards of imported pottery. The material as a whole can be attributed to a wide range of dates from the 2nd to the 6th century, with late antique (4th to 6th century) pottery more common.  One shard of the mid-section of a vessel with stamped ornamentation of rhomboidal form is of Gepidian origin (6th century).  This would also be the upper chronological limit of the entire stratum in courtyard III.  Many iron fragments were also discovered in this stratum, suggesting that there were forges here.  This stratum and the remains of the flooring it contained were dated by I. Čremošnik to the early mediaeval period (Čremošnik, 1972, 133-134).

In the part of Kastel close to tower 1 a cruciform fibula dating from the 4th century was found, as were some large dressed stone blocks of regular shape laid as a cyclopean wall.  The remains of the foundations of buildings on the original ground level were found at the base of bastion 9, very close to towers 1 and 2.  Topographically, this was the most dominant area, ideally suited to the erection of Roman buildings.  A number of antique coins were found outside the archaeological context. With the removal of the soil from the casemate, an Antoninian coin of Salonina, the wife of Emperor Gallienus, from the Siscia mint, dating from between 253 and 268 was found.  When bastion 3 was excavated a small Roman bronze coin of Constantius (337-350) was found, from the Siscia mint.  A small bronze coin of Constantius II (337-361) was found by bastion 6, again from the Siscia mint.  Finds that were known previous to this were a sestertius of Faustina, wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-151), from the Rome mint (Z.and L. Žeravica, 1984, 33-39).  Later some more bronze coins and applications were found in the soil scattered over the roof of the arsenal (T2), one of which belonged to Marcus Aurelius (161-180) (Graljuk, 1983,36).  

Excavations undertaken from 1980 to 1988 uncovered walls of which the size and workmanship of the stone blocks suggested a better fortified late antique fort: on the bank of the Vrbas by a large cistern, beneath bastion 3 where the Crkvena flows into the Vrbas.  In courtyard II parts of the foundations walls of a somewhat larger late antique building with a semicircular apse were uncovered; the purpose of this building has not been determined with certainty (a basilica, an administrative building, or a complex used for various purposes) (Graljuk, 1988).  Numerous walls of the fortress, in particular the front wall of tower 1, were built using the exterior walls of the  Roman fort (Ševo, 1996, 21, note. 22). 

In Govedarnica, close to the fortress, a fragment of an inscription D(is) M(anibus) on a tombstone, coins and bricks were found in the foundations of a building dating from the antique period (Skarić, 1924).  Later, aerial photography revealed the remains of a Roman building in that area (Bojanovski, 1974, 95).  When the bridge over the Crkvina was repaired, an altar dedicated to Jupiter and the «genius loci» or protector of the site was found close to Govedarnica, erected by a consular beneficiary on active service (a lower-ranking officer in the governor's HQ), of the province of Pannonia Superior L. Sicinius Martinus in the 2nd century CE (Patsch, 1905,  574-577; Pašalić, 1960, 24, Bojanovski, 1988,302). The inscription is a reliable indication that this settlement was important to the Roman authorities. The assumption is that it could have been the centre of an indigenous county, later elevated to the rank of municipia (Bojanovski, 1974. 95; Bojanovski, 1988, 349).  The name of the settlement also suggests that there was a garrison there.  In the village of Čokori in the Suturlija valley near Banja Luka part of a tombstone was found with the clan (imperial) name Aelii, which suggests that Banja Luka was urbanized during the reign of P. Aelius Hadrianus (117-138), who «it seems, bestowed civic status quite freely» (Bojanovski, 1988, 302, 342).

            Antique-era coins and the remains of buildings were found around Ferhadija (Bojanovski, 1974, 95, and other references).  Investigations conducted in 1985 and 1986 of the Hanište site where Ferhad pasha's han (erected 1579-87, demolished in 1640) was located, uncovered the remains of foundation walls made of the soft local mudstone known as lauša in an antique-era stratum, together with quantities of pottery and glass shards, iron and bone items, pieces of slag, bricks, and coins. All this was dated to the 3rd and 4th century (Graljuk, 1988).  It appears that Ferhad pasha's agglomeration, where 216 buildings were erected between 1576 and 1587, was on the site of an antique-era settlement (Bojanovski,1988, 301).

Mediaeval period

            I. Čremošnik, as noted above, identified stratum III in dig E in courtyard III as belonging to the early mediaeval period, from the 8th to the 12th century.  She identified two residential strata: an earlier one with dugout dwellings and a later one with above-ground dwellings.  In both strata the walls of the dwellings were timber-faced and lime-washed.  The settlement was surrounded by dry-wall ramparts of random-laid stone, of which one section was 5-6 m in width.  The description of both researchers agree as to the condition of the finds, but not as to the materials, which remains open to question (cf. L. and Z. Žeravica, 1984, 33-39 and I. Čremošnik, 1973, 193-195 ). 

The documentation on Kastel that has been studied thus far lead one to expect the remains of mediaeval walls.  In the mid 17th century there is reference to two forts in Banja Luka, one in Gornji Šeher and the other in  Donji Šeher (Kastel) (Bejtić, 1953, 92, Kreševljaković, 1953, 26, Šabanović, 1979, 212-213).  It is a known fact that the antique-era toponym Kastel was frequently used for later mediaeval fortifications (Anđelić, 1957, 233).   However, apart from the remains of a quarry-stone floor overlaid with lime mix, or floors of beaten earth, with quantities of pottery, nothing specific was found during the 1971-74 excavations in archaeological stratum II in dig E in courtyard III or in excavations during the clearing of the bastion.  The pottery was dated to the 12th to 15th century, with the majority of the more recent pottery of the 14th to 15th century found in courtyard III and the older pottery, of the 11th to 13th century, was found in quantity in the bastions and ramparts as well as older 11th to 13th century pottery (L. i Z. Žeravica, 1984, 26-33).  

In the course of later research, B. Graljuk, who conducted the works, ascertained that the majority of the substructures thus far discovered between towers 1 and 2 “are of pre-Turkish provenance”, i.e. from the 14th to 15th century.  The walling substructures are concentrated around the access areas of the fortress (by the hero’s bust) and the north-eastern access to the fortress from the market (Graljuk, 1983, 37, 38).  However, there is still insufficient data to confirm the existence of a mediaeval fortress, but merely indicative evidence (Graljuk, 1988 a).

            The earliest documentary reference to the name Banja Luka is in a document of 1494 of the Hungarian King Ladislav II Jagelović.  At that time Banja Luka formed part of the Jajce banate.  In this document the king calls for assistance to be provided to the fortress in Banja Luka.  It notes that there was one castellan in the fort, Juraj Mikulašić, which suggests that the fortress was smaller than those in Zvečaj and Bočac, each of which had two castellans.  One budget refers to the expenditure for 44 infantrymen in the  Banja Luka fortress and 117 in Jajce.  There are several other documentary references to Banja Luka in the period to 1528, relating to problems in maintaining supplies and to Ottoman incursions into the Jajce banate (Thalloczy, 1916).  Despite material and documentary evidence of the existence of a mediaeval settlement or fortress, the location of the Banja Luka fortress is not known, but early Ottoman documents suggest that it was probably in Gornje Šeher (Bejtić, 1953, 93-97).  In Donji Šeher the mediaeval toponyms of the river Crkvena and the Lauš quarter still survive.

The Ottoman period

In early 1528 the entire area of the Jajce banate, from Jajce itself to the Sava river, came under Ottoman rule.  It was not long before, in 1554, the headquarters of the Bosnian sandžak-beg was moved to Banja Luka, which remained a major military and administrative centre until 1639.  The road via Mrkonjić Grad was linked with the then western limits of Ottoman rule.  The road led eastwards via Vrbanja, Kotor-Varoš and Doboj.  Banja Luka, from the hilly west, south and east, was the first major stronghold, sufficiently close to the border to launch the army on a new major offensive to the north and north-west, while in the hinterland, protected by the Sava for maintaining and reinforcing the offensive, and later defence troops.  By the mid 16th century the Ottomans were in control of the entire Balkan peninsula and much of the Pannonian plain (Vojvodina, central Slavonia as far as Osijek), and in 1541 they conquered Budim.  To the west, with the conquest of Klis in 1537, they gained control of the entire area of Croatia south of Velebit.

In these circumstances, from the summer of 1554 on the sandžakbegs of the Bosnian sandžak more often than not resided in Banja Luka, which became their official seat between 1554 and 1563, in line with the circumstances of the time and the Ottomans' own plans to conquer more land (Šabanović, 1982, 72).  Their intentions to extend their rule by reinforcing their authority over the large conquered area between two powerful enemy forces, Austria and Venice, combined with weakened central rule, compelled the authorities to carry out reforms to the administrative divisions of the Empire.  In 1580, as a result, the large administrative unit of the Bosnian pašaluk (beglerbegluk, ajalet) was formed (Šabanović, 1982, 78). The capital of the pašaluk was in Banja Luka, which was midway along the north-south line of the Balkan region of the Ottoman Empire.

The first sandžak beg was Sofi Mehmed-paša, who began building in Gornji Šeher in 1554-1557. Ferhad-paša Sokolović, the last Bosnian sandžakbeg (1574-1580) whose residence was in Banja Luka, was appointed that year as the first beglerbeg.  From 1579 to 1587 he undertook major building works in Donji Šeher, then the centre of the town, having 216 buildings erected and endowed as his vakuf.  Among them, very close to the Ferhadija mosque alongside the Vrbas, an arsenal was built prior to 1587.   The arsenal is assumed to have stood outside the «western ramparts of the fortress, by the road to the wooden bridge, which was also built by Ferhad-paša, which would indicate that the arsenal was perhaps located somewhere around the Topnička barracks (Ševo, 1996, 44). In 1570 to 73 the Ottomans took cannons to Klis, and in 1580 to Bihać.  In 1583 30 cannon were cast (Hrabak, 1980, 99).  The arsenal was turned into a fortress during the reign of Sultan Mehmed III (1595-1603), and to distinguish it from the old fort in Gornji Šeher it was named New Town.  As was customary, a mosque was also built in the fortress, and dedicated to the sultan.  It remained in use until 1739, but it is not known where it stood or when it was demolished.  Similarly, the appearance of the fortress built in the late 16th and early 17th century is unknown.

Ottoman power began to wane as early as the late 16th century.  Western states had begun to launch attacks, and Banja Luka became closer and closer to the state border.  The supreme authorities moved out of  Banja Luka in 1639.  There are few 17th century documentary references to the fortress and its appearance or how it was equipped.  Travel writers who passed through Banja Luka in the 17th century (A. Đorđić-1626, Hadži-Kalfa-1650, Bishop Maravić-1655 and Evliya Çelebi –1660) refer to two fortresses, one in Gornji Šeher and the other in Donji Šeher, but provide no description of them.  The fortress was repaired in 1639 (Kreševljaković, 1953, 26).  The Banja Luka captaincy was founded after 1660.  It is known at the fort was independent even before the formation of the captaincy, since it had a dizdar or military commander and three branches of the military: the mustahfize whose service was associated with the fortress and entrenchment, the džebedžije who  were in charge of the weaponry and ammunition, and the cannoneers (Kreševljaković, 1952, 123-125, 127; 1991, 144-147).  In the late 17th century, after a long period in which there was a balance of power between the two great empires, the Habsburg and the Ottoman, war broke out again between them (1683-1699).  During this war, Austrian troops under the command of Prince Ludwig of Baden briefly occupied Banja Luka in August 1688.  After this there are no further references to the fortress in Gornji Šeher.  The war was brought to an end by the Treaty of Karlowitz in early 1699.  Under the terms of the treaty, the Ottoman Empire ceded to  Austria the western part of Srijem up to the line from Tis-confluence of Bosut,  Slavonia, Lika and Banija. Venice retained the part of  Dalmatia as far as the Dinarics around Knin and Vrgorac.  Austria was unable for a time to launch attacks south of the Sava and Danube, but there were constant minor skirmishes along the border.  In the 18th century Banja Luka thus became the first major town to be attacked by the opposing forces, being close to the borders of the two empires, a mere eight hours' march on level terrain.  The Ottoman authorities thus hurriedly took action to fortify the towns.

In 1701 the Porte entrusted to the kadi of Banja Luka the task of setting up workshops for making cannon and ammunition, no doubt to modernize and continue the work of the arsenal (Ševo, 1996,54).  During renovations in Numan-paša Ćuprilić’s time (1712-1714) the fortress acquired its final dimensions.  It was extended in line with Vauban’s system.  According to an anonymous military spy, from 1718 to 1739 the fortress had strong ramparts and three entrenchments to the west (Bodenstein, 1908, 95-112).  The military plans drawn up by military spies provide a similar picture.   Hostilities broke out again in 1714, but were ended by the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718.  In this region, the Austrians acquire Bijeljina and Brčko, and the western border followed the Sava over the confluence of the Una and Sava to Novi.  Fighting continued until 1739.  In 1737 Austrian troops penetrated as far as Banja Luka and attempted to occupy the fortress, but without success (Zelenika, 1955, 347).  This war was ended in 1739 by the Treaty of Belgrade, following which the Austrians did not cross the Sava until 1878. Following this battle the fortress was once again renovated in 1737-1738.  According to an anonymous description dating from about 1785, there were 50 cannon in the fortress (Kreševljaković, 1953, 26).  Bosnia's fortresses were fortified and prepared for continued resistance to the Austrians.  In the early 19th century, 1809 to be exact, major repairs were carried out to the Jajce fortress and to Kastel.  However, circumstances changed, and the importance of Banja Luka's fortress diminished.  According to an 1833 census, the fortress had 33 cannon of various calibre (Kreševljaković, 1952, 151).  In the mid 19th century the fortress was somewhat damaged. Travel writers note that there were numerous military buildings within it – stores, a prison, and a powder magazine.  The last repairs to the fortress were carried out in 1868, when a building was erected that was later known as the Cannon Barracks, outside the walls of Kastel.  Photographs of Kastel from the early years of  Austro-Hungarian rule show an entrenchment, the Kapetan's residence within the southern ramparts, and a watch-tower at the confluence of the Crkvena and the Vrbas, near bastion 3.  Once Austro-Hungary had occupied the country, the fortress in Banja Luka ceased to be of much interest.  Banja Luka had a military district with one battalion of the XV district corps. The existing buildings in the fortress, which was in a fairly ruinous state, were occupied.  In the late 19th century a timber-built bathing area was erected for officers alongside the Vrbas, the so-called Schwimmschule.

After World War II, the Kastel fortress continued to be used for military purposes until 1959.  From the 1960s on, Kastel was used for various purposes: an open-air theatre was erected there, as was a museum of the National Liberation Army, and a number of other buildings which were later demolished.


2. Description of the property

The site occupies an area of 26610 sq.m. within the fortress walls and about 21390 sq.m. outside the ramparts.  The Kastel is a plains-type artillery fortress of polygonal ground plan in the form of an elongated trapezoid. During the 17th century the artillery was perfected so that the fortress could be fully adapted to the terrain.  Its ramparts barely stood out from ground level. The defending forces were dug into  strongly built low polygonal bastions erected on the angles of the line of the ramparts. It was possible to defend the long fronts from the polygonal bastions with lateral fire using fewer firearms. There are seven bastions projecting from the curtain walls of the fortress (T 3-9).  The walls of the bastions are about 2.5 m thick. The interior width of the bastions averages about 10 m, and their height is about 6-7 m.  Apart from bastion 9, which is the most exposed and is hexagonal in plan, the others are pentagonal and adhere closely to the ramparts, with three each on the west and north sides and one at the south-east angle.

Three arsenals abut onto the inner side of the ramparts, two by the south rampart and the third forming part of the central camp by the north rampart.  This reinforced the defences of the south and north ramparts.  The ramparts of the fortress are thick so as to resist the destructive force of artillery.  At various reinforced places they are as much as 6.5 m thick, and constructed in three sections – two curtain walls with stone and soil packed between.  Tie beams are built into along the ramparts.  The outer curtain wall is 2.5 m. thick and is topped by breastworks 1.9 m high, with the walkway along the wall about 1 m. thick. The inner curtain wall is 0.8 m thick.  The mass of stone and earth between the curtain walls is up to 3 m. thick.   The fortress is constructed of rectangular cut stone blocks, laid in various ways and bonded with mortar.  The arris of the outer angles of the ramparts, towers and breastworks are for the most part made of well-cut blocks.  It appears that there were originally breastworks along the entire line of the ramparts and bastions, but there remain only a few, probably those that survived and were restored during restoration and conservation works.

