Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Ferhadija 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 2 to 8 November 2004 the Commission adopted a






The architectural ensemble of the Ferhadija Mosque (Ferhad beg Mosque) with Harem in Sarajevo is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1198 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. nos 4, 56 and 48 (old survey), Land Register entry no. XXXVI/77, cadastral municipality Sarajevo, property of the Islamic Religious Community in Sarajevo, City of Sarajevo, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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




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

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




To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument on the site defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision, Protection Zone I and the following protection measures are hereby stipulated:

  • all works are prohibited other than routine maintenance works 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),
  • visible cracks on the dome and walls of the mosque shall be repaired,
  • the wall decorations in the Ferhad-beg mosque shall be conserved and subject to expert repairs, and proposed measures for their restoration shall be drawn up,
  • all interventions and methods used must be identifiable and respect all the typological and architectural characteristics of the building,
  • the maintenance of the building shall be performed under the supervision of the heritage protection authority,
  • the burial ground and individual tombstones shall be conserved, repaired and made good,
  • the building shall be floodlit in line with an appropriate project,
  • the existing tall vegetation shall mandatorily be preserved.


A protective strip is hereby stipulated, consisting of the area bordered by cadastral plotsnos. 1184, 1194, 1196, 1197, 1200 and Vladislav Skarić street and the first row of buildings in Ferhadija street opposite the mosque and the plots bordering the siteof  the national monument defined in Clause I para. 2 of this Decision.  In this strip the following are hereby stipulated:

  • the construction of new buildings and the extension of existing ones are prohibited,
  • the use of the building may not be contrary to the religious meaning of the National Monument,
  • a study for the town-planning treatment of Ferhadija and Skarić streets alongside the National Monument shall be drawn up – the number of outdoor cafés around the building shall be reduced, and they shall be arranged in such a way as not to disrupt the view of the National Monument.




            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 thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to 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 Article V para. 4 of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.




On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 545.




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. 07.1-02-204/04-3

4 November 2004



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


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 to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the Ferhadija Mosque in Sarajevo to the Provisional List of National Monuments, under No. 545.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.




In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

  • Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property
  • Details of legal protection of the property to date
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


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


1. Details of the historic urban area



The architectural ensemble of the Ferhadija Mosque is located to the west of the Sarajevo čaršija [old crafts and trade centre], at the junction of Ferhadija and Vladislav Skarić streets, very close to the Hotel Europe, somewhat lower [in relation to the river Miljacka/the fall of the valley] than the famous Husref-begt bezistan [covered market, suq] and Tašlihan. The building stands on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1198 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. nos 4, 56 and 48 (old survey), Land Register entry no. XXXVI/77, cadastral municipality Sarajevo, property of the Islamic Religious Community in Sarajevo.


Historical information

In 969 AH (1561/62 CE), Ferhad beg Vuković-Desisalić built his mosque, around which a separate mahala later came into being, known as Ferhadija after its founder. The date when the mosque was built can be seen on the chronogram above the portal. In his travelogue Evliya Çelebi says: “Down in the town stands the beautiful Ferhad-beg Mosque, which is clad with lead. Ferhad-beg Vuković-Desisalić, as far as is now known, was the first Sandžak-beg of Klis (1556-57), then Sandžak-beg of Pakrac 1557-1566 and Sandžak-beg of Bosnia from April 1568 until his death, somewhat before June 1568. (Çelebi, 1996, page 106).

It was built at a time when Ottoman architecture in Istanbul was reaching its peak (from around 1560-70), so that it reflects the full richness of the style of building typical of such edifices in BiH.

            Ferhad-beg, the founder of the mosque, whose name is also preserved in the chronogram above the entrance portal of the mosque, is assumed to be the same as the historical figure of the Bosnian Sandžak-beg Ferhad-beg Vuković, who originated from the prominent mediaeval Vuković-Desisalić family (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, page 60). He was a major statesman of the Ottoman Empire, and between spring 1568 and probably right up to 1572, he was also Sandžak-beg of the Bosnian Sandžak. He was the founder of the mosques bearing the same name in Tešanj and Žepče. His brother Ivan, a vojvoda [duke, dux], lived in Sarajevo, and it was in his house, in April 1568, that the artist Todor Vuković from Main near Budva painted a picture of the Madonna and Child, on which he wrote: “painted in the time of Bosnian Sandžak Ferhad-beg Vuković-Desisalić” (material from the Institute for the Preservation of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH).

According to Shaikh Sejfudin Kemura, Ferhad-beg left a number of properties in the Sarajevo streets of Halači and Bravadžiluk to provide for the maintenance of the mosque and his other foundations.  These properties were burned down in the 1697 fire, and responsibility for the maintenance of the mosque and its officials was taken on by other persons who endowed their real property and cash (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 60).

There have been no major repairs to the mosque. Its painted decorations dating from 1762 were repainted in 1878. The lead removed from the mosque in 1917 was replaced with galvanized metal sheets.

Previously, the building also had its own mekteb (Islamic primary school), imaret (soup kitchen), and šadrvan fountain, all of which were burnt down in 1879 and 1897.

The mekteb of the founder of the mosque stood within the ensemble, to the east of the courtyard; it probably burned in the fire that swept the city in 1697. Another building was erected for the same purpose after this by Mehmed-beg Dženetić, but this too also burned down in 1879. For a time this mekteb housed a muallim [teacher] and the famous chronicler Bašeskija (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 412). According to Çelebi, there were ten Daru’l-hadithi (schools for the study of hadith, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) in Sarajevo. Professors of the Islamic tradition taught free of charge in the Careva, Ferhadija, Husrevija, Kodža Ali-pasha and Isa-beg mosques (Çelebi, 1996, p. 110). According to M. Bećirbegović’s tabular summary of mektebs in Sarajevo, there was a mekteb founded by Ferhad-beg in 1562 in the Ferhad-beg mahala in Sarajevo (Bećirbegović, 1974, p. 272).

There is also information that Ferhad-beg built an imaret (soup kitchen) near the mosque. The only known reference to this imaret is in Evliya Çelebi’s travelogue, which says that there were seven buildings of this type in Sarajevo, and that one of them was the property of Kodža Ferhad-beg (Çelebi 1996, p. 118). This building was also burned down in the fire of 1697, and was not rebuilt. A substantial stone drinking fountain is also known to have stood outside the mosque courtyard; this was demolished in 1892. The fountain was supplied with water from the Gazi Husref-beg water mains pipes  (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 64).

Now all that survives are the mosque and small graveyard surrounding it.


2. Description of the architectural ensemble

The architectural ensemble consists of the Ferhadija mosque with šadrvan fountain and harem.

Ferhadija mosque

More domed mosques were built in Sarajevo than in any other city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Seven of these have survived: the Careva, Gazi Husref-beg, Čekrekčijina, Baščaršija, Logavina, Ferhadija and Ali-pasha mosques.

The Ferhadija mosque was built in 969 (1561/62). An inscription relates that it was built by Ferhad-beg (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 59).

This inscription was incised on a stone plaque (57x122 cm) in Arabic and mounted over the main entrance to the mosque. The inscription, in ornate jali script, is set in four square panels bordered with flower decorations. The inscription reads as follows:

            “Ferhad beg erected this edifice,

            A meeting place of ascetics, an abode for believers.

            God inspired us with its chronistich:

            For the love of God, ruler of the worlds” (969)

The year in the inscription is given only in abjad, but adding the numeric values of the last semi-couplet of the inscription gives the year 969, or 1561/62 CE (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 413).

According to Andrejević (Andrejević, 1984), ten mosques stand out from all the mosques classified architecturally and typologically as single-space domed mosques.  These are the Aladža Mosque in Foča, as the most interesting and representative example, the Karadjozbeg Mosque in Mostar, the Ali-pasha and Ferhadija Mosques in Sarajevo, the Hajji-Alija or Šišman Ibrahim-pasha Mosque in Počitelj, the Hajdar-kadi Mosque in Bitolj, the Pljevlje Mosque, the Čajniče Mosque, the mosque in Saraj in Treska, the Sinan-beg Mosque in Čajniče and the Kalaun Jusuf-pasha (Kuršumlija) Mosque in Maglaj. In addition to the fact that all these mosques were built by men who originated from this part of the world, another feature is the absolute clarity and strict regularity of the architectural treatment, and the carefully chosen proportions of the buildings, both in ground plan and elevation. In the composition of space, harmonious proportioning of all parts and simplicity of treatment are emphasized: a cube and a hemisphere with a fairly tall drum enclose the entire interior prayer space, and interesting contrasts are even more conspicuous in the outside proportions, achieved by the tall, slender minaret in comparison with the lower, compact, enclosed cube on the one hand and the light, open portico on the other (Andrijević, 1984, p. 47).

            In the manner in which the main architectural parts are proportioned, this building reflects the full maturity of the Ottoman Turkish style of building. It ranks among the monumental buildings of this type in Sarajevo.

The Ferhadija mosque is a domed mosque with a portico roofed with smaller domes, and slender built-on minaret.

On the entrance side, a portico with sofas, roofed with three small domes, extends along the full width of the outside wall. All three small domes are at the same level, with a height up to the alem [finial) of approx. 9.0m(1). The stone sofas on either side of the mosque door are 0.58 m in height and measure approx. 5.30 x 4.30 m. The sofas are roofed by three small domes supported by four massive stone columns with a diameter of approx. 0.52 m. The columns have capitals with stone decoration in the form of an original Turkish frieze of triangular shapes (Andrejević, 1984, p. 75). The columns are reinforced below the capitals by copper rings, and copper rings are also mounted above the circular bases of the columns, which stood on square pedestals.  The bases of all the columns were composed by alternating tori and trochili, and the transition from the square pedestal to the circular base is in the form of reversed stalactites.  The columns are interlinked, and also joined to the front mosque wall, by pointed stone arches with horizontal steel ties, composing three units.  Above them, the transition to the three equal-sized domes with low, octagonal drums is effected via plain, undecorated pendentives.  In the central section of the portico, the transition between the pendentives and the dome is resolved by means of a moulded cornice with two rows of decoration.  The lower row consists of small blind arcades with pointed arches, projecting outwards slightly from the face of the cornice, and the upper consists of a row of stalactite decorations.          

The ground plan of the building is roughly square, measuring 10.90 x 11.20 m. The solid walls are of cut stone, whitewashed on the inside, approx. 1.10 m thick, from which the transition into the dome is via trompes and a drum.  Unequally-sized cut blocks of limestone, not finely dressed, were used to build the mosque, no doubt because the outside was plastered; this was removed in the course of interventions in the mid 1960s.  The removal of the plaster revealed the presence of bricks on the arched window lintels.  Tufa was used to build the minaret and in the portico (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 60). The dome, the smaller domes, the interior arches, the pendentives and the arches above windows (apart from the windows at ground-floor level) were built of Turkish brick – tugla.

All the inside wall surfaces of the mosque were plastered and painted, and certain elements and areas were given painted decorations.

All the volumes of the exterior of the mosque terminate in moulded stone cornices at the points where the roof cladding projects outwards beyond the vertical wall face.  All the domes, together with the spire of the minaret, are clad with sheet lead.

The central space of the mosque is roofed by a dome, with its crown at a height of approx. 16.50 m above floor level; its height on the outside, up to the alem, is approx. 16.90 m. The dome, which is made of Turkish tugla brick, is approx. 0.40 m. thick.  The diameter of the dome is 10.83 m, and rests on the drum, which is octagonal on the outside and cylindrical on the inside. The drum is approx. 0.80 m thick, and its height on the outside, up to the cornice, is approx. 1.50 m.  There is a window on each side of the drum.  The drum is reinforced at the corners by pilasters which project outwards from the outer wall face of the drum by approx. 0.40 m.

The transition from the square ground plan of the central area into the circular drum is effected by means of corner stalactites, on which the central section  of semi-calotte trompes with slightly pointed are supported. In all four corners of the mosque, starting at a height of approx. 5.55 m, corner stalactites were introduced (stone consoles decorated with stalactites), consisting of seven stepped rows narrowing towards the top. The top of these small consoles is at a height of approx. 7.55 m above floor level. Above the stalactites are trompes divided into eleven sections with decorations which resemble Asian and North African Islamic patterns. The trompes are surrounded by prominently moulded pointed arches. Where these meet the wall are two rows of stalactites, also decorated. These arches are linked to other pointed arches, slightly emphasized by projecting outwards from the wall face, which had a decorative role. Level with the lower edge of the arches and the base of the trompes is a decorative cornice in the form of a frieze of blind arcades with pointed arches, accentuated by a red outline.  Two moulded string courses can be seen on the drum. The first, in the form of a circular stone ring, is at the base of the drum, and the second forms the line of transition from the vertical sides of the drum to the curved shape of the dome.  The front of the first string course is painted in polychrome, with alternating motifs of red and white arrowheads.

            The fourteen-sided minaret has a diameter of approx. 2.00 m, and was built against the right-hand outside wall.  The entrance to the minaret is in the right-hand corner of the prayer space, beneath the mahfil.  The base of the minaret is cuboid, with the square footprint measuring 3.09 x 3.09 m. The transition from the square base to the shaft of the minaret is effected in the form of a trapezoid prism with a shallow moulded stringcourse.  The fourteen-sided shaft of the minaret is slightly tapering.  The point where the shaft and the šerefe (balcony) meet is in the form of finely dressed stone giving the impression of a coupe.  The šerefe balustrade was of plain stone slabs with prominent moulded stone cornices top and bottom.  The barrel below the spire ends in a frieze of blind arcades with pointed arches.  The minaret is topped by an alem (finial) made of lead, with four equal-sized orbs.  The alem itself is topped by a japrak (leaf mofit).  The minaret is built of tufa.

            The inside of the mosque is lit by means of 27 simply shaped windows, five each on the side and mihrab walls, three on the entrance wall, and one on each side of the octagonal drum.  The windows on the side and mihrab walls are arranged on three levels – two each at the first and second levels and one, set centrally in the wall face, at the third level.  The windows on the entrance wall are set on two levels – two at the first and one at the third level.

            All the lower-level windows are larger in size, with rectangular stone frames the lower edge of which is approx. 0.55 m above floor level.  Above the window lintel is a pointed stone relieving arch within which, on the outside, are stone transennas composed of two halves, subsequently merging, decorated with close-set rows of alternating six-pointed stars and small hexagons (two hexagons to one star).  These windows also have iron bars on the outside, forming a small grid (5 x 7 sections).  Inside, the relieving arch is concealed, and set in a rectangular panel above the window. The areas of the rectangular panel to either side of the relieving arch are decorated.

            The windows at the second level, which are set in the same vertical axes as those of the first level, are rather smaller and are accentuated by terminating in a pointed arch.  On the outside, the arch is emphasized by being made of different material from the wall (the arch is of brick).  On the inside, the frame of the entire window is decorated.

            The windows at the third level are in the upper reaches of the body of the mosque, one at the centre of each wall, in the centre of a panel enclosed by decorative arches.   These windows are even smaller, but as with the second-level windows, the pointed arches are accentuated on the outside by being made of different materials from the wall face (the arch is of brick).  On the inside, the frame of the entire window is decorated.

            The windows of the fourth level are in the axis of each side of the drum.  These windows terminate in a pointed arch, and are glazed by inserting circular polychrome glass into the glazed window frame.  These circles are set in the central panel of the window so as to form nine horizontal rows with four or three circles per row.

            Decorative stone carving features on the entrance portal, mihrab, mimber and mahfil.  The mihrab, mimber, mahfil and stone capitals have retained the wealth of original design. Inside the mosque, carved, polychrome-painted rosettes are also to be seen – two hemispheres with moulded ribs, on the north-west entrance wall.

In general conception and typological features the entrance portal falls within the first group of portals (classification by A. Andrijević, 1984).  It projects outwards from the wall face by approx. 0.55 m, dominating the central sofa area.  In width it occupies the entire space between the sofas, while its height is 4.88 m measured from floor level of the mosque entrance. The actual entrance, consisting of double wooden doors, is framed by massive stone doorjambs over which is a stone segmental arch.  Both the doorjambs and the arch are without mouldings.  Above the door to the mosque is a stone plaque (measuring 57 x 122 cm) with a tarih [chronogram], mounted inside a rectangular panel set back from the face of the portal.  The inscription is set in four square panels surrounded by decorative floral motifs.

            Over the area where the chronogram is mounted is the wavy semicircular line of the lower front part of the portal niche. The inside corners of the niche are decorated with painted stalactites.

            The mihrab is one step above floor level of the mosque and projects outwards from the wall face by approx. 34.7 cm.  Its height from mosque floor level to the top of the mihrab crown is approx. 4.30 m.  At the centre of the mihrab is a seven-sided niche.  The opening of the niche terminates in stepped polychrome stalactite decorations set in five rows.  These gradually narrow towards the top so as to enclose the hollow of the niche.  The edges of the niche consist of a stone frame with rich polychrome decoration.The niche area is surrounded by a rectangular panel set in the moulded stone frame of the mihrab.  Traces of polychrome decorations can also be made out in this panel, with two semi-calotte-shaped stone projections on each side of the niche.  The curvature of the mihrab niche is framed by hour-glass elements.  The mihrab area terminates in a serrated string course.  This area too is decoratively treated with polychrome painted decoration.

            During research works on the painted decorations during the 1960s, probes were inserted from which it was found that there are two painted layers on the mihrab.

            The mimber is massive, and made of stone.  It is composed of three main sections: the entrance portal with steps and stone balustrade, the upper pyramidal section resting on four octagonal pillars, and the triangular side areas below this part and the stair rail.  The lintel of the portal is adorned by a stone plaque, the crown, which terminates in the shape of stylized buds, smaller ones surrounding a larger central bud. The central part of the front is occupied by a stone plaque with an inscription – a quotation from the Qur’an.  The stone plaque below the inscription which composes the top of the portal opening is in the shape of a pointed arch, which merges into the doorjambs at the base.  This motif of a pointed arch features again at the top of the opening between the pillars supporting the octagonal drum and canopy of the mimber with alem (finial).  The sides of the mimber consist of a stone balustrade with decoration executed as moulded stone slabs with the motif that also features on the mahfil balustrade and the stone transennas of the lower-level windows – rows of alternating six-pointed stars and small hexagons, two hexagons to each star.  Polychrome painted decoration can be seen on the triangular side panels of the mimber.  Other decorations also to be seen on the mimber are four carved rosettes with floral motif.

            The mahfil is to the right of the entrance, supported by stone pillars with capitals treated in the same way as those of the columns in the mosque portico.  A small door leading to the narrow, dark spiral staircase of the minaret is located below the gallery, in the south-west wall of the mosque.  The mahfil is of stone, and measures 4.50 x 2.63 m.  It is supported by four octagonal stonen pillars approx. 2.50 m in height, the bases and capitals of which are treated in the same way as the columns of the mosque portico.  Between the pillars is a stone plaque with a decorative edge in the shape of a Saracenic (pointed horseshoe) arch, suggesting decoration executed in wood.  The upper part of the mahfil consists of a moulded architrave cornice, a stone balustrade, and the upper cornice, also moulded.  The balustrade consists of perforated stone slabs with geometric ornamentation – rows of pierced six-pointed stars and hexagons.  The floor is made of wooden boards.

The ćurs is in the corner to the left of mihrab. It is made of wood and covered with rugs, as is the entire floor of the mosque.

Painted decorations

Almost nothing was known about the painted decorations of the Ferhadija mosque because the wall surfaces were covered with whitewash and coats of paint and were badly damaged.

            The 16th century arabesque painting so far discovered in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Aladža mosque in Foča (1551), the Karađoz-beg mosque in Mostar (1557) and the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo (1561). All these arabesques display the supreme values of arabesque painting, and have many features in common: the technique and method of working, the motifs used, the stylization of identical motifs and the arabesque line, executed with virtuosity with a single stroke of the brush, the fine line of which is the principal quality of the arabesques.  In quality and technique, these arabesques are of far greater value than other arabesque painting to be found nowadays in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is no doubt that such valuable works of art could have been created by master painters with great experience.  Their works contain all the features of Iranian or Turkish arabesque painting (Bahtijarević, 2000, p. 203-204).

            Information on the paintings in the Ferhadija mosque can be found in the works of two authors: Jusuf Začinović, and Andrej Andrejević’s 16th century Islamic Monumental Art in Yugoslavia – domed mosques.

            In an article published in the periodical Naše starine XIII on the wall decorations of the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo, on the occasion of the conservation and restoration work conducted on the interior of the building in 1968 and 1970, Začinović noted:

 “It is not known how long the original decorations managed to survive, but is certain that a new decorative cycle followed in 1761-62. Mula Mustafa Bašeskija, the Sarajevo chronicler, refers to this in one short sentence which reads: ‘The Ferhadija and Bašćaršija mosques have been repaired and decorated.’ This chronicler also recorded among the deceased several names of nakaš [painters, decorators] who lived in the second half of the 18th century (Mustafa basa, son of Mahmut, Mula Ismail, Mula Mehmed, Mali Husein), which suggests that the painting of Ferhadija mosque could have been done by an artist from Sarajevo.” (Začinović, 1972, p. 221).

During the Austro Hungarian occupation of BiH all the coats of whitewash and paint dating from the Turkish period were covered with a new décor. This new ornamental décor, which was stereotypical in style and used very dark colours, deteriorated so rapidly that it was not long before only fragments survived. The main reason for such major damage to the wall surfacesand the almost complete destruction of the coats of paint was that the Ferhadija, like many other domed buildings in BiH, was left without its lead roof cladding for a long time, after it was stripped off by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, which used for its own purposes.  

The interior of the mosque remained relatively untouched, except for minorplastering in the lower reaches, until 1964-65, when conservation and restoration works were carried out on the exterior of the building, and its surroundings were refurbished, followed three years later by the refurbishment of the interior as well.  This intervention came about as the result of an initiative by the owner of the monument, the Islamic Religious Community of Sarajevo(2), which also financed the works (Začinović, 1972, p. 222).

            The research works, carried out by inserting probes into the coats of paint on the walls for the purpose of finding old wall decorations, revealed that there were five painted layers dating from different periods.  The oldest, and extremely valuable decorations, dating from the 16th century, were found on the first layer which, along with the layer with paintings dating from the 18th century and a few fragments predating the Austro-Hungarian décor, were the subject of the investigations.

            The first and oldest painted layer was found on the dome, the cornice, the pendentives, the base of the corner calottes, the mihrab and the lunettes of the lower row of windows. In all these places the decorations dating from the earliest period were preserved in fragments only, while they were found to be complete on the base of the calottes and the window lunettes.

            A fragment found on the crown of the dome reveealed that at the centre, around the rosette of the keystone, a circle had been drawn with a diameter of 240 cm, with a composition of plant motifs (intertwined branches with roses, leaves and flowers).  The colour relationships (red, green, ochre), with a black contour line enhancing the contrast, make the motif stand out against the greyish-white background. Two fine black lines on either side of a broader red line surround the circle, on which stylized vases filled with floral motifs are arranged in a ring-like frieze. Stylized leaves follow the basic outline of the vases, and a rose is set at the centre of the widest point.  The area between each of the vases, or in other words their reverse image, is filled with a five-petalled flower.  All these motifs are executed freehand, with some departures from perfect symmetry, giving them a particular visual charm and ease.  Traces of five large medallions were found on the remaining surfaces of the dome.  The most complete of these was the medallion extending directly outwards from the central circular frieze southwards, and in the central zone of the dome westwards. The remaining medallions to the east and north-east could barely be made out, just enough to indicate where they had been. The freedom of execution and diversity of the various parts of the medallions did not allow for an exact reconstruction of the appearance of any one of them.  Careful study revealed that another four circles were inscribed in a circle with a diameter of 95 cm, over which were yet another four, larger in diameter. The circles occupying a vertical position are elongated into ellipses, forming leaf shapes.  The outer parts of the intersecting circles are enhanced by red outlines, giving a multi-arched appearance, apart from two pointed arches, denoting the hanging point of the medallions.  Here too, plant motifs featured, with stylized leaves and intertwining semicircular branchlets.  Muted tones of green, red and blue were used to fill the irregular spaces between the leaves, which compose four groups.  The centre of the medallion is red, to underline the sequence of the medallions.  The fragments of medallions found extended from the centre of the crown of the dome towards the tops of the windows in the drum.  Measurement of the reconstructed medallion and of the arch of the dome, where the fragments of medallions were used as reference points, revealed that each chain was composed of three large medallions.  It was thus established that the circular frieze had 32 vases and that the rest of the dome was decorated with 24 medallions.  Painted as they were on the concave hemisphere of the surface of the dome, viewed from below and depending on the angle, the effect of foreshortening was to give each of them a distinct circular or elliptical appearance (Začinović, 1972, p. 223).

            Two painted layers were found on the main cornice below the drum, with a simple geometric motif.  Only two colours featured here, red and black for the outline, along with the colour of the main shade of the wall.

            In the central zone, which extends from below the dome to the lower windows on the first and oldest layer of plaster, a frieze motif was found at the base of the calotte, in a more complete state of preservation.  The best preserved part was found at the base of the south-east calotte, with a plant motif of interwoven lotus leaves.  The background was red-brown, and the leaves light grey, outlined in black.       

            The same range of colours was used for the frieze of interwoven geometric motifs to mid point, the remainder being composed of plant ornaments with lilies, at the base of the north-east calotte.

            The calotte arches, and the mouldings of the wall arches, are outlined with a wide red line, the patterns of which contain a large downwards-facing red lily.

            Calligraphic inscriptions were executed in a specific order on the eight spherical triangles between the trompes.   The decorative script was set in an 85 cm diameter circle around which was a circular frieze of plant motifs.  Ornaments of a floral nature were also painted around the three windows of the third level.  Undulating branchlets with decorative leaves or flowers extend from the centre of these frieze motifs.  Green was used for the background colour, and red as highlights on the flowers.  Black outlines, an obligatory element of this decoration, separate the colours.

In the lower zones, the mihrab occupies a central place.  Architecturally, it is of modest but harmonious forms, and also has painted decorations.  Probes revealed seven layers of paint here, five of which had interesting motifs. The first step was to find and obtain the necessary documentation on the third layer as well as on some fragments under this layer, and only then to start to remove all the coats of paint to reveal the first and oldest layer.

The decorations of this layer were on a lime foundation evenly applied to the well-cut stone blocks used to make the mihrab.  The binder for the pigments is of organic origin, based on casein, and this décor was thus made using the al secco – dry on dry – technique.   Plant ornaments were painted on the wall surface of the mihrab surrounding the centre and niche.  Rectangles were then drawn on the entire surface using a sharp instrument, within which the basic structure of the arabesque was drawn, after which the thin black outline of the main elements of the ornamentation (roses, flowers and florets on interwoven branchlets) was drawn freehand using a brush.  The palette of the artist who painted these decorations was limited to just a few colours – bright yellow, cinnabar red, cobalt blue and black – with the red, blue and black shaded by the addition of white.

The structure of the arabesque, of which the basic shape is a circle tending to evolve into a spiral, intersected by an equilateral triangle, was used for an interweave design of branchlets on which roses, florets, flowers and leaflets were drawn, with one large stylized leaf (Začinović, 1972, p. 224).

The measured colour relations, executed in contrasts of black and white or shaded with soft tones of pink, blue, green and grey, constitute the principal quality of this decoration.

Below the stalactites, in the hollow of the mihrab niche, the original decorations were found, with elements of the pointed arch below which calligraphic inscriptions were almost obligatory in a mihrab.

Motifs of plant decorations were found on the lunettes of two windows at the lower level.  The ornament, of which the basic motif is a garland, very commonly used in Turkish decorations, and which originated from the genre of stylized animal motifs (dragons) so wholly transformed as to lose its symbolic meaning and acquire an abstract floral nature, is set in a triangular area.  At the centre of this motif is a stylized rose from which two twining branchlets extend towards each of the angles of the triangle, intertwining with the main garland.  Leaflets and carnation flowers forming constellations are added to the branchlets. The measured tones used (green, black, red, blue) are of less importance than the harmony of line and form.

An examination of the places where fragments of the oldest painted layer were found reveals that the artist was well acquainted with the principles of decorative composition.  The various compositions are adapted to the architectural forms of the building and conform to the dominant style of that time.  The compositions on the main architectural elements articulate the building into three “storeys,” thus accentuating the value of the forms (dome, trompes, calotte) and revealing the aesthetic value of the details (stalactites, mihrab, mimber etc.) – a concentration of motifs into two main points.

In terms of the nature of certain motifs, the ornamentation of the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo belongs to the group of older wall decorations brought to this part of the world from Asia Minor.  In terms of the classification of decorative styles by Turkish art historians, the decorations of this layer belong to the group known as Rumi ornament, also to be found in the Aladža mosque in Foča (Začinović, 1972, p. 226).

            The second painted layer – No significant traces of older decoration were found in the central zones where this layer predominates, so that during reconstruction the wall surfaces were supplemented with this décor.

            The paintings of this layer are of purely plant origin, as can clearly be seen from the best preserved compositions, in the calottes and the central part of the mihrab.  Indistinct traces of paint belonging to this layer were also found on the surfaces of the dome.

Faint traces of paint were found in a single place (the north-west section) on the drum, on the walls between the eight windows, indicating that all eight panels were decorated with motifs of trees with branches, foliage and fruit.  These show similarities with the décor in the drum of the Koski Mehmed-Pasha mosque in Mostar (Začinović, 1972, p. 226).

The reveals around the eight windows are decorated with a simple plant motif consisting of a twining branchlet with foliage and lily flowers.  The lower row of windows is decorated in a similar fashion, except that a pomegranate fruit is used as the main central motif.

The four calottes are separate decorative units, with each calotte divided by ribs into five panels. The panels between the ribs are painted with tree motifs (cypresses), in the upper row. The middle row is decorated with a flower in each rhombus, and the lower row is painted with alternating motifs of trees and vases of flowers. The cypresses, the trunks of which are in brown, with the schematic representation of the foliage in leaf-green, are painted freehand. The cypress motif is common in decorations of this type, because mystical properties are attributed to this tree, which is also a symbol of life beyond the grave.  The stylized trees, the crowns of which are executed merely in outline to denote a cypress, are filled in with foliage of decorative appearance. The six panels of the lowest row in the calottes is decorated with vases containing bunches of tulips.  The vases are not repeated elsewhere either in shape or in the type of flowers they contain.  These motifs are painted using pure colours (red, blue, green, yellow) and are treated in a way that aspires to realism.

There are similar decorations on the panel above the stalactite decorations of the mihrab, but these are more specific in the way they are composed and stylized.  Two vertical green branches on a greyish-white background serve as the plan of the décor.  Long leaves with stylized carnation and tulip flowers fill the remaining space.  The central panel contains a motif with stylized hyacinths.  The frieze panel surrounding the mihrab is decorated with medallions with stylized plant motifs.  The medallions are linked by two interwoven bands or ribbons forming a decorative knot.  The horizontal section of this panel bears a calligraphic inscription.

The stalactite decorations are painted with the colours used in the decorations of the first and second layers.  The colour on these polygonal features is intended to emphasize the sculptural value of the details.

These decorations of purely floral character aspire in places to naturalism, and have all the features of the style of the 18th century, with a marked expression of local taste.  The ease of artistic expression achieved by the artist’s free improvization constitutes the principal value of the second layer (Začinović, 1972, p. 227).

The wall decoration of the first layer was executed on a thick plaster base applied in two coats.  The first, red layer consists of two parts lime to two parts ground brick-breccia, covering the stone and tufa blocks in an even layer 6-10 mm thick.  A coat of fine plaster composed of lime and chopped tow serving as armature was laid over this, and then finely polished before being given a coat of slightly tinted whitewash.  The artist then used a sharp tool to incise onto this prepared base the panels in which the elements of the décor were to be executed.  The binder for the pigment is of organic origin, based on casein. The finely ground pigments enabled the paints to be applied very thinly and evenly.  In the colour-range used here, only black, red and reddish-yellow have retained their original brilliance, while blue and green have faded, partly as a result of exposure to light but mainly because they were less resistant to lime.

The remaining layers of later decorations were laid directly over the old ones, except that all the wall surfaces were re-whitewashed several times before repainting.  In some places, most commonly at the base of the dome and calottes, large areas of more recent plaster similar in composition to the oldest were found, except that chopped rye straw instead of tow was used for the armature.  Presumably these places had been affected by rainwater leakage and the penetration of damp as a result of shifts in the lead roof cladding.  In the late 19th and first quarter of the 20th century, a radical refurbishment of the interior was carried out.  The old plaster was stripped off, but being extremely solid it nonetheless survived in a number of places (Začinović, 1972, p. 227).


Outside the entrance to the mosque is a šadrvan fountain and graveyard with nišan tombstones, some with epitaphs and some without.

Šadrvan fountain

Evliya Çelebi says of this fountain: “There are sebilj (fountains) at three hundred places where people drink water. They are built as an expression of love for the martyrs of Karbala. Most of them are in the čaršija or the square. The most imposing are the fountains of Ferhad-beg, Husref-beg, Murat-beg, and gazi Isa-beg, and those of other leading men and prominent people. The translator’s comment is that Çelebi exaggerated the number of fountains, and that he probably included the šadrvan fountains outside the city’s mosques (Çelebi, 1996, p. 112).

According to Kreševljaković, the česma fountain in Ferhadija was also stone-built, with a stone trough, and stood outside the mosque courtyard, roughly midway between that small street and Jeftanović Street; it was demolished in 1892. In early Muharram 1218 (late April 1803) one Hajji Ahmed, son of Hajji Alija, a resident of the Ferhad-beg mahala, endowed two shops and a magazine near Kolobara and the Rustempaša bezistan and allocated part of the revenue for repairs to this fountain. This fountain belonged to the Gazi Husrev-beg water supply system (Kreševljakovič, 1939, p. 89).

Kreševljaković also says that it seems that suračesme (fountains with four or more waterpipes) were located outside mosques and that they were called šadrvan fountains (Kreševljaković, 1939, p. 41). In the fire of 1697 all the fountains and sebiljs in Sarajevo were destroyed. There were no more until 1167 (1753) when the sebilj in Baščaršija was erected. All that survives of other sebiljs is the kurna (sebiljkurna – stone trough hollowed out into the shape of an Indian club) into which water flowed in the Ferhadija mosque, which had clearly been made from a stećak tombstone; it has now been transferred to the Careva mosque (Kreševljaković, 1939, p. 44, 46). Nothing now survives of these structures. All that can be seen alongside the mosque is a simply shaped fountain with a metal trough and eight waterpipes, mounted on a square stone stand. The trough is covered with an iron grid in the shape of a cone.

Harem of the mosque

            The small courtyard just in front of the mosque now contains about twenty tombstones.  The nišan tombstones have epitaphs in Ottoman Turkish, and have variously-shaped tops (aga’s tombstones, ulema’s tombstones with mušebek and čatal turban, dervish’s tombstones with a cap, and tombstones with pleated turban and wrapover). The ten pairs of tombstones with epitaphs reveal that it was mainly official representatives of the Sarajevo janissary odžak [headquarters] were buried here; these headquarters were near this mosque, just where the Cathedral now stands. The tombstones of Čelebi-aga, tunardži baša [commander of one of the janissary branches]; Bosnian turnadži baša Mehmed-aga, sertunadžija [officer in the janissary] Alijaga, bajraktar [standard-bearer] Mustafa, and kolćehaja [deputy] of the Bosnian aga Ebu Bekir can be seen here. Members of the Hadžimusić and Ahmedagić families were also buried here. The oldest dated nišan tombstone is from 1159 (1746/47) and the most recent from 1294 (1877/78). In form and workmanship, several of the undated tombstones could be dated to the 17th century (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 414).

Epitaph on the tombstone of the Bosnian aga Čelebi-aga

The oldest and artistically very valuble tombstone is the one adorning the grave of the Bosnian Čelebi-aga Turnadžibaša, made in 1159 (1746/47). The top of the headstone (which is ? cm in height, and 17 x 17 cm in section) is in the form of janissary turban, and the footstone is octagonal. The long epitaph in verse in Turkish, in the nasta’liq script, runs around all four sides of the headstone. The epitaph is a poem by the Sarajevan poet Mejlija (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 61). The tombstone is surrounded by large cut stone blocks.

“Alas what grief, Čelebi-aga, of noble qualities,

Resolved to join the Merciful and rendered up his


Leaving his temporary post of Bosnian


He was granted eternal heavenly honours

He wrote much during his life [illegible…]

And spent all his life reading and writing.

A copy of his work “Code” which he rewrote is a cure

for his sins

And no doubt that work will be the reason

for the forgiveness of sin.

Come, let us pray, since [for a visit to the grave]

the purpose is prayer.

May the True One plunge the deceased in the sea

of forgiveness,

And on the Day of Judgment may his advocate be

the pride of the world, Muhammad.

May him find his abode in the gardens of paradise and may

faith be his friend.

O Mejlija, adding one to the prayer this chronogram to him

is pronounced:

May the Almighty make the Garden of Eden the turnadži baša’s


1159 (1746/47)

(Mujezinović, 1998, p. 414-415).

Epitaph on the tombstone of Bosnian-aga, turnadži-baša Mehmed-aga

            The headstone on which this epitaph is incised in prose has a janissary commander’s turban.  The script is a handsome naskh.

“Deceased and late Bosnian turnadži-baša

Mehmed-aga. [Recite] al-Fatiha for his soul.

1169 (1755/56) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 415)

Epitaph on the tombstone of sertunadžija Alijaga

            This epitaph, a poem in Turkish, is incised in handsome naskh script on one side of the headstone in eight slanting lines. The tombstone is 1 m in height and 18 x 18 cm in cross section, and is surrounded by a santrač of cut slabs.


Sertunadžija Alijaga, scribe in the divan [court]

Namesake of the lion of God (the caliph Ali)

Finding himself in the post of Bosnian aga

said “Ah”

And moved to the garden of the Gulshan-sarai [Rosegarden court]

With jawhar letters [jawahir raqam, Jewel letters] I pronounced this

chronogram for him

May the Lord illuminate the aga’s tomb

1182” (1768/69)

The poet did not mention his pseudonym in this chronogram. However, Kadić, who included this epitaph in his Zbornik [Collection] (chapter VII, p. 348), assumes that it was was a poem by Mejlija, and judging from the stylization of the epitaph and other circumstances this may be taken as correct (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 416).

Epitaph on the tombstone of bajraktar Mustafa Ahmedagić

There are two precisely carved tombstones on the grave of this standard-bearer.  The headstone (2 m in height and 18 x 18 cm in cross-section) has a very skilfully made pleated turban. The epitaph is in verse in Turkish. The script is jali naskh, rather difficult to decipher.

“O, Death,

Remember the deceased with a moral lesson,

The respected standard-bearer Mustafa Ahmedagić,

Who in youth parted from the transient

house of temptation

Mensur pronounced for him in a single word

a chronogram of death:

22 Shaban 1222 (25.10.1807)

The year of death is written in numbers below the epitaph, and is also expressed by the poet in abjad in the word “Bahtijar,” of which the sum of the numeric values of the  letters is 1222, the year of Mustafa’s death (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 416).

Epitaph on the tombstone of Muhamed Nazif-efendi

            Nazif-efendi’s grave has two nišan tombstones and a santrač surround. The headstone with mušebek-turban bears the following epitaph in prose, in decorative nasta’liq script.

“Al-Fatiha. deceased and late leader of honourable scholars Muhamed Nazif-efendi. [Recite] al-Fatiha for his soul. He passed away to divine mercy on the twelfth of Rabi’ al-Akhira 1249 (6.9.1833) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 417).

Epitaph on the tombstone of Hajji Afifa-Hadžimusić

            The grave of the deceased has two ordinary women’s tombstones with a santrač surrounde. The headstone bears the following epitaph in verse in Turkish. Script: bold, handsome naskh.

“ He (God) is the Eternal Creator

This is the grave of hajji-Afifa

Daughter of the well known Hadžimusić

She did many good deeds

and left to be close to the True one

The chronogram of death came from the pen:

May the True one reward Afifa with paradise

15 Jumada-l-Ula 1257 (5.7.1841)

The year of the chronogram, which is also expressed in abjad, is reached by adding the numeric values of the letters of the last semicouplet of the epitaph (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 417)

Epitaph on the tombstone of Habiba-hanuma Svrzo

            The tombstones of the deceased are ordinary women’s nišans, with an epitaph incised in prose on the headstone in handsome bold naskh script.

“God is Eternal. Deceased and late Habiba-hanuma, daughter of Nazif-efendi Svrzo. [Recite] al-Fatiha for her soul. 24 Shawwal 1277, (5.5.1861) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 417).


The following persons were also buried by the Ferhadija mosque:

  • Bekir-aga, Bosnian kolćehaja, died in 1229 AH (1813/14). His epitaph was published by Kemura in Sarajevo’s Mosques, p. 336
  • Kadi Mehmed-aga, son of hajji Mustafa, died in 1270 AH (1853/54). Plain tombstones
  • Amina-hanuma, daughter of hajji Ibrahim, 1 Dhu l-Hijjah 1294 (7.12.1877) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 418).


The graveyard was reopened for burials in 1995. Important contemporary cultural and historical figures are buried there: the painter Ibrahim Ljubović (1938-1995), the writer Alija Isaković (1932-1997), and Prof. Dr. Muhsin Rizvić (1930-1994). (Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo, 2000).


3. Legal status to date

            The Regional Plan for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo as a Category I monument.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo no. 677/50 of 1950, the Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo was placed under state protection.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo no. 02-618-3 of 1962, the Ferhadija mosque in Jeftanović street in Sarajevo was entered on the register of immovable cultural monuments..

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the City Institute for the Protection and Maintenance of Cultural Monuments in Sarajevo no. 107/67 of 1968, the Ferhadija mosque (as part of the ensemble of Vaso Miskin street in Sarajevo) is of the nature of a cultural monument as an organic part of the old Sarajevo čaršija.  Under the terms of this Ruling the buildings and non built-up areas are of the nature of cultural monuments: “cadastral plots nos. 1 and 99, Land Register entry XXXVI/60, a site of public property, the Ferhadija mosque and surroundings, property of the Ferhad-beg mosque, ex land registered management body of the Board of the Islamic Religious Community, Sarajevo.”

            The graveyard beside the Ferhadija mosque is protected as part of the townscape entity of Ferhadija street, Ruling no. 107/67 of 12 March 1968, a Category II monument.

            The Ferhadija mosque in Sarajevo is on the Provisional list of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, under serial no. 545.


4. Research and conservation and restoration work

  • 1964-65 – restoration and conservation work making good the exterior of the building and its surroundings: the Fund for the Maintenance of Baščaršija carried out repairs and improvements to the building in terms of architecture and town planning – the grey stone and concrete wall surrounding the courtyard was removed, as was a row of shops (dilapidated Austro-Hungarian buildings) opposite it (along Ferhadija street). The battered plaster was stripped from the façade, when the nature colour and structure of cut stone as an organic material was revealed (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 59). In line with a project drawn up by Engineer Ