Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Zavra mosque, the architectural ensemble

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 6 to 10 July 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the Zavra mosque in Livno is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The architectural ensemble consists of the mosque, the mezarje (burial ground) within the harem wall, and the harem wall itself with entrance gate.

            The National Monument stands on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 8/59 and 8/60 (old survey), Land Registry entry no. 867, cadastral municipality Livno, Livno Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH nos. 2/02, 27/02 and 6/04) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve and display the National Monument.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the repairs tof 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.




            The following measures are hereby stipulated, applicable to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.

Ÿ  all works on the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works 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),

Ÿ  the building shall be protected from the effects of damp,

Ÿ  of the walls of the building shall be repaired and conserved,

Ÿ  the roof structure and minaret shall be repaired,

Ÿ  research works and restoration of the painted surfaces in the mosque interior, shall be carried out

Ÿ  the nišan tombstones in the harem of the mosque shall be conserved.




            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 conservation thereof.




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




            This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH.


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



Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


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.

            Following receipt of a petition from the Centre for Islamic Architecture, 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:

Ÿ  Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of proof of title)

Ÿ  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.

Ÿ  Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


            The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1.  Details of the property


            The architectural ensemble of the Zavra mosque in Livno stands in Stara mahala.  The plot on which the harem stands is bounded by Tepet and Nurije Pivčić streets.

            The architectural ensemble stands on a site consisting of c.p. 8/59 and 8/60 (old survey), title sheet no 720, owned by the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar Muftistvo, Vakuf Commission Livno; in sole ownership; c.m. Livno, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.   

            The entrance to the harem of the Zavra mosque is from the north.

            The main axis of the mosque lies north-west/south-east.  The entrance is to the north-west.  The mihrab wall is to the south-east.  The graves within the mosque harem lie with their long axis (headstone to footstone) north-east/south-west.   

Historical information

            The typical mosque in BiH, in the light of their numbers, is the mosque with a wooden minaret(1).  According to M. Bećirbegović, mosques with wooden minarets originated as the result of Islamic culture and the collective needs of the people.  They were built in a distinctive «local» architectural expression, and are associated in large measure with the traditional architecture of the region.

            Again according to M. Bećirbegović, mosques with wooden minarets in Livno and throughout western Bosnia were built of stone, with shingle-clad roofs.  Typically, they have simple, so-called blind minarets, of which the gallery is almost entirely enclosed, with small apertures near the top.

            During his travels through the Balkans in the mid 17th century, Evliya Çelebi found 13 mosques, 7 of which were quite large, in Livno.  He gave a translation of the tarih (chronogram) and name of only three domed mosques.

            In the late 19th century, S. S. Kranjčević reported that Livno had 11 mosques.

            During his studies of the origins of mosques in Livno using Turkish censuses (defters), Rapko Orman(2)  found that eight mosques were built in Livno between 1528 and 1604.  The censuses do not refer to certain mosques(3) of which the inscriptions recording their construction indicate that they existed at that time.  On the other hand, some mosques are recorded(4)  that no longer exist by those names and of which the history is unknown.

            The Zavra mosque does not appear, at least under that name, in the census of mosques built prior to 1604.  Neither the name of the founder nor the year in which the Zavra mosque was built is known. 

            There is an inscription over the portal of the mosque, recording its renovation(5) in1867, but none of its construction.  The name Zavra is is the one used by the local inhabitants.


2. Description of the property


            In terms of layout, the Zavra mosque belongs to the single-space type of mosque with pitched roof and wooden, covered (enclosed) minaret, with enclosed sofas and with a mahfil at the front.

            The entrance wall built in 1867 to enclose the sofas is decorated in the baroque manner(6).

            The building measures 11.25 x 8.35 m on the exterior. The area of the interior is approx. 70 sq. m, and the total prayer space area including the mahfil is approx. 90 sq.m.  The height of the interior of the mosque from floor to ceiling is about 4.30 m, and of the minaret approx. 7.0 m.

            The building underwent considerable repairs in 1867.  The walls of the mosque are of irregular stone with large quantities of lime mortar, and are 60 cm thick in the case of the entrance wall and up to 80 cm thick in the case of the mihrab wall.  The quoins are larger, regular-cut stone blocks.  The mosque is plastered on the exterior with a layer of cement mortar approx. 3 cm thick.  With the exception of the later addition of the entrance wall, which is of regular blocks left unplastered.

