Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Residential complex of the Muslibegović family, 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 residential architectural ensemble of the residential complex of the Muslibegović family in Mostar, together with movable property, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of a residential building, two courtyards, including the surrounding walls with entrance gateways, and movable property: a Qur'an, levhas, and a sabre.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 2864 (new survey), Land Register entry no. 1033, cadastral municipality Mostar I, City of Mostar, 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 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.




Protection Zone I consists of the site defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.

All works on the National Monument are prohibited other than regular maintenance and conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

The original use of the main building, the family house, should ideally continue to be used in future for its original residential purpose.

The complex or parts thereof may be used for educational and cultural purposes and are open to the public.




The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para. 2 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 the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the items in any way. 

In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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 Federal Ministry responsible for culture, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Registry.




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.


No: 09-02-1001/03-1

8 July 2004                                                                                                                   



Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


E l u c i d a t i o n




Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

The Commission received a petition from the owner of the building, Muslibegović Tadžudin, on 1 September 2003.

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:

  • 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.
  • Documentation on the location of the property
  • Documentation on the current owner and user of the property
  • 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 residential complex of the Muslibegović family stands in Brankovac mahala, on a site comprising c.p. 2864, c.m. Mostar I, City of Mostar, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Access to the complex is from the south, from Osman Đikić street.  The entrance to both courtyards of the complex is from the south, from the access street.

The residential complex of the Muslibegović family lies east-west, with the entrance facade of the main building facing south, towards the street.

Historical information

The residential complex of the Muslibegović family, located in Brankovac mahala(1),  Osman Đikić street, dates from the second half of the 18th century (AKTC/WMF Mostar Project – Muslibegovića complex).

The Muslibegović family house is one of the largest and most monumental examples of residential architecture of the Ottoman period in Herzegovina.  Over the years the complex has retained its original residential use and ownership(2).

The main family house was extended during 1871 and/or 1872, when two rooms were added on the ground floor and two on the upper floor, and a mutvak (summer kitchen), larder/storeroom and cistern were built on, as evidenced by the building permit in Turkish issued by the Mostar beledija (municipality) (3). According to a former owner of the building, Muhamed Muslibegović, the building works were carried out by one Janjić, though the wood carvings, which took two years' work, were from other regions.  The house was built at the expense of Mehmed Muslibegović, who had extensive land holdings, particularly in Popovo polje.

The existence of a building permit places the Muslibegović house among the few buildings of the period to have such a permit.


2. Description of the property

In layout the house is of the type with a central hall.  The ground plan of a house with a central hall is the final stage in the evolution of the layout of houses, and the most valuable spatial arrangement, since the hall is the least exposed to outside influences. According to S. H. Eldem, a professor from Turkey, this house layout with a central, interior hall was first used in the 18th century, but came to be widely used only in the 19th, as the result of increasing population pressure in the town, which meant that building plots became smaller and more expensive, and smaller courtyards led people to seek greater space within the house itself.  The desire for a comfortable living environment, without exposure to dust and cold, and the need to use the hall all year round, were among the sociological reasons for the increasing use of this type of house layout.  A compact layout of this type made it possible to accommodate more rooms in the same area which, by setting them one alongside another, avoided the need for numerous walls, resulting in reduced building costs.  Another reason cited by Eldem for turning to houses with a central interior hall was that this type of layout was used as long ago as the Central Asian period and in Anatolian Turkish architecture, in which it was used for medresas, mosques and large buildings.  From the 18th century on this type was revived and began to be used first in the houses of the ruling class and then among the citizenry.

Among other changes in residential buildings in the late 19th century as a result of social changes was the shift from what had been the norm of a two-storey house (ground and one upper floor).  Following the model of architecture in the capital (houses in Turkey have at least two upper floors) and in the Mediterranean, and as a result of higher land prices and the construction of houses between adjoining buildings, basements began to be constructed and attic spaces to be used.

The Muslibegović house also differs from other houses built in the Ottoman period in the layout of the rooms by storey, consisting as it does of a basement, ground floor, first floor and attic floor, with all three storeys above ground used for residential purposes.

The end of the 19th century also saw some changes in residential architecture that can also be seen in the Muslibegović house, such as higher ceilings, kitchens with a hearth with a chimney built into the wall, and in consequence no dimaluk (smoke outlet) leading to the roof, and almost modern sanitary facilities.

During his research into the residential architecture of Mostar and its environs, Amir Pašić writes(4), citing numerous instances in corroboration of his claim, that Islamic buildings adopted the Mediterranean Renaissance-baroque forms and were generally, to some extent at least, subject to Mediterranean influences, as is particularly noticeable in Herzegovina.  He also notes numerous similarities, particularly in the layout of the building, between the palaces of Dubrovnik (the ground and first floor have the identical layout of a hall with four rooms off) outside the city walls and the houses in Mostar.  In reference to the Muslibegović house in Mostar, Pašić cites the example of the Zimonjić palace in Dubrovačka Rijeka as a building with an unusually similar layout.

The influence of Dalmatian architecture is also reflected in the case of the Muslibegović house in the treatment of the entrance into the hajat and in the ground-floor mutvak – a vaulted entrance with two stone arches.

An unusually high courtyard wall surrounds the residential complex of the Muslibegović family.  The complex, which faces the street, consists of two courtyards, one business and one private for the family, so that there are also two wooden entrance gateways in the south wall.

The main entrance to the private, family courtyard is through a gateway in the south courtyard wall.  This courtyard, which is L-shaped around the family building, measuring 19.00 x 7.00 m and 5.7 x 9.4 m, is separated by its planting, the treatment of the ground surfaces and their levels, into three sections.  All three are cobbled with stone pebbles which, in layout and colour (white and grey) were used to create specific geometric designs.  Greenery and flowers, mainly roses, are planted along the entire south courtyard wall and around the walls of the house.  The entrance part of the courtyard is one level higher than the areas to the south and west of the house, from which it is additionally separated by greenery. The entrance to the basement area of the house and the outside WC opposite it are in the part of the courtyard to the west of the house.

The main, larger part of the courtyard is that in front of the house.  A tall palm tree is planted in the centre, exactly in line with the centre of the house.  Behind the palm, on the south courtyard wall, are a fountain and outside dining area.  The stone bench and table stand beneath a timber pergola on two stone pillars, covered by grape vines.

Within the family courtyard, in addition to the outside dining area by the south wall there is a mutvak with a larder/storeroom by the east wall, the main building of the family house by the north wall, and a cistern in the northern corner of the plot between the house and the larder/storeroom.

In layout, the Muslibegović house is an example of the type of house with a central hall.  It is completely symmetrical along both axes.  The centrally located hall is enclosed lengthwise by rooms; a double-flight wooden L-shaped staircase is set back between the rooms, and on the fourth wide the hall continues on the upper floors into a jazluk, or area where the family come together.

As a result of the features of the terrain (being built in an existing block and mahala), the house is open on three sides.

In the materials used to build the house and in its structural system, the Muslibegović house is simila to two houses built in Stolac during the Ottoman period, the Đulhanuma konak and Salih-aga Behmen’s house. 

Local quarry stone was used for the walls, which are plastered outside and whitewashed inside.  The walls of the upper floors are joined to those of the ground floor and basement in their entirety.  The exterior walls of the building are 55 to 60 cm thick, and the interior load-bearing walls, running both ways – one transverse and two longitudinal, dividing the rooms from the hall – are 40 to 50 cm thick.  The partition walls are considerably thinner, at about 20 cm.

Timber was used for the staircase, interfloor and roof structure, the partitions between the hall and the jazluks, and for the doors and windows.  The interfloor structure of the house consists of timber beams supporting the wooden floors of the upper floor, with šašavac wedges between the beams on the underside.  The woodwork of the doors, musandera (built-in wall cupboards) and sećija (built-in wall seating) is a fine example of wood carving.  Each room within the house has a carefully designed wooden ceiling executed using geometric designs.  The ceiling structure is also of timber beams.  The attic floor is in use.

Stone taken from nearby quarries was used for the column and arches of the ground floor and, cut into stone slabs, to clad the many-pitched roof.

The windows stand out against the white plastered façades of the house.  Those of the basement, which feature on all three façades, and measure 80 x 40 cm, are wooden double windows with iron grids on the outside.  All the windows of the rooms, measuring 85 x 110 cm, other than those of the front façade of the oriel window on the first floor, are rectangular wooden double windows with six panes.  The ground-floor windows have grids on the outside, but those of the first floor have none. Those of both the ground and the first floor have a relieving niche on the inside.  Those of the bathrooms, on the side façades only, are smaller squarish wooden windows measuring 60 x 50 cm.

The first-floor windows of the oriel are the same in size and shape as the other windows lighting the first-floor rooms.  They differ from the others in terminating in a curved arch.  The windows on the sides of the oriel feature a reverse triangular pendentive.

The second-floor windows of the oriel are the same in size and shape as the other windows lighting the rooms, but open horizontally, with the movable lower half opening upwards.

The design of the Muslibegović house clearly reveals that it was built in the second half of the 19th century under the powerful influence of contemporary architectural developments in the capital, which reached this country with a delay of about half a century, as well as the somewhat less marked influence of the Mediterranean.  The building, which is open on three sides, has only one main façade, the composition of which, like that of the building as a whole, has no exaggerated exuberance of volumes.  The new approach to architecture is evident not only in the construction of a basement and the use of the attic space, but also in the fact that the house is divided, not by volumes (which form separaate residential units), but by horizontal levels – the basement, ground floor and upper floors are clearly indicated and separated by shallow projections and string courses.  The house is characterized by a rigid symmetry around an imaginary vertical axis.  The volume of the building constitutes a single cube, from which projects a two-storey oriel constructed of timber, which is not left visible but is plastered on the outside.

The entrance to the house was designed under the influence of Dalmatian architecture, which the similarity of climate makes possible.  The two large arched openings below the oriel mean that nature and the courtyard are interlinked with the interior space of the hajat.

Another new influence is seen in the decorative elements, used solely on the main entrance façade.  The upper floor projects slightly above the ground floor and rests on joists and pillars with corbels, extending along the entire length of the façade.   At the corners, or rather at the junction of the walls on the main façade, the horizontal band of the first floor is surrounded by a shallow bossage merging, beneath the eaves, into a terminal, simply executed cornice.  Below the row of windows to the left and right of the oriel are relief decorations in the form of rhombs with the star of David in the centre, one rhomb below each window.  The row of windows terminates in a relief string cornice of framed four-leaved clover from which two stylized bells hang between and at the ends of the each of the windows.

The star of David with a flower or circle in the centre also features on the capital of the stone column of the ground floor.  The entrance portal features the star of David and a rosette, above the column, along with pommel designs.

The entrance, raised above ground-level by four steps, consists of two arched openings level with the wall, between the stone column and the side walls.  Two arches each decorated with three pommels rest on the capital, which is decorated with a star of David on the sides and a hexagon on the front.

            The wooden double doors are set back 1.80 m from the wall and the column, and lead into the rectangular area of the hajat, measuring 6.00 x 4.5 m.

The hajat, which has wooden floorboards, leads into four rooms and one bathroom.

To the left-hand, western side of the hajat, with windows in the south and west façades, is a room equipped with its original furnishings(5), consisting of a musandera(6), one dolaf or wall cupboard, and a rafa (shelf) running along the three free walls of the room, at the level of the top of the relieving niches of the windows.

There are also a modern kitchen and modernized bathroom on the western side of the hajat.

There are two rooms to the right, eastern side of the hajat.  One has no musandera, while in the other a new one has been made(7), to the model of the old one.  The room with the musandera, on the south, entrance façade, was shortened during restoration in 1999-2001 by 1.30 m to make a modern fitted bathroom.

The original timber ceiling structure of substantial beams with boards between is visible in the hajat and all the other rooms on the ground floor.

A single-flight stone staircase leads from the hajat down into the basement to the left-hand, eastern side of the house, which has two rooms.  A large jar is built into the wall between them; this was used as a kind of frigidaire to keep eggs fresh.  The two basement rooms to the right-hand, western side of the basement cannot be reached from within the house, but via an outside staircase from the courtyard.

An L-shaped wooden staircase leads from the hajat to the tavan – the hall on the first floor, measuring 4.00 x 4.2 m.  The tavan is not merely a passage-way but also an antechamber where people could sit (a three-seated was placed by the enclosed staircase area), as evidenced also by the fact that there were doors both to the entrance to the tavan and also to the staircase leading to the second floor.  The original timber structure, identical to that of the ground floor, is to be seen in the tavan.

The tavan, which has wooden floorboards, leads into four rooms, a pair on each side.

To the left are two rooms with musanderas, between which is a bathroom with a door into it from each room.

The first room by the staircase has retained its original furnishings, including a built-in musandera(8) along the entrance wall, a dolaf or cupboard set in the wall separating the two rooms, and a wooden rafa or shelf running along the three free walls at the level of the top of the arches of the relieving niches of the windows.  The L-shaped sećija has been reconstructed.  The wooden ceiling is of ”šašavac” construction(9). The rectangular ceiling area consists of wooden beams forming an octagon divided into three sections within which the šašavci are set so as to radiate out from the centre of the ceiling towards the edges of the surrounding outer octagon.  This is set in the ceiling in such a way that four sides touch the edges of the ceiling.  The inner octagon, set in the very centre of the ceiling, is separated not only by a simply-executed moulded wooden beam, like the other two, but also by an additional beam, decorated and serrated on the under side.  A light fitting hangs from the very centre.

The room with windows in the south and west façades has retained, of its original furnishings, only two dolafs in the east wall.  The musandera(10) has been reconstructed to the model of the original one, as have the L-shaped sećija and the ceiling(11),  which is identical to the wooden ceiling in the adjoining room.

There are two rooms to the right of the tavan, which have retained their original fixtures, with no bathroom between or in them.

The furniture of the room by the staircase consists of a musandera(12), a dolaf, a rafa running along three walls, and an L-shaped sećija.  The wooden ceiling is of šašavac construction.  The rectangular ceiling is divided by moulded wooden slats, serrated on the underside, into three rectangular sections.  The outer band consists of šašavci set at right angles to the wooden beams.  The central part of the ceiling is divided into six longitudinal fields by wooden beams running north-south.  The šašavci within the central part are set at an angle, herring-bone style. The central part, the orta, is decorated in relief with stylized flowers executed in wood, inscribed in the square of the orta.  There is a light fitting hanging from the centre.

