Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Late antique basilica at Crkvina, the archaeological 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 6 to 10 July 2004 the Commission adopted a






The archaeological site of the late antique basilica at Crkvina in Breza is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the archaeological site with the remains of a late antique basilica and the movable heritage items found on the archaeological site and now housed in the National Museum in Sarajevo, as entered in the inventory of the Museum's holdings.

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 819 (new survey), corresponding to c.o. 483/1 (old survey) land registry entry no. 953, cadastral municipality Breza, Municipality Breza, 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, 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 Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




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

Protection Zone I consists of the area specified in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision.  In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • 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 (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • the existing roads north and east of the National Monument shall be relocated;
  • the site of the National Monument shall be open and accessible to the public, and may be used for educational and cultural purposes;
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.

The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for investigating the causes of damage and ensuring that parts of the columns that have been moved are returned to their original positions.


Protection Zone II consists of c.p. 791 (new survey), corresponding to c.o. 485/3 and c.p. 485/7 (old survey) land registry entry  no. 336, c.p. 792 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 486/4 land registry entry no. 336 and c.p. 486/6 (old survey) land registry entry no. 1940, c.p. 793 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. 485/8 (old survey) land registry entry no. 1940, cadastral municipality Breza, Municipality Breza, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • all construction and works that could have the effect of altering the site or the environs are prohibited;
  • works of any kind to the infrastructure are prohibited unless with the approval and with the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of BiH,
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.

Protection Zone III consists of a protective strip 50 m in width from the boundaries of the area comprised by Protection Zones I and II.  In this zone, the construction of buildings designed to display the National Monument shall be permitted.




The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para 3 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) 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 heritage 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 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 and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the relevant ministry, the 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.




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. 152.




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

Decision No.: 05.1-02-31/04/3

6 July 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 2999 the Commission issued a Decision to add the archaeological site of the late antique basilica in Breza to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 152.

            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


Two late antique basilicas were discovered in Breza, about 25 km north of Sarajevo: one on the left bank of the river Stavnja, in Srđ, and the other on the right bank of the Stavnja, in Crkvina.

The basilica in Crkvina is in a residential area not far from the centre of the town. 

Historical information

In the prehistoric and antique periods the Breza area belonged to the central Illyrian region and ethnic lands of the Daesitiati tribe (1).This tribe lived in the area  comprising the upper river Bosna valley, westward to the upper river Vrbas valley and eastward to Rogatica.  The Daesitiati were one of the most important and largest Illyrian tribes, with 103 decuria (fraternities), belonging to the Naron conventa (judicial district).  There are frequent references to them in antique-era sources, particular in regard to their insurrection against the Romans in 6 CE (Imamović, 1977, 32-33, 48).

During the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, with the break-up of the old kin structures among the Daesitiati, settlements began to appear in the lowlands beside  both major and minor watercourses, but still protected by hillforts.  A settlement of this kind grew up in Breza, where a Daesitiati necropolis has been discovered (Paškvalin, 1975, 57-62).  Documentary sources from the early years of the Common Era refer to the Breza area, where one of the major centres of the Daesitiati developed, probably that designated in these sources as He[dum?] [c]astellum Desitiatium (Patsch, 1906, 158).  Scholars locate this somewhere in the environs of Breza or the area between Breza and Kiseljak (Pašalić, 1960, 51; Bojanovski, 1984, 88).  This castellum was on the diagonal route of (the Roman governor Publius Cornelius Dolabela’s system of roads leading from Salonika via central Bosnia to the Drina valley area – Argentaria.  In 19/20 CE the section of road to the He[dum] castellum was completed (Bojanovski, 1974,  181).

In 1930, while excavating the basilica in Crkvina, Dr Čremošnik came upon a Roman inscription of Ulpius Proculus, which had been used in the later building.  The inscription refers to Valens, son of Varon (princeps Daesitiatium), of the prominent Illyrian tribe of the Daesitiati, and to a castellum (castellum Daesitiatium) (Čremošnik, 1930, 9). 