There are another three inset towers beside the ramparts, square in section, of which towers 2 and 5 are in fact the gatehouses and the exit to the Vrbas.  Tower 4 is on the corner between bastions 7 and 6 and the angle of the wall.  Only the main gatehouse (K 1) projects outwards.  Against the ramparts running along the banks of the Vrbas is another, southern, smaller arsenal (opposite the casemate) (T 2) and a smaller arsenal by gatehouse T 1, with the third arsenal against the ramparts by bastion 6. There are thus two arsenals against the south ramparts, together with the bastions at both ends of that wall, with their firepower aimed at the right bank of the  Vrbas where enemy troops could be concentrated.  Outside the gatehouse the substructure of a polygonal tower with walls has been excavated (K 7).  This probably served as the first entrance to the fortress.  Another integral part of the defensive system of the fortress was an entrenchment 20-30 m wide, completely surrounding Kastel except for the Vrbas side, so that it was as if the fortress was on an island.  The entrenchment is now filled in, and is roughly where Kolokotronisa street runs.  Around the north and east ramparts are massive earthworks, and outside the south rampart is yet another rampart.  There are secret underground passages in the earthworks against the ramparts, by the east and north walls and towards the Vrbas.  There are no earthworks against the west ramparts.  Outside the entire length of the south wall, along the banks of the Vrbas, is a large protective rampart erected here because of the geological nature of the soil.

Kastel is entered through the gatehouse (K 1) in the west rampart and a wide arched gateway in the north wall (the brick arch was probably added at the same time as the windows in the cannon barracks).   The gatehouse is between bastions 9 and 8, which are very well covered by artillery and gunfire.  The second gatehouse tower (K 2), where the main exit to the bank of the Vrbas was, is rapidly reached from the gatehouse.  Firepower from bastion 9 covered both entrances and the bridge over the Vrbas, and a barrage of fire covered the south and west ramparts.  This is why the bastion projects out from the ramparts.  The interior of the fortress is a large casemate and arsenal against the south rampart (T 2), divided into two sections, the smaller western part with the central camp, and a larger one where there were formerly buildings used for various purposes. The central camp covers an area of 1285 sq.m., and is situated in the north-western part of courtyard II.  It is separated from the rest of the area by walls on the west, south and east sides, while to the north it abuts onto the ramparts of the fortress.  The east wall was demolished at some point in the past.  The camp was entered through a square tower in the south wall.  Within the camp was an arsenal and yet another square tower in the north-west angle which served to protect this corner of the ramparts of the fortress.

The main casemate is about 80 m long and 15 m wide. Alongside the south wall it continues as a smaller casemate or arsenal built in the same way.  The passageway from courtyard II to courtyard III is between them.  Both casemates are partly dug in and have thick walls.  They are of the protective type of casemate where troops and stores were housed.  The interior of the casemate is divided longitudinally by massive pillars and walls into two sections. There are four single doors and six small arched windows set high up in the east wall.  On the west side there is just one wider door.  The smaller casemate also has a single door and two small, rectangular windows high up in the east wall. The front of the casemate has large, wide arched apertures in the passageway between the two.  During works to repair Kastel the way the fortress was kept supplied with water was discovered.  Two well-disguised wells were dug into the sandy bank of the Vrbas.  Here the water from the river was first filtered through layers of sand.  Specially built arched and disguised steps (K 5) led from the fortress to the “large cistern” or well, and the “small cistern” was reached through the gateway in the ramparts between bastion 9 and the secondary tower (K 2).

In courtyard III is a solidly stone-built building probably dating from the Austro-Hungarian period, and now housing the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Republika Srpska.

