Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Sava (Atik) mosque, the site and remains of 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 12 July 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Sava (Atik) mosque in Brčko is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot nos. 33/1 and 33/2 (old survey), cadastral municipality Brčko 1,  Brčko District, 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 Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no. 2/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




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

            The Government of Brčko District shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation of the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            The following protection measures are hereby stipulated for the site defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision:

Ÿ         all works are prohibited other than rehabilitation works with the approval of the authority responsible for regional planning in Brčko District and under the expert supervision of the relevant heritage protection authority,

Ÿ         no new buildings may be erected on adjoining plots the size, appearance or other features of which could jeopardize the National Monument,

Ÿ         the Government of Brčko District shall be responsible for drawing up a rehabilitation project for the National Monument.  The following conditions shall be fulfilled in the rehabilitation of the National Monument:

1.       the architectural ensemble of the Atik (old) mosque shall be rehabilitated on its original site

2.       the rehabilitation shall retain the original proportions and appearance of the building, with the identical horizontal and vertical dimensions, based on documentation on its original appearance, with the possible use of modern materials as similar as possible to the original (use the study drawn up on the basis of the photogrammetric survey of Brčko in 1985 to ascertain the vertical and horizontal dimensions)

3.       the pitched hipped roof covering the blind dome shall be covered with flat plain tiles; all doors and windows to be of wood; the minaret railing shall be of wrought iron; the bars on the windows shall be of wrought iron; all the window frames and stair treads shall be of stone; all the interior stairways shall be wooden, as shall the mahfil and mimber; the mihrab shall be made of stone;

4.       the ground level of the entrance to the building shall be adjusted to the present level of Konačko brdo street, at least 30 cm above the high water level over the past 100 years;

5.       the surface layers of soil shall be dug out in order to uncover the original foundation walls of the mosque

6.       all the components and fragments found on the site of the Atik mosque or elsewhere, including sizeable pieces of the walls and other parts of the mosque, shall be recorded, studied, conserved and rebuilt into the reconstructed building wherever possible

7.       fragments that are too badly damaged to be built in shall be conserved appropriately and presented within the architectural ensemble

8.       prior to the start of works on the rehabilitation of the building, archaeological excavations shall be carried out in order to find any material remains of the older harem, original mosque complex (mosque with shops) and possible older strata

9.       the archaeological excavations shall under no circumstances be permitted to delay the issuing of permission for the rehabilitation nor to delay or call into question the rehabilitation of the building

10.   if the archaeological excavations indicate significant findings of older strata in the mosque ensemble, all the finds shall be presented as subsequently to be determined by the Commission.




            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 Brčko District, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of Brčko, the authority responsible for regional planning in Brčko District and the heritage protection authority of Brčko District 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 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.


Broj: 07.2-02-386/03-7

7. jula 2004. godine



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.

           On 10 February 2003 the Commission received a petition from the Centre for Islamic Architecture Sarajevo for the Atik mosque in Brčko.

            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 land registry entry)

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


            Brčko    44.87°N     18.81°E

            Brčko is a town in the Sava valley, on the confluence of the river Brka with the Sava, in the north-eastern, peri-Pannonian region of Bosnia and Herzegovina

            The Sava or Atik mosque is in the centre of the town, in the architectural ensemble of Konačko brdo, Braće Ćuskić street no 20.  It stands very close to the confluence of the river Brka with the Sava, on the right of the road leading from the town to the bridge over the Sava leading to the Republic of Croatia.  It was built on a site designated as c.p. nos. 33/1 and 33/2, c.m. Brčko 1, owned by the Majlis (Council) of the Islamic Community in Brčko, Brčko District BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            Brčko has been inhabited without break since prehistoric times.  This is corroborated by the discovery of the remains of Roman tombstones and items made of glass paste site close to the Atik mosque. These finds indicate that human settlements existed as early as the 2nd century CE. However, no scientific analysis has ever been carried out, as a result of which it is almost impossible to obtain any data on Brčko prior to the 16th century.

            The earliest reference to Brčko as a toponym dates, according to one source, to 1548 (Blago na putevima Jugoslavije, 1983, pp. 274), and according to another source, to 1620, in the description of one of the Bosnian pashaluks(1). The development of Brčko was particularly intensive in the period between 1620 and 1716. Two public baths, a tower, a mosque and several residential buildings date from that period. (Hadžimuhamedović,1989). 