            The archaeological finds of the two places of worship referred to above (in  Srđ (Breza I, in the sources) and Crkvina (Breza II) are of particular significance for a knowledge of the culture of the late antique era in this region.  Minor excavations have been carried out on the Srđ site, when it is likely that the narthex and part of the nave of a late antique church built on the site of a secular building that had been burned down were discovered.  Pieces of parapet slabs and three slabs similar in decorative treatment to the pieces of parapet slabs from Dabravina were found in a secondary position, as well as a protome in the form of a ram's head, recalling the protome with a boar's head found on the Breza II site.  Later, a burial ground grew up on and around the ruins (10-12 century, and necropolis with stećak tombstones (Ćorović, 1930, 409-420; Basler, 1972, 70-71).

The origins of the basilica (Breza II) on the Crkvina site can be roughly dated to the 6th century, specifically from 536 CE, when Pannonia and Dalmatia belonged to the eastern Roman Empire, to no later than 614 CE and the fall of Salonika, when Byzantine rule ended.  It is possible that the basilica dates from the reign of Justinian (527-565) or one of his immediate successors (Bojanovski, Čelić, 1969, 23).


2. Description of the property

            The late antique church, measuring 31.5 x 19 m) is of basilica type, surrounded by colonnades on three sides, and with a projecting semicircular apse on the fourth.           

            Pieces of columns found by the exterior walls, reinforcements in the shape of pilasters on the walls of the nave and narthex and reinforcements at the angles of the north and south walls of the narthex, and projections at the ends of the south wall of the narthex, were of crucial importance for understanding the spatial concept of the building. 

            The building was oriented north-south, unusual for this type of building, with the apse at the south end.  

            To the north of the building was a narthex, measuring 7 x 10 m, which was not reached via the north colonnade at the front of the building, as would have been logical, but was entered from the east colonnade.

            The narthex led into the nave, a rectangular space measuring 14 x 10 m.  No remains of the altar partition or of any sepulchrum were found in the presbyterium.  The nave led directly into the west colonnade.  The proximity of the altar space suggests that the western area was probably used as a diaconicon, and the eastern area simultaneously as a martyrium and baptistery (I. Bojanovski, Dž. Čelić, 1969, 18).  These areas were spanned over the same width along the narthex and nave by a portico abutting onto the north (front) end. The portico was supported by sandstone columns (2).The east entrance was emphasized by a massive extensive.

            The walls of the basilica were built using the opus incertum technique, combined here and there with opus spicatum (”herringbone”).  The thickness of the interior walls was 70 cm, and of the exterior 50 cm.  It had a timber roof frame clad with slats.  Pieces of tile were found only in the portico area.   The dominant mass consisted of the central raised area with gabled roof.  The aqssumption is that there were two towers at the north-east and north-west angles of the building, with gabled roofs and biforas (distyles) on the facades, and that the stairway the remains of which were found at the north-west, reinforced angle of the narthex led to one of the towers (Bojanovski, Čelić, 1969, 18. i 19.).

            The distinctiveness and originality of the building consisted not merely in its spatial concept but also in its rich stone sculptural features.  The columns were turned and ringed with shallow grooves by way of decoration.  The entasis was roughly at the centre of the shaft of the columns. The base was square, without a marked plinth, and with hollows at the angles.  The capitals, recalling imposts in shape, consisted of two plinths between which pointed arches were arrayed.  Other, smaller types of columns were also found, assumed to have belonged to the trifora of the frontispiece (Đ. Basler, 1972. 72).  The front side of the capitals of these columns was decorated with a cross in a mandorla.  Three stylized protomes in the form of boar’s heads, with beside them fragments of a protome in the form of a ram’s head, were found by the exterior wall of the apse.  It was impossible to tell exactly where they had been located in the building.

A Latin alphabet was incised on one of the columns, and an almost complete futhorc (futhark) (of the older type, with 24 characters), the meaning of which has not been deciphered, on another.  The height of the runes ranges from 0.5 to 2.6 cm.  The form of the sumbol for ”h” suggests a western Germanic origin (Looijenga, Tineke, 1999, 263).  Two runic signs, for d” and “th”, were found on one capital.  Latin graffiti were also found on some fragments of column (the Latin alphabet, the word “mise[ricordia]”, the letter “P” and the outline of a horse (Bojanovski,Čelić, 1969, 8).