The room with windows on the south side is fitted with a musandera, two dolafs and a shelf running round three walls.  A particular feature of this room is its stone fireplace(13),  built at the same time as the house.  The fireplace consists of two parts – the hearth, which has been reconstructed, and the chimney piece, which is original.  The hearth, which is raised above floor level on projecting side pieces, projects in triangular shape into the room.  The shape of a pentagon with markedly rounded side corners that projects sharply into the room is repeated in the chimney hood.  The four sides of the hood (the two sides of which are much narrower than the front sections) are ”held” by a spiral band at the top with a stylized fleur-de-lis above. The two vertical front sections of the fireplace are moulded and decorated with a somewhat elongated curved arch with an inverted teardrop at the centre.  The edging strip of the vertical part of the chimney hood is painted red, as is the inverted teardrop.  The entire surface of the chimney hood is painted with somewhat damaged flourishes in blackish grey.

The traces of walled-up windows are visible to the left and right of the fireplace in the east wall of the room.   These traces suggest that they were of the same shape as the other windows in this room.

The rectangular wooden ceiling, of šašavac construction with moulded wooden slats, is divided into four parts.  In the two outer rectangular sections the šašavci are set at right-angles to the wooden slats and radially in the corners.  A hexagon is inscribed within the third rectangular section so that four sides touch the rectangle. Within this hexagon the šašavci are set radially outwards from a central hexagon, which forms the fourth section of the ceiling. This central hexagon, separated by moulded wooden slats, serrated on the underside, is divided by eight wooden slats linking its corners.  The šašavci within the fields that are thus created are set diagonally.  A light fitting hangs from the centre.

The central area of the first floor, where the family gather, constitutes the jazluk – part of the tavan raised by one step – which projects outwards from the face of the wall, forming an oriel. The jazluk, with windows in the east, south and west façades, is separated from the tavan not only by the difference in floor level but also by a wooden partition, consisting of four pillars supporting three arches.  The side openings are enclosed by a wooden railing of moulded uprights.  The arches on these side openings are joined by wooden rafters.  The central, arched opening leads into the jazluk, within which is a U-shaped wooden sećija.  Two dolafs in the side walls are original fittings in this room, which is completely open to the courtyard and nature, and was designed for conversation, leisure and enjoyment.

The wooden ceiling of the jazluk constitutes a separate entity from that of the tavan.  Of šašavac construction, it is divided into four parts by moulded wooden slats.  The outer rectangular section is filled with šašavci set at right-angles to the wooden slats.  The šašavci in the three inner sections are set radially, so that they radiate outwards from the centre towards the outer edge of the third rectangular section.  The second inner section is a hexagon, separated by moulded wooden slats, serrated on the underside, from the rest.  In the very centre is yet another octagon, within which is a many-pointed star with spiral arms, executed in wood in relief. A light fitting hangs from the centre.

A wooden U-shaped staircase enclosed by wooden boards and a door at first-floor level leads to the attic, emerging into the second-floor tavan, measuring 4.00 x 3.00 m.  The light-well of the staircase is enclosed, providing an area separated by a wooden railing from both the staircase and the second-floor tavan at the same level as the area in question.  Above the staicase, between the wall and the light-well, is a composite wooden surface, the tahtopeš (tahtapoš), designed to display the most valuable vessels.

The tavan area is separated from the staircase area by five wooden pillars supporting four arches.  Three of the arches are joined by a wooden beam and enclosed by a wooden railing with uprights in front of which is a bench.

The wooden ceiling of the tavan is of šašavac structure, and divided, following the roof structure, into four parts.  The outer band is not horizontal but sloping, with šašavci set at right-angles to the wooden moulded beam that separates the outer and centre sections.  The next section appears only along the side walls, and is divided by wooden beams into four longitudinal fields (north-south), two each to right and left.  The šašavci within these longitudinal fields are set at right-angles to the wooden beams.  The central section of the ceiling, divided from the rest by moulded wooden slats, serrated on the underside, takes the form of a rectangle with a hexagon inscribed within it touching it on four sides.  The radially-set šašavci run outwards from the central area in the form of a hexagon; those of the central section are set horizontally along the long side.

The outer section of the ceiling is broken by a dormer window.

There is one room on each side of the tavan(14); these rooms are not yet furnished.

The second-floor jazluk is divided from the tavan by a wall with two arched windows and a door.  Together with the first-floor jazluk, it constitutes what appears from the outside to be a single oriel.  The second-floor jazluk is more enclosed than that of the first floor, with a calmer, less mystical feeling(15) because of the differently-shaped windows.  It is furnished only with a U-shaped sećija along the walls and wooden seharas (chests with metal fittings, used for example for a girl’s trousseau) beneath the windows.

The glory of this room is the wooden ceiling, of šašavac construction, divided into four sections by moulded wooden slats, serrated on the underside.  The outer section, like that of the tavan, is not horizontal but sloping and rounded, with šašavci set parallel to the wooden slats.  The next two sections are rectangular, with the šašavci of the outer section set at right-angles to the slats and those of the inner section set parallel.  A relief wooden ellipse, decorated with geometric designs within and around the ellipse, is inscribed within the central rectangular section.