            Brčko developed into five mahalas or residential quarters: Atik, Džedid, Varoš, Karanfil and Kolobara.  It has not been possible to determine the exact date when the mosque was built on the site of the oldest Atik mosque, although it is known to have been in existence prior to 1651. Three further mosques were later built, the Džedid or new mosque, the Hadžipaša mosque and the Hadžidizdar mosque; this latter was demolished after World War II. The very name Atik, meaning «old» in Turkish, indicates that this was the oldest mosque in Brčko. Certain data indicate that it was erected as early as 1600.(Kreševljaković, 1951).  It was originally built of timber, and was enlarged as time passed and the number of worshippers in the town increased.  Right by the mosque was a burial ground which was covered over when the Brčko fruit and vegetable market was built.  The mosque and shops surrounding it to the north-west and north-east are shown on the Austrian geodetic survey of 1882.  There was a building on the southern part of the plot, the purpose of which is not known, but which could have been a mekteb (Islamic primary school).  As a result of successive resurfacing of the roads alongside the mosque, the level of the roads themselves and of surrounding buildings is higher than previously, and the mosque appears to be «sunk» into the ground.

            The mosque was completely destroyed on 17 July 1992.


2. Description of the property

            The Sava or Atik mosque belonged to the type of single-space mosque with a hipped roof.  In certain features, primarily its spatial concept and use of building materials, it was very similar to the Atik mosque in  Bijeljina and the Čaršija mosque in Tuzla.

            The exterior dimensions of the mosque as measured from the cadastral plan were 11.50 m x 16.00 m.  There was a portico measuring 11.50 x 4.50 m on the north-west side of the building.  The central prayer space was square, measuring 11.50 x 11.50 m.

            The mosque was entirely built using a combination of Austrian-type bricks and stone. The walls were at least 100 cm thick.  During the most recent interventions, in 1987, the walls were plastered on both sides with lime cement mortar.  The entrance portico consisted of three square pillars joined by arches.  The sides were also linked to the central part of the building by a single arch on each side, the same width as the central arch of the portico.  The pillars and arches of the portico were built of Austrian-type bricks and stone, like the walls of the central part of the building.  There were three small domes over the portico, which were plastered and whitewashed, with no painted decoration or calligraphic inscriptions.  The type of construction of the domes is not known(2).

            The central prayer space occupied an area of about 81 sq.m.  The mosque had a mahfil reached by a stairway where, at a height of about 50 cm, was a small landing leading into the minaret.  The mahfil was of reinforced concrete and rested on the exterior walls of the building and two reinforced concrete columns.  The mahfil balustrade was of wood, with machine-turned parts which were then coated in clear lacquer.

            The mihrab niche was set back into the exterior wall of the building, projecting out from the wall surface by about 20 cm.  There were seven horizontal rows of stalactite decorations in the upper part.

            The mimber was made of durable material, probably stone.  The arch above the entrance to the mimber was similar in proportions to the entrance arch of the mosque portico.

            The mosque also had a ćurs, which was in the north-east corner of the building.  This, like the mimber, was of durable material, plastered on the exterior.  The upper surface was made of white marble.

            A particular feature of this mosque was that, like the White Mosque in  Brčko, it had a kind of basement area below the central prayer space, designed to prevent underground water from penetrating into the building.  The structural system of this considerable span probably originally consisted of a set of pillars and beams running in both directions(3).  This was later replaced by a concrete structure(4).

            The facade of the mosque was divided horizontally by its rows of windows and its string courses.  The first string course was midway up the walls, and the second beneath the eaves.

Each facade had two rows of windows.  A photograph of the mosque taken from the Sava bridge shows that there were three windows in each row on the north-east facade, but only two upper windows on the south-east side.  The lower windows on this side are not visible because tall shrubs conceal them from view.  It may be assumed that the south-west side was symmetrical like the north-east side.  The north-west or entrance facade had two upper and two lower windows.  The windows were rectangular, terminating in arches.  Their size is not known.  The exterior of the windows bore decorations executed in plaster.

            The minaret of the mosque had two šerefe or balconies and was built of Austrian-type brick, with the exterior plastered and painted.  The lower part of the minaret was square and the upper part octagonal in section.  The minaret had several rows of decorations, the first of which was right beneath the roof.  The second row was below the šerefe, and the third midway along the barrel of the minaret.  The final row was at eaves level and was a continuation of the roof cornice.  All these decorations were executed in plaster and painted in a different colour (green, in this case) from the basic colour of the facade. The minaret stairway was lit by eight elongated arched windows.  The minaret balustrade was of wrought iron.