Many issues relating to the building's stylistic affiliations, date and architectural decoration are still the subject of debate and cannot be adequately proven (3).The basilica succumbed to fire, probably as a result of war, for a tomb was found in the building where the bronze umbo of a shield of Byzantine workmanship, dating to the 6th century, was discovered.

The walls of the basilica remained standing for some time after the fire, as shown by shards of early Slav pottery with comb-like ornamentation (Kammstrichmuster) which were partly covered by the upper layer of soot, particularly in the narthex area.  This pottery dates to the 7th century.


3. Legal status to date

Pursuant to the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH no. 05-370-1/66 of 12 March 1966 in Sarajevo, the site of the "ruins of a late antique basilica in Breza" was placed under state protection.

The archaeological site of the late antique basilica in Breza is on the Provisional List of National Monuments under the title Breza – late antique basilica, serial no. 152.

The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists the monument as Category I.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            In 1930 and 1931, Dr Gregor Čremošnik, custodian of the National Museum in Sarajevo, conducted the first excavations on the site, discovering the remains of a late antique basilica.  He published his findings only in the form of a preliminary report.  The archaeological material was transferred to the National Museum in Sarajevo.

Between 1958 and 1961, further excavations were conducted under Dimitri Sergejevski, but the findings were not published.

Between 1961 and 1968, conservation and restoration works were carried out under the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH.   The programme of works was divided into four stages:

In line with the first part of the 1961 programme, drawn up by Mato Biško, a technician from the Institute, conservation works were carried out in 1961, 1962 and 1963.

In 1965, in association with Prof. Sergejevski, a studious design project for the part restoration of the building was drawn up, consisting of minimum and maximum versions for the elevation of the walls and the part reconstruction of the architectural sculptural features of the colonnade.  The project was led by Ivo Bojanovski. In 1965 the restoration was carried out in terms of the minimum version.  The works were led by Ivica Tometinović, senior preparator of the Museum of the City of Sarajevo, in association with E. Dimitrijević, senior conservator.

In 1967 and 1968 the final works were carried out in terms of the minimum version for the restoration and presentation of the building, under the leadership of Ivo Bojanovski, based on a supplementary programme of works drawn up in 1967.  The programme included the finalization of the upper line of the walls, the portal on the east side, part of the columns and capitals, and was drawn up by Đuro Basler.

In 1968, in line with a project drawn up by A. Ninković, a conservator working for the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I. Bojanovski, who managed the works, and Dž. Čelić, consultant, the works were brought to completion and the presentation was carried out.

            In 1990, at the request of Breza Municipality, the Institute for Architecture in Sarajevo drew up a ”6 April” Regulatory Plan which provided for extending the fencing, landscaping and planting the site, with an entrance gate and rest area for visitors, with the construction of new roads as a prerequisite (4),which has yet to be carried out.

In 2000, based on a project by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conservation and restoration works were carried out on the walls and columns of the basilica, which were badly damaged during the last war.  A metal fence 1.20 m high was installed, three metres from the walls of the building.

The movable archaeological material is held in the premises of the National Museum in Sarajevo. 


5.Current condition of the property:

An on site inspection in May 2004 ascertained as follows:

The site on which the remains of the basilica stand is surrounded by privately owned plots and individual houses.  The surviving walls are largely in good condition, apart from physical damage here and there, probably of recent date.  Two columns with capitals have fallen.  Fragments lie both in an around the building, in the north colonnade and outside the entrance.  The grass has been worn away in part of the narthex and nave, and according to eye-witness accounts, the basilica area is often used by children to play football.




Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C.iv. composition

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

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

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.v. location and setting

H. Rarity and representativity

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


            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:


1906: Patsch, Karlo, Arheološko-epigrafska istraživanja povjesti rimske provincije Dalmacije. VII dio (Archaeological and epigraphic studyies of the history of the Roman province of Dalmatia, pt. VII) Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo XVIII, Sarajevo, 1906, 151-181.