The only military building of any size, later known as the Barracks for artillerymen or the artillery Barracks, was built in 1865.  It was erected on a tufa retaining wall to the south-west of bastion 9, by the bridge.  The retaining wall contains the remains of reinforcing timber beams, leading to the hypothesis that cannon once stood here (1988, 4).  The building is rectangular in form with a projection to the west, and consists of a ground floor and an upper floor.  It is stone built, with horizontal beams between the floors, with the ends of the beams supporting the upper floor still visible. The entrance to the building, with a stone arch-vaulted porch with a balcony, is in the centre of the north façade.  Above it is an equallly wide door to the balcony from the room in the centre of the building.  It is entirely symmetrical, with four windows on each floor.  The south façade has ten windows on each floor.  During the Austrian period, brick arches and window frames were added to the the original rectangular windows.  The gabled roof is tile-clad.  Typologically, it is classified as a military building of the late 19th century.


3. Legal status to date

In the procedure prior to the adoption of a final decision to designate the property, documents relating to the protection of the building were inspected, and on the basis of the law and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH, Sarajevo, no. 726/50 of 16 June 1950, the site of the Kastel Fortress was placed under state protection.

            In a review of the ruling, by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BiH, Sarajevo, no 02-696-3 of 18 April 1962, the site of the Kastel fortress was placed under state protection.

The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovine, Sarajevo, issued an amended Ruling, no 02-40-102/70 of 2 July 1970, concerning the separate legal protection of the buildings erected within the Kastel ramparts:

  • Building I of the Museum of the Bosnian krajina (directorate)
  • Building II of the Museum of the Bosnian krajina (collections)
  • Building of the Museum of the Revolution

severely damaged by the 1969 earthquake. The buildings were left  in ruins, and the fallen stone material that had been used to build them was used to restore the fortress buildings.

The Regional Plan for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 classified the monument as Category II.

In the Register of cultural properties of Republika Srpska, Kastel has the status of an immovable cultural property of outstanding importance.  It was entered in the Register of Monuments of Republika Srpska enjoying prior protection under serial no. R-725.


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works

Conservation and restoration works

1963. When Kastel was vacated by the Jugoslav National Army, works began on repairs to the fortress.

1969-1975. The Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted works on Kastel, beginning with the north and west sections of the ramparts, the bastions and towers.

1976-1984. Works of repair and revitalization on the south rampart by tower 2, the south arsenal (T 2), a power substation was built into the west rampart, and the infrastructure network in part led through Kastel.  As part of these works, during 1980-1982 these were carried out in greater detail, with the installation of an infrastructure network (sewerage, mains water, PTT) (Graljuk 1983, notes 14 and 15), and the removal of soil from the double ramparts.  A number of unchecked and illicit passageways were closed off. 

1982-1984. The south arsenal (T 2) was made good, and the many layers of earthworks were removed from the barracks.

2002. CHWB replaced the roof structure on the gatehouse (K 1).


Archaeological investigations

1971-1974. Trial digs of the larger part of courtyard III (about 600 sq.m. excavated) and around bastions 9 and 3.  During the removal of earth from bastion 9 and clearing the ramparts, movable archaeological material was collected.  The works were carried out by experts from the National Museum in Sarajevo (I. Čremošnik) and the Museum of the Bosnian krajina of Banja Luka (L. and Z. Žeravica).

1980-1986. Successive excavations by experts from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Nature, Banja Luka (B. Graljuk) in various parts of Kastel.  A number of buildings dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were discovered: military structures, underground passages, rooms, secret passageways for crossing the Vrbas and Crkvena, the rampart along the Vrbas bank, parts of a bastion facinbg the Čaršija, parts of a small and a large moat, and the large cistern.  Antique parts were excavated in the section between tower 1 and tower 2, below bastion 3 to the confluence of the Crkvina and the Vrbas, and outside the large cistern.

1987. Excavations of the late antique basilica in courtyard II in Kastel, and test digs in Govedarnica.


         All the movable archaeological material is in the Museum of Republika Srpska or the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of RS in Banja Luka, apart from the altar found in 1895 which was taken to the National Museum in Sarajevo that same year.


5. Current condition of the property


            The south rampart had been made good from bastion 9 to the place where tower 5 and the officers' baths, but tthat section has cracked, particularly on the Vrbas side, and is slipping and at risk of collapsing.  From there  eastwards, to bastion 3, the ramparts have not been made good, and have cracked in places, fallen in the eastern section, and have some sections missing.  The ramparts are also endangered by vegetation.  On the terrace below the ramparts by the Vrbas bank, the passageway from the fortress to the bank is almost completely overgrown with vegetation. The stone vaulted passage to the large cistern and the officers' baths is completely unusable, and has not been cleared, particularly on the river side.  The facing has fallen off most of the eastern ramparts, which are at risk from vegetation and the elements.  Part of the east and south ramparts, along with bastion 6, suffered badly in the 1969 earthquake.

            The roof structures of towers 3 and 4 (in the central camp, now an open-air theatre), and let the rain in, which is causing severe damage to the timber structure andn walls.  The towers were adapted, but have not been used for many decades.  The walls of the central camp are damaged and the east wall needs to be reconstructed.  The shingles on tower 2 are dilapidated.  The northern half of tower 5, which leads from courtyard III to the Vrbas, is in ruins.

            Conservation and restoration works have been carried out on bastions 4 to 8.  Inside bastion 9, during works carried out from 1969 to 1974, earth was removed, but no major works appear to have been carried out as on the other bastions.  There are cracks visible here and there and at the junction of the walls at the corners, one of which abuts onto the south wall with two adjacent walls.  In some of the upper sections above the stone beam, vegetation is threatening to destroy the wall.  Here and there stone blocks are missing from the wall face, and much of the exterior surface on the north wall has collapsed.

The artillery barracks was abandoned after the 1969 earthquake.  No repairs have been carried out.  The walls have cracked and the wooden structure separating the floors and all the woodwork are badly damaged.  The roof structure and cladding are dilapidated and have collapsed in places.  The arsenal (t 1) by the secondary tower is overgrown with vegetation and has not been studied.




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. i. quality of workmanship

C.iii. proportions

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

D.i. material evidence of a lesser known historical era

D.ii. evidence of historical change

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.i.  Relation to other elements of the site

F.ii. meaning in the townscape   

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

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

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

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity

I.iii. completeness


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

·         Photodocumentation;

·         Drawings




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


1895.    Patsch, Karlo, Epigrafski nahogjaji iz godine 1895 (Epigraphic finds of 1895). Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo VII, Sarajevo, 1895, 573-586.


1909.   Bodenstein, Gustav, Povijest naselja u Posavini 1718-1739.(History of settlements in Posavina 1718-1739) Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo XX, Sarajevo, 1908, 95-112.


1916.    Thaloczy, Ljudevit, Povijest (banovine, grada i varoši Jajca) 1450.-1527. (History of the banate, fort and towns of Jajce) Zagreb, 1916.


1924.    Skarić, Vladimir, Banjaluka i njena okolina u davnini (Banja Luka and surroundings in the past) “Otadžbina”, Banjaluka, 1924, nos. 23 and 24.


1952.   Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Prilozi povijestu bosanskih gradova pod turskom upravom. (Contributions to the history of Bosnian towns under Turkish rule) Contributions to oriental philology and the history of the Yugoslav peoples under Turkish rule II/1951, Oriental Institute in Sarajevo, Sarajevo, 1952, 119-184


1953.   Bejtić, Alija, Banja Luka pod turskom vladavinom. (Banja Luka under Turkish Rule) Naše starine I, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BIH, Sarajevo, 1953, 91-115).


1953.   Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Stari bosanski gradovi. (Old Bosnian towns) Naše starine I, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BIH, Sarajevo, 1953, 7-45.


1954.   Zelenika, Milan, Boj 1937 godine.(The battle of 1937) Encyclopaedia of Yugoslavia.     Lexicographic Institute of FNRJ, vol I, Zagreb, MCMLV, 347.


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


1958.   Anđelić, Pavao, Srednjovjekovni gradovi na Neretvi. Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, n.s. (A), XIII, 1958, 179-231.


1960.    Pašalić, Esad, Antička naselja i komunikacije u Bosni i Hercegovini. (Antique era settlements and communications in BiH) Special edition of the National Museum in Sarajevo, Sarajevo, 1960.


1972.    Basler, Đuro, Arhitektura kasnoantičkog doba u Bosni i Hercegovini. (Architecture of the late antique period in BiH) Cultural Heritage Series,  Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1972.


1972.    Čremošnik, Irma, Kastel, Banja Luka – gradina sa slojevima od praistorije do danas. (Kastel, Banja Luka – fortifications with strata from prehistory to the present day) Archaeological Review 14, League of Archaeological Societies of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1972, 133-134. 


1973.    Čremošnik, Irma, Otkriveno slavensko gradinsko naselje u Kastelu u Banjoj Luci.(Discovery of a Slav fortified settlement in Kastel in Banja Luka) collection of the Krajina Museum V, Banja Luka 1973, 193-195.


1974.    Bojanovski, Ivo, Dolabelin sistem cesta u rimskoj provinciji Dalmaciji. (Dolabellae road system in the Roman province of Dalmatia) Academy of Science and the Arts of BiH, Works, bk. XLVII, Centre for Balkan  Studies, Sarajevo 1974.


1975.    Žeravica, Lidija, Hronološki okvir tvrđave Kastel u Banjoj Luci.  (Chronological context of the Kastel fortress in Banja Luka), Putevi 6, Literary and cultural magazine, Banja Luka, 1976, 685-692.


1979.    Šabanović, Hazim, Čelebija, putopisi. (Travelogue of Evliya Çelebi) Cultural heritage series, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1979.


1980.    Hrabak, Bohumil, Privreda Banjaluke do 1683. godine. (Economy of Banja Luka to 1683) Historical collection I, Banjaluka 1980.


1982.    Šabanović, Hazim, Bosanski pašaluk, postanak i upravna podjela. (Bosnian pashaluk, origins and administrative division) 2nd ed., Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1982.


1983.   Žeravica, Zdenko, Ostaci badenskog naselja na Kastelu u Banja Luci.(Remains of a Baden settlement in Kastel in Banja Luka) Collection, bk.1, Archaeological issues of western Bosnia, Archaeological Society of BiH Sarajevo, 1983.,41-54.


1983.   Graljuk, Boris, Novija arheološka otkrića i ispitivanja na području Banjaluke i okolice. (Recent archaeological finds and studies in Banja Luka and surroundings) Collection, bk.1, Archaeological issues of western Bosnia, Archaeological Society of BiH Sarajevo I, Sarajevo, 1983, 23-40.


1983.   Zdenko-Žeravica, Lidija, Arheološka istraživanja na Kastelu u Banjaluci. (Archaeological research in Kastel, Banja Luka) Naše starine XVI-XVII, Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Nature of BiH, Sarajevo, 1984, 19-45. 


1984.   Graljuk, Boris, Hanište, ranoturski karavanseraj. (Hanipte, early Turkish caravanserai, Archaeological Review), Ljubljana (for 1984), 1985, 268.


1986.    Graljuk, Boris, Banja Luka/Kastel. Archaeological Review (for 1985.), Ljubljana, 1986, 136-137.


1988.    Basler, Đuro, Gravettien. Archaeological lexicon of BiH, National Museum of BiH, vol !, 184


1988.    Bojanovski, Ivo, Bosna i Hercegovina u antičko doba. (BiH in the antique era) Academy of Science and the Arts of BiH, Works, bk, LXVI, Centre for Balkan Studies, bk 6, Sarajevo, 1988


1988.    Graljuk, Boris, 10 godina arheoloških istraživanja područja Banjaluke i okoline. (Ten years of archaeological investigations of Banja Luka and surroundings), Exhibition catalogue, Banjaluka, 1988.


1988.a Graljuk, Boris, Kastel, Banjaluka. Archaeological lexicon of BiH, National museum of BiH, vol II, 130, no. 09.56.


1991.    Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Kapetanije u Bosni i Hercegovini.(Captaincies in BiH) in Selected Works 1, IP Veselin Masleša, Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo, 1991.


1996.    Ševo, Ljiljana, Urbanistički razvoj Banje Luke. (Urban development of Banja Luka) in Urban Development of Banjja Luka, Banja Luka Municipality, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Nature of Banja Luka, Banja Luka, 1995, 13-70 (Cyrillic)  


1998.    Prijedlog programa za sanaciju, konzervaciju, restauraciju i revitalizaciju tvrđave Kastel u Banjoj Luci.(Draft plan for the repair, conservation, restoration and revitalization of Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka), Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Republika Srpska, Banja Luka, May 1998


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