            There was a harem around the mosque, part of which was exhumed when the market was built in Brčko. When the road along the Sava river was built in 1990, it could be seen that the harem had several strata and a large number of very old, buried nišan tombstones. The mosque had a well, 6-7 metres deep, in the courtyard, which was used for taking abdest (ritual ablutions).


3. Legal status to date

            The mosque is not on the Provisional List of National Monuments, nor had it been placed under protection by any previous ruling.

            The Centre for Islamic Architecture of Bih submitted a petition for the mosque:       

295       08.2-6-386/03  Petition 10.2.2003 Atik mosque (Sava mosqie) in Brčko


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

            The most recent restoration works on the mosque were carried out in 1985 and 1987 without a design project or the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority.  The works were approved by the Municipal Institute for Town Planning, Geodetic and Property Affairs, Brčko, no. 06 - 364 – 457, dated 2 April 1987.  The following works were carried out on this occasion:

Ÿ         the old tiles were replaced by new ones

Ÿ         the old plaster was stripped from the facades, which were then replastered

Ÿ         the entrance area of the building was made good

Ÿ         the sheet metal on the mosque and minaret was replaced

            Planning permission for these works was issued under no. 06 – 364 – 457, dated 20 May 1987.


5. Current condition of the property

            The mosque was completely destroyed on 17 July 1992.  The site on which it stood was surrounded on all sides by a wire fence and grassed over.   There are no visible outward signs that might indicate a building, the mosque, stood there, apart from a heap that appears to be soil and parts of a concrete structure.  There is a garbage container right beside the site.

            According to members of the Council of the Islamic Community of Brčko, most of the building material was taken away to an unknown destination.  Presumably part of it was taken to Fazanerija and dumped.  Since this was dilapidated and crumbling building material, most of it has probably been destroyed.

            A report by Andreas Riedlmayer exhibited to the Hague Tribunal during expert testimony in the trial of the former President of SRY Slobodan Milošević, includes information to the effect that the remains of the mosque were covered by the bodies of Bosniacs who had been killed and buried in a mass grave close to Brčko.

            This grave was examined by an investigative team from the Office of the Prosecutor in The Hague.



            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

E.  Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value


            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 monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1961     Brčko i okolina (Brčko and Environs), 1961


1951.    Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Prilozi povijesti bosanskih gradova pod turskom upravom (Contributions to the history of Bosnian towns under Turkish rule), 1951


1983.    Decision on the implementation of the town plan for Brčko Municipality, Official Gazette of Brčko Municipality, Brčko, 1983


1985.    Regional plan for Brčko Municipality, current state of regional planning, cultural, historical and natural heritage, Institute for architecture, town planning and regional planning of the Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo, Sarajevo, 1985,


1985.    Brčko u radničkom pokretu i NOB (Brčko in the Worker's Movement and War of National Liberation), 1985.


1987.    Decision on implementation of the regional plan for Brčko Municipality, Official Gazette of Brčko Municipality, Brčko 1987.


1996.    Suljkić, Hifzija, (HIKMET(IX)), «Spomenici islamske kulture u Brčkom» (Islamic cultural monuments in Brčko), Naša Baština, no. 3-4, pp. 99 – 100),


1996.    Jakobović, Zlatko, Kroz brčansku posavinu (Through the Brčko Sava valley), publ. 1996.


1989.    Hadžimuhamedović, Amra, «Struktura historijske gradske jezgre Brčkog» (Structure of the Historic Urban Centre of Brčko), seminar paper, post-graduate study Development of Architecture and Settlement, Faculty of Architecture, Belgrade, May 1989


2000.    Mahić, Atah, archive material on Brčko


(1)The description of the settlement related to the ferry on the river Sava and inhabitants of the settlements, who were mainly ferrymen.

(2)Statement by the imam of the mosque in Brčko, Bahrija ef. Smajić, who held the post in the Atik mosque until 1992.

(3)The craftsman who repaired the floors in the Sava mosque saw «an open space beneath the floor, so that the floor was on masonry pillars over which massive beams were set, over which in turn the floor was laid».

(4)A statement made by one of the oldest members of the congregation includes the detail that the space between the floor level of the ground floor and the basement was as much as 3 metres in height.  This area had windows with iron bars serving to ventilate the basement.

Sava (Atik) mosque in BrčkoThe site of the Sava mosque in BrčkoThe site of the Atik mosque, an old photo and photo from 2003Brčko with Atik mosque
Sava(Atik) mosque   

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