1913: Ćorović, Vladimir, izvještaj o iskopavanjima u Brezi 1913.godine. (Report on the excavations in Breza, 1913), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo XXV, Sarajevo, 1913, 409-420


1930: Čremošnik, Gregor and Sergejevski, Dimitrije, Gotisches und römisches aus Breza bei Sarajevo, Novitates Muzei Sarajevoensis No 9, Sarajevo 1930, 1-9.


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


1964: Bojanovski, Ivo, Kasnoantičke grobnice na svod u BiH (Late antique vaulted tombs in BiH) Naše starine IX, Sarajevo, 1964, 103-118.


1967: Nikolajević, Ivanka, Beleške o nekim problemima ranohrišćanske arhitekture u Bosni i Hercegovini (Notes on some problems of early Christian architecture in BiH) Collected works of the Byzantological Institute, 10, Belgrade 1967, 95 – 116.


1969: Bojanovski, Ivo and Čelić, Džemal, Kasnoantička bazilika u Brezi (The late antique basilica in Breza) Naše starine XII, Sarajevo, 1969, 7 - 25.


1972: Basler, Đuro, Arhitektura kasnoantičkog doba u Bosni i Hercegovini (Architecture of the late antique period in BiH) Sarajevo, 1972, 71. – 75.


1974: Bojanovski, Ivo, Dolabelin sistem cesta u rimskoj provinciji Dalmaciji. (Dolabela's roads system in the Roman province of Dalmatia), Works 47, Centre for Balkan Studies 2, Academy of Science and the Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1974.


1975: Paškvalin, Veljko, Kamenjača, Ul.6.aprila, Breza kod Sarajeva (The 6 April St. Ibex, Breza nr. Sarajevo), Archaeological Review 17, Belgrade 1975, 57-62


1977: Imamović, Enver, Antički kultni i votivni spomenici na području Bosne i Hercegovina (Antique cult and votive monuments in BiH) Sarajevo, 1977, 32-33


1986: Basler, Đuro, Kršćanska arheologija (Christian archaeology), Mostar, 1986


1988: Bojanovski, Ivo, Bosna i Hercegovina u antičko doba (BiH in the antique era) Works LXVI, Centre for Balkan Studies 6, Sarajevo, 1988


1999: Looijenga, Tineke, Who wrote the Breza futhark and why? Grippe, Kamm und Eulenspiegel, Berlin, New York, 1999, 263-277


(1) The name of the tribe is associated with the Illyrian word "des", meaning ram (sheep) (Basler,1986,105).

(2)  According to I. Bojanovski and Dž. Čelić, the columns were linked by wooden architrave beams, while Đ. Basler refers to tufa arches.

(3)   Dr Čremošnik, and later Abramić and Basler, speak of an Ostrogothic origin for this art.   Based on the wealth and originality of the sculptural features, Sergejevski and Karaman are inclined to see the decoration as Illyrian in character, claiming it to be very similar to the technique of wood-carving. When analyzing the architectural concept and individual features of the basilica, Bojanovski and Čelić highlight the influence of the architecture of Syria and Asia Minor, reflected in particular in its longitudinal form, prominent semicircular apse, pastofora on the sides of the apse, the side entrance to the basilica, the facade with two low towers and the absence of a sepulchrum (Bojanovski, Čelić, 1969, 22-23, and other references).

(4)   Plan attached – Extract from the "6 April"  Regulatory Plan

Late antique basilica at Crkvinain Breza, photo from 2004The map of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina in antique periodBasilica after restauration in 1968The part of the colonnade after restoration
Restoration, axonometric view, Đ.BaslerThe plan of basilica at Crkvina, Đ.BaslerReconstruction of basilica, facades, Đ.Basler Reconstruction of basilica - Bojanovski, Čelić
Basilica at Crkvina, view to the eastWest porchPillar Archaeological material, inscription
CapitalsMovable archaeological finding, German umbo  

BiH jezici 
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