            In the interior, the walls are plastered and painted(7). 

            Given its basic typological features, it may be assumed that the mosque originally had an exterior portico with sofas.  Both stylistic features and historical data indicate that the present front wall of the facade is a latter addition and that the portico was walled up when it was built.  The eaves project forward by a metre from the wall over the entrance, as compared with a width of approx. 40 cm on the rest of the building.

            The mosque has a wooden ceiling. The hipped roof is now clad with tiles.

            The present-day wooden minaret(8) emerges from the roof structure on the south-west side.  The body of the minaret is tall and slender, and the apertures on the šerefe are markedly large (half the total height of the šerefe).   The body of the minaret is twelve-sided, corresponding to the number of verses in the call to prayer called by the muezzin from the minaret.  The sides are formed of two planks, and the edges are sealed and emphasized by iron bands.  The šerefe (gallery) is wider than the body of the minaret (by some 15-20 cm) and has a small serrated string course in the lower zone.  The apertures of the šerefe terminate in moulded arches.  Below the šerefe there is a wooden decorative feature in the form of serrated arrows, one on each side of the minaret.  The šerefe balustrade is also adorned with wooden decorations in the form of rhombs (one on each side).  The roof, which terminates in an alem or finial, is unusually shallow.

The Zavra mosque was built on land with a marked slope, so that on the side towards Nurije Pivčić street, the north-eastern side, the building appears to be of a single storey, while towards Tepet street, the south-eastern side, it gives the appearance of having two storeys.

            Depending on the lie of the land, the walls have one or two horizontal rows of windows .

            The windows of the first horizontal row, appearing on the south-west and north-west walls of the building, are rectangular.  Those in the south-west wall (measuring approx. 110 cm wide x 140 cm high) have stone frames on the outside, approx. 18 cm wide x 14 cm deep, and wrought iron demire (grids).  The windows in the north-west wall (measuring approx. 110 cm wide x 155 cm high), also have stone frames and wrought iron grids on the outside.  The rectangular apertures terminate in a moulded stone lintel.  Inside, there are shallow, curved relieving arches above the windows of the first row on both walls

            The second horizontal row of windows (rectangular frames measuring approx. 100 cm wide x 155 cm high, height to top of the arch approx. 120 cm) extends around all four walls, including the entrance wall.  In the case of the north-west and south-west walls, they each consist of an exterior rectangular field composed of four stone sections, with a round-arched window within.  In the case of the north-east and south-east walls, which have only a single row of windows, the round-arched windows lack the exterior rectangular field.   The centre of each window is emphasized by a bas-relief decoration in the form of the top of a curved arch, set in the centre of the stone frame. The windows each have two horizontal iron bars on the exterior.  Only the windows on the south-east, mihrab wall have grids.  The rectangular window opening on the north-west, entrance wall terminates in a moulded stone lintel.  On the inside, the windows of the second row each terminate in a shallow semi-elliptical relieving arch.

            The south-west, entrance wall of the Zavra mosque in Livno differs from the rest of the mosque in structure and decoration.  The tarih (inscription) above the entrance door relates the renovation of the mosque by the inhabitants of the mahala in 1284 AH (1867 CE).

            The entrance door is distinctive in the symmetry of the aperture and in its decoration.  It is made of regular cut blocks, with the corners emphasized by projecting blocks, and adorned with decorations in the baroque style.  The decorative features are set vertically in three fields.

            The two end fields are identical, and can be divided horizontally into three bands.  The verticals of these end fields consists of the ground-floor windows, and decoration in bas-relief in the form of stylized interlinked volutes with floral designs and the upper windows between them.

            The central vertical field is occupied by the portal, which can be divided both horizontally and vertically into three parts.

            The portal is of simple treatment.   The arched opening is set within a rectangular frame projecting slightly forward (7 cm) from the wall surface.  The fields between the stone arch and the rectangular frame are decorated with bas-relief floral designs and rosettes.  The wooden double doors are each divided into three rectangular fieldsvertically and horizontally, and terminate in a glazed lunette.

            Three-quarter stone pilasters (pilasters ¾ of which project out from the wall) are set symmetrically in relation to the portal.  These have a moulded base over which the pilaster «emerges from a shell» (the base of the pilaster itself is decorated with designs recalling a shell shape).  Just below the capitals the pilasters are decorated with floral designs.  The capitals are a simple, free composition of composite capitals.

            There is a horizontal band framed in moulded decorative string courses on the portal and the capitals of the pilasters.   Within this band, the area above the portal is vertically divided into three parts, in which there are inscriptions in fine ta'liq script (according to M. Mujezinović).

            Above the pilasters, in the last horizontal band, are stylized urns bearing crescent moons and stars, while above the portal there is an enlarged version of the same design as appears between the windows.  The area between the symmetrically placed organic decorations in the form of curves and volutes is filled with floral designs.

            Beneath the eaves, with a lower roof board of wooden boards painted dark green, there is a terminal moulded stone cornice painted in alternating bright red and blue..

            The interior space of the mosque is divided into two areas, interior sofas from which the mahfil, and from it the minaret, are reached, and the main prayer space.  All the interior wall surfaces are plastered and painted.  The final coat(9) of painted decoration is beige (sand-coloured with an admixture of warm reddish tones), with stencilled floral designs in red (branchlets and leaves).

            The area of the interior sofas is raised by some 30 cm above floor level of the prayer space, and separated from it by a 45 cm high wooden railing made of flat wooden uprights in the form of a balustrade or stylized vases with flowers, set between two wooden beams.

            An unusually steep wooden, L-shaped staircase leads from the left-hand sofa (facing the mihrab) to the mahfil.   By virtue of its position within the space, the mahfil of the Zavra mosque belongs to the type known as front mahfils, set against just one wall, the entrance wall.  A specific feature of the mahfil in the Zavra mosque is that it has no projection for the muezzin.

            Six pillars, three for each interior sofa, bear five shallow curved arches on which the timber structure of the mahfil is supported.   The mahfil projects by 45 cm in relation to the level of the arches of the interior sofas.  The wooden mahfil railing is 55 cm high, and is decoration is identical to the sofa railing.

            A single wooden ceiling covers the entire mosque space.  Over the mahfil the ceiling rests on seven pillars via four curved arches (the central two fields have no arches).  The ceiling is now made of wooden ply set between small wooden beams in 30 rectangular fields (6 x 5).

            The mimber of the Zavra mosque is wooden.  The front side has an aperture with canvas that closes off the portal.  The rectangular frame of the portal surrounds a curved arch, and the crown above the frame, consisting of two parts, is decorated with stylized flowers along the edges.  The sides, the mimber railing, are completely enclosed by wooden boards, with no passageway beneath the podium (the area to which the mimber steps lead).  The podium is framed by four small pillars joined by curved arches, bearing a canopy on which is an octagonal drum and a polygonal terminal with alem.

            The mihrab area is 161 cm wide and 370 cm high, and projects out from the wall surface by 15.5 cm.  A simple, rectangular, moulded stone frame surrounds the heptagonal mihrab niche vaulted by decorations of triangular shape.   The mihrab area terminates with a plaque with a calligraphic inscription and serrated decorations.

            There is a wooden podium in front of the mihrab on both sides.  An area 82 cm wide is separated from the rest of the prayer space by a wooden railing 70 cm high differing in colour and decoration from the rest of the woodwork in the mosque.

            The minaret is reached from the mahfil and thence from the flat ceiling by an unusually steep staircase with no stair-rail.


            The courtyard of the Zavra mosque now contains only three pairs of nišan tombstones.

The mezar (tomb) of Mehmed effendi, who died in 1853/54, stands in the small entrance courtyard right by the entrance to the mosque.   His nišan tombstone, richly adorned with an epitaph and decorative designs, has unfortunately been badly damaged by weathering.

All that remains of the second pair of nišan tombstones, standing close to the mihrab wall, is one bašluk (tombstone) overgrown with grass.

            The third pair of nišans are larger in size and stand to the right of the mosque.  They lack decorations but have a lengthy epitaph recording that this nišan marks the mezar of a hatib, one Abdulah effendi.  This nišan too has been badly damaged by weathering.

            The Zavra mosque in Livno is one of the buildings in Bosnia and Herzegovina of which certain elements have some baroque features. 

            The composition of the elements, the freely interpreted composite pillars and organic decorations used to adorn the entrance facade, together with the curved arches used in the interior of the building, suggest the baroque.


3. Legal status to date

            The building has not been under state protection.


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works

            The repair and maintenance of the Zavra mosque in Livno have not been carried out under the expert supervision of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments, so that there are no exact details of the type or extent of interventions to the building.

            In 1982 the local inhabitants replaced the wooden minaret, which was badly dilapidated.  The only information on the old minaret is a photograph by M. Mujezinović, published in his Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine. Comparing the new with the old minaret reveals that the new one is taller and more slender than its predecessor.  The gallery is enclosed, which is another difference from the old minaret.

            It is probably at this time, too, that the ceiling inside the mosque was replaced, but since there is no information at all on the old ceiling it is impossible to say what changes might have been made.


5.  Current condition of the property

            The Zavra mosque is in rather poor condition as a result of lack of maintenance.  There are signs of damp on the walls, which has resulted in damage to the interior decorations.  The roof structure is in relatively poor condition.  Access to the minaret is prohibited because of structural instability.

            The Zavra mosque ceased to be used a year ago.



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

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

D. Clarity

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

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

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

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

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the architectural ensemble of the Zavra mosque in Livno as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1996.    Evliya Çelebi, Putopis (Travelogue), Sarajevo Publishing, Sarajevo, 1996.


1998.    Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic epigraphics of BiH), Bk III, 3rd ed., Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo Publishing, 1998.


1999.    Bećirbegović, Madžida, Džamije sa drvenom munarom u Bosni i Hercegovini (Mosques with wooden minarets in BiH), 2nd ed, Sarajevo Publishing, Sarajevo, 1999.


1999. Rapko, Orman, Blago pod kupolom – livanjske potkupolne džamije (Domed treasures – Livno's domed mosques), Planjax, Tešanj, 1999.



(1)They were formerly the most numerous religious buildings in Bosnia, as evidenced by the fact that in the past, of 1120 mosques no fewer than 786, of which 770 were in Bosnia and 16 in Herzegovina, had wooden minarets.» Madžida Bećirbegović, Džamije sa drvenom munarom u BiH.

(2) Rapko Orman, Livanjske potkupolne džamije

(3) Mosques not listed: Starogradska (Old Fort) mosque, Hajji Ahmet Dukatar or Glavica mosque

(4) These are: the Hadži Uvejs mosque, the Mehmed-aga mosque, the Pehlivan Hasan mosque (masjid) and the Husejn Etkmeči-zada mosque (masjid).

(5) «Allah is One, and Muhammad is His messenger.  This noble mosque was renovated with the donations and assistance of the honourable inhabitants of this mahala, and the renovation was completed during the just reight of Sultan Gazi Abdul Aziz khan.»  M. Mujezinović, Islamska epigrafika BiH, p. 114

(6) The assumption that the entrance wall was built in 1867 is based on the style of the portal and on the tarih or chronogram above the entrance door, recording the renovation of the mosque

(7) In his Blago pod kupolom Rapko Orman notes that the interior of all the domed mosques of Livno had wall paintings.

(8) The present-day wooden minaret dates from 1982, when the local inhabitants replaced the old one which was very dilapidated. The only information on the old minaret is a photograph by M. Mujezinović dating from the 1970s, which shows that the previous minaret was shorter and stouter (like the stone minarets of Livno), with an open gallery.  In his Islamska epigrafika BiH M. Mujezinović porposes the hypothesis, based on the fact that the mosque walls are stone-built, that the minaret was also stone-built at one time. According to M. Bećirbegović's Džamije sa drvenom munarom u BiH, mosques with wooden minarets in western Bosnia were generally stone-built, since this was a readily available material.  In the light of this, and the fact that there is no visible place for a minaret on the walls of the mosque, it is possible that Mujezinovićev’s hypothesis is incorrect or that the mosque underwent major alterations during the 1867 renovations, including replacing the minaret. 

(9) Pieces of mortar and paint are missing on some places and the remains of the old mortar in different color are visible. Taking into consideration different colors (dark-green, blue and red color) it is possible that several older layers of mortars existed.

Zavra mosque in LivnoZavra mosque in Livno, photo from seventies of XX century Zavra mosque, photo from 2004Entrance facade
Interior of the mosque, mihrab and mimber MahfilNišan tombstones in the harem of Zavra mosque 

BiH jezici 
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