Until 1975, when they were donated to the Gazi Husrevbeg library in Sarajevo, there was a valuable collection of 157 documents and eighteen manuscripts in the Muslibegović house.  The house still contains a number of valuable vessels dating from the Ottoman period, a well-preserved old levha, a sabre and a copy of the Qur’an.

The mutvak or summer kitchen, with storeroom (measuring 4.30 x 7.5 m for the mutvak and 3.00 x 6.00 for the storeroom) stands alongside the eastern courtyard wall.  Both consist of a ground and first floor.

The mutvak and storeroom are stone-built, plastered on the outside and whitewashed inside. The exception is the ground-floor section of the mutvak, which is built of regular cut blocks remaining visible on both the exterior façades and the interior.  The shallow bossage at the corners of the mutvak and storeroom, made of regular cut blocks, is also left visible on the façade.  The exterior walls of the building are 45 cm thick and the wall separating the mutvak and storeroom is 50 cm thick.  There is a later partition wall in the room above the storeroom on the first floor, which is much thinner, with a thickness of only about 12 cm.

            Timber has been used for the staircase and the interfloor and roof structure, doors and windows.  The interfloor structure consists of substantial wooden beams over which the wooden flooring of the first floor is laid.  On the underside, wooden boards are set at right-angles between the beams.  The wooden gabled roof frame remains exposed on the upper floor.  There is no attic.

Regularly cut stone taken from nearby quarries is used for the arches of the ground floor and, cut into slabs, to clad the gabled roof.

The openings stand out in the whitewashed, plastered façades.  The arched ground-floor windows of the mutvak, on the western, entrance façade, are closed by glazed sliding partitions(16). There are two double, rectangular, six-paned windows on the first floor of the same façade, with no grid on the outside or relieving niche on the inside(17). The single wooden, arched door leading into the mutvak is in the north façade.

In the case of the storeroom, in addition to wooden double doors, the western, entrance façade has a single rectangular wooden double window with a grid on the outside.  The north side façade of the storeroom has two windows, one ground-floor and one first-floor, both double wooden windows with grids on the outside.

During restoration, in 2001, the mutvak and storeroom were turned into a small residential unit.  There is a study on the ground floor of the mutvak and a kitchen and dining room on the ground floor of the storeroom.  A U-shaped wooden staircase leads to the first floor, where there is a bedroom in the mutvak and a bathroom and second small bedroom in the storeroom. 

            The business courtyard of the residential complex lies to the west of the family courtyard.  The first gateway in the south wall of the complex, seen as one climbs along Osman Đikić street, leads into the business courtyard, which measures 8.70 x 12.00 m and is cobbled with pebbles.  During restoration, in 2000, three platforms at three levels were made in the eastern part of the business courtyard, laid with crazy paving.  Two of these are open to the sky, unlike the third which is set against the eastern courtyard wall. On the west wall, and on the edges of the platform by the south wall, greenery and flowers have been planted, mainly climbers. There is a fountain in the south wall.

            The entrance to the family courtyard from the business courtyard is in the east wall.

Within the business courtyard, there is an office building to the north, a kitchen and WC against the south wall, and a canopy roof supported by three wooden pillars by the east wall, which separates the two courtyards.

The office building is the old stables which, since it was destroyed during the 1992-1995 war, has been completely rebuilt in line with its original design.

The walls of this single-storey building, measuring 4.80 x 12.10 m, are of irregular stone blocks, which remain visible on both the outside and the inside.  The exterior walls are approx. 50 cm thick; there are no interior walls.

            Timber has been used for the staircase and the interfloor and roof structure, doors and windows.  The interfloor structure consists of substantial wooden beams over which the wooden flooring of the first floor is laid.  On the underside, wooden boards are set at right-angles between the beams.  The wooden gabled roof frame remains exposed on the upper floor.  There is no attic.

            Stone has been used to clad the gabled roof.

The openings on the ground floor of the building are on the south, entrance façade – three wooden doors and one small, square wooden window.  There are three windows in the south façade of the first floor and another two in the west façade.  These are double wooden windows with wooden shutters on the outside.  The windows in the west façade also have grids.

During restoration, in 2000, this building was turned into office premises, now used to house Aga Khan Trust for Culture Foundation and the World Monument Fund.

The ground floor of the building is used as a conference room, workshop or presentation area, as needed.  An L-shaped wooden staircase leads to the upper floor, where the Aga Khan Foundation's offices are located.


A number of household items used by the family in the past are kept in the Muslibegović house.  These include:

1. Qur’an.

            The manuscript of the Qur'an was made by Sami, a pupil of Hajji Hafiz Muhamed Ševkije.  It is written in minute naskh script.  The year when it was transcribed is damaged and illegible. The Qur’an measures 15 x 10 x 5.3 cm.  The page with Sura al-Fatiha is missing. Each page of the manuscript Qur’an is surrounded by a gold band, and the headings of the suras are in white on a gold ground.  Each place in the Qur’an where sajdah is performed is marked identically, but those for the juz(18) differ.  The Qur’an has a leather binding decorated with gilt tooling.  The back cover is extended into a flap that overlaps the front cover when the Qur’an is closed.  The Qur’an is kept in a specially-made leather bag with a cover. A ray-like design, the largest in the centre and four smaller ones in the corners, is tolled onto the back of the bag.  The sides of the bag are reinforced by a fabric strap enabling the bag to be carried over the shoulder.

2. Levha

            The levha has a simple wooden frame, and measures 30.5 x 23.5 cm.  It was written in ink on paper in 1274 AH (1855/56 CE), in thuluth and naskh script.  The text of the levha reveals that it is in fact the calligraphic diploma issued to student Salih Emin.  The signature is of two calligraphers: Mustaha Hilmi, a pupil of Hajrulah Halije, and Ali Riza.

3. Sabre.

            The sabre is 89 cm long.  The hilt (13 cm in length) is made of wood with applique metal decorations.  A cruciform metal cross-guard is inserted at the point where the hilt meets the blade, to protect the hand.  Plant motifs are embossed on the part of the blade near the hilt. Over a length of 9 cm. The sabre has a black leather scabbard fitted in two places with rings so that it can be hung from the clothing.  The year 1283 AH (1866 CE) is embossed in the leather between the two rings(19).

4. Textile items.

            Several varieties of textile items, such as headscarves, čevrmas (kerchiefs of fine fabric embroidered at the corners with gold or silver thread) and a shirt, are kept in the house.  These are mainly handmade, but some have been made using a sewing machine, with applique decorations, such as bands or ribbons forming a border.  They were made in the late 19th and early 20th century, mainly before World War II, though some items of simpler workmanship were probably made after World War II.  The textile items were probably made by women of the Muslibegović household.  They are items that would have been in everyday use, and are no different from similar items made in other houses in Bosnia and Herzegovina – they are typical items of women’s handwork dating from the period in question.

            According to the owner of the house, Mr. Tadžludin Muslibegović, the textile items were kept in a safe in a bank in western Europe from 1992-1995, which is now they survived.


            Headscarves: (20) 

  • square, with no svilenik(21), measuring 120 x 46 cm.  The ends of the headscarf have gold embroidery over a length of 13 cm.  The gold thread is embroidered as curvy lines with rounded fruits and leaves extending from both ends
  • square, with no svilenik, measuring 129 x 44 cm.  The edges of the headscarf are crocheted with gold thread.  The same thread is used to embroider a gold line along the edge, and for the basic motif of branchlets with leaves and fruits
  • square, with no svilenik, measuring 136 x 55 cm.  The headscarf has wavy borders, with a gold-thread embroidered teardrop motif following the line of the edge.  Bold, neatly embroidered motifs of petalled flowers extend from the teardrop motif towards the inner part of the headscarf.  The flowers are interlinked by branches
  • square, with no svilenik, measuring 57 x 36 cm.  Lacy fabric has been sewn onto border of one edge of the headscarf, and a gold border then crocheted onto the lace.  The other side of the headscarf has only a gold crocheted border.  A motif of wavy lines from which extend interlinked floral elements extends from the gold border towards the inner part of the headscarf
  • square piece of bez – fine cotton fabric – measuring 63 x 38 cm.  The ends are embroidered with wavy lines from which rounded fruits and leaves extend on both sides.  The workmanship of this is of poorer quality than the other headscarves.

A čevrma (22) is a wedding headscarf, a gift from the bride's house to that of the bridegroom.  It is made of bez.  It is folded in such a way that when it has been fully folded it looks like a rectangle composed of four smaller rectangles or two smaller squares.  The centre of the small rectangle or square is embroidered with gold thread.  Below this rectangle the rest of the fabric is folded to make a square.

  • the folded čevrma measures 28 x 28 cm.  The outer sides of the embroidered surface are crocheted with gold thread.  The central area of the four rectangles is embroidered with a motif of a branch with three roses
  • the folded čevrma measures 18.5 x 18.5 cm.  The outer edges of the two embroidered surfaces are wavy, and bordered with gold thread.  At the centre is a motif of a stem with two large leaves and a central stem with leaflets.  A small branchlet is embroidered on the outer corners of the čevrma
  • the folded čevrma measures 25.5 x 25.5 cm.  A motif of a branch with leaves is embroidered in the central part of the four rectangles. The rectangles are gathered at the centre by circular patches of red fabric
  • the folded čevrma measures 24 x 24 cm.  It was made recently, and is composed of just one outer embroidered surface.  Gold thread is used to embroidered a design of a branch with roses forming a circle.


            Made of bez fabric, of simple workmanship.  The front and back are composed of rectangular pieces of fabric joined by inserts at the sides to give the shirt width.  The opening for the head at front of the shirt is merely a triangular-cut piece of fabric.  The arms are also made without great tailoring skill, consisting of square pieces of fabric fitted to the upper part of the shirt.  The lower part of the sleeves has an extra piece of fabric sewn in to give width.  The front of the shirt is adorned with gold thread embroidered in the form of a narrow vertical line composed from two finer lines from which a dense motif of leaves extends on both sides.  The same design, again in gold thread, is used to decorate part of the sleeves from the cuff upwards.


            Metalwork items

            The lids of seven metal vessels are kept in the house. According to the owner, the vessels themselves disappeared between 1992 and 1995.  The lids are conical in shape, and are made of cast copper that was then embossed.  They are 19 cm in diameter and 13 cm in height.  The design of the lids consists of three circular sections separated by narrower, plain sections.  The lower section consists of a band decorated with triangular motifs.  The central section is the widest, and is composed of circular motifs, three to each group, with plant motifs running through the circles.  The third section of the lid is plain, and is flat at the top, to which a handle is attached, in the form of a ray-like element from which the circular handle emerges.  The lids are typical artisanal products of the kind often to be found in houses in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in museums.


3. Legal status to date

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities in Sarajevo no. 507/53 dated 23 June 1953, the Muslibegović house in Brankovac, Mostar, is protected as a cultural monument.

By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BiH, Sarajevo, no. 02-652-3, dated 18 April 1962, the Muslibegović house was entered in the Register of immovable cultural monuments.

The Regional Plan for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 lists the Muslibegović house as a Category II monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

Other than the installation of modern sanitary fittings by the owner of the building, without the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority, during 1984 and 1988, no conservation or restoration works have been carried out on the Muslibegović house.

            During the 1992-1995 war the building suffered minor damage.

            Taking into consideration the importance and value of the complex, AKFC and WMF have place the Muslibegović residential complex on their list of priorities for renovation, conservation and rehabilitation.  In 2000, under their auspices, work began on the renovation of the complex, lasting without interruption until 2002.  During this time the following works were carried out on the residential complex:


1. family house

  • repairs to war damage
  • replacement of all windows(23) and renovation (plastering) of façade (in 2001)
  • making new musanderas to the model of the originals to replace those damaged or destroyed
  • making good damaged ceilings
  • replacement of sanitary fittings
  • redesign of attic (originally, only the central part of the attic was intended for everyday residential purposes; it has now been adapted so that the whole of it is used as a flat)
  • replacement of the entrance to the hajat of the house (moving the wooden door inwards and opening up the stone arch – during 2001)
  • installation of air conditioning (during 2001)

2. mutvak and storeroom

  • transformation of the mutvak and storeroom into a small residential unit for accommodating guests and staff of the AKTC Foundation,
  • restoration of the ground-floor windows of the mutvak (revealing concealed stone arches)
  • piercing new windows at first-floor level in the mutvak and storeroom, and realigning the interior staircase as a result of the change of use (during summer 2001)

3. business courtyard area

  • reconstruction of the stables in the business courtyard and transformation of the building into business premises, currently being used as the office of the AKTC Historic Cities Support Programme and WMF offices,
  • piercing new windows in the stables as a result of the new use of the building,
  • new design of the business courtyard as regards paving and building platforms,
  • transformation of a small ancillary building in the business courtyard into a kitchen and WC,
  • building a canopy roof linking the kitchen and the building in the business courtyard.

Of major importance, in relation to the renovation, conservation and restoration of the Muslibegović complex, is the fact that it is an example of sustainable heritage protection. The building has become the temporary residence of all the consultants working on the project in Mostar, on the basis of a contract entered into with the owner of the complex.  The contract provides for part of the revenue deriving from the use of the building by the contractor (rent) to be used for repairs and routine maintenance.


5. Current condition of the property

The residential complex of the Muslibegović family is in extremely good condition.  Works on the redesign of the attic area and making good the basement are still under way.

The AKTC Foundation is using the mutvak and storeroom, by agreement with the owner, to accommodate its staff, and the former stables are being used as the Foundation's offices.




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.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C.v. details

D. Clarity

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

D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

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

G. Authenticity

G.v. location and setting

I. Completeness

I.iii. completeness

I.iv. Undamaged condition


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Photodocumentation;

o        Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the architectural ensemble of the residential complex of the Muslibegović family in Mostar as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1982.    Zejnil Fajić, Tabelarni pregled hidžretskih godina preračunatih u godine nove ere (Table of hijra years calculated as years CE) Sarajevo, 1982.


1989.    Amir Pašić, Prilog proučavanja islamskog stambenog graditeljstva u Jugoslaviji na primjeru Mostara, koliko je stara stambena arhitektura Mostara autohtona pojava (Contribution to the study of Islamic residential architecture in Yugoslavia – the example of Mostar, the extent to which the old residential architecture of Mostar is an indigenous phenomenon), doctoral dissertation, Zagreb, 1989.


1990.    Hivzija Hasandedić, Muslimanska baština u istočnoj Hercegovini (The Muslim heritage in eastern Herzegovina), El Kalem, Sarajevo, 1990.


1994.     Amir Pašić, Islamic architecture in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Istanbul, 1994.


Documentation from AKTC on the renovation of the  Muslibegović family residential complex: Internet source: http://www.kultur.gov.tr/portal/kultur_en.asp?belgeno=5757

(This section was written with the assistance of the book “The Turkish House Tradition and Safranbolu Houses” by Reha Günay, published with the support of the Ministry of Culture.)


NOTE: Cite book as source Amra Hadimuhamedović


(1)  The Brankovac mahala, which originated in the early 17th century from the merger of several smaller mahalas, has about 150 housing units and several examples of traditional residential architecture.

(2)  Since the building was erected it has remained in the hands of the Muslibegović family, who also owned another, smaller residential complex and a mosque, both in the immediate vicinity of the present-day family complex, at the intersection of Osman Đikić and Šarić streets.  Neither of these buildings has survived.

(3)  The dates of the permit differ depending on the source quoted.  The AKTC publication on the Muslibegović complex (AKTC/WMF Mostar Project – Muslibegovica complex) gives the date on which the permit was issued as 8 April 1862.  In an article published in the journal Sloboda, issue no. 34, 12 August 1968, Ihsan Mutevelić gives the date of the permit as 26 May 1871.

(4)    Islamic architecture in Bosnia and Hercegovina, Istanbul, 1994.

(5)    In all the rooms of the house, the wooden sećija has been replaced by a new one to the same design.  The cushions and crochet'd decorations on the sećija are original in some of the rooms and replacements in others.

(6)  The musandera, built-in as was customary along the entrance wall, consists of the integral door to the room, divided from the room by an arched lintel, shelves, a dušekluk for storing bedlinen when not in use, a hamamdžik or washroom, and a storage area with doors to the front of the musandera, below the dušekluk. The only alteration has been to fit a modern shower and hand-basin within the hamamdžik. The old stone hamamdžik, which is broken into three parts, is on display in the mutvak.

(7)  The reason for replacing the musandera was that the old one was in a state of dilapidation, and the fact that the present owner, once the tenants who had been compulsorily moved in after World War II,  wanted to renovate the room completely.

(8)  The musandera consists of the integral door to the room, divided from the room by an arched lintel, a between-doors space with shelves, a dušekluk and a storage area with doors on the front of the musandera below the between-doors space and the dušekluk.

(9)  Šašavci are parts made of pine, beech or juniper wood, 2.5-4 cm thick, 10-15 cm wide, and 70-100 cm long, depending on the spaces between the beams.  They are wedged into grooves cut into the beams, tightly packed against each other so that all that is visible from below is the arka, or outer thick side of each šašavac. They take part of the tensioning of the stress beam.

(10) The musandera consists of the integral door to the room, divided from the room by an arched lintel, shelves, a dušekluk, a between-doors space and a storage area with doors to the front to the musander below the between-doors space and the dušekluk.

(11) During the Austro-Hungarian period the Governor of Herzegovina stayed in the Muslibegović house, using this room for his own needs. Failure to attend properly to the fire in the fireplace led to the room itself catching fire; the musandera was burned down and the ceiling badly damaged.

(12) The musandera consists of the integral door to the door, divided from the room by an arched lintel, a between-doors space, a dušekluk and a storage area with doors to the front of musandera below the betwee-doors space and the dušekluk.

(13) According to the present owner of the house, all the rooms once had stone fireplaces, which were replaced during the Austro-Hungarian period by more modern built-in stoves.  During the reconstruction of the house in 2000 this fireplace was discovered in the attic and returned to its original position.  The built-in earthenware stoves were not restored.

(14) The tavan originally extended to both right and left, creating a hall leading to rooms to the south and north, which had no natural light because of the roof structure, but were indirectly lit from the hall.  During the 2000 restoration the arrangement of the walls and side rooms was altered.

(15) The shaping of space and the composition of the elements used and of the colours create the distinct mystical atmosphere of the first-floor jazluk.

(16) Judging from photographs of the building prior to 1992, the arched stone openings were walled up (when this was done is not known)  so that there was only a single door on the ground floor of the mutvak and a single window on the first floor.  During the restoration, the arched openings were discovered and left exposed, since they echo the entrance facade of the house.

(17) Although there was originally only one window, another two were pierced to suit the new use of the building.

(18) Thirtieth part of the Qur'an

(19) Reading of the text and year on the Qur'an, levha and sabre by Hazim Numinagić

(20) The ittems described are merely the most typical examples of headscarves, given the large number of these that are to be found in various institutions for the protection of material items (primarily museums), but also because there are headscarves to be found in other private houses.

(21) Extremely fine, almost see-through fabric. Often used as the material for gold thread embroider.  As a rule, this fabric would be more densely woven in places, creating vertical lines in the fabric at those points.  The fabric known as bez (fine fabrics of various subvarieties) often differs in quality, some types include a higher proportion of silk thread, and some of cotton).

(22) There are a total of 29 čevrmas in the Muslibegović house, but only the most typical examples are described here, given that there are others in museums and private collections.

(23) The new windows differ from those that were in place when work began in the arrangement of the inside windows and in colour.  The previous windows had single panes inside other than those on the ground floor, which were divided into two.  The woodwork was painted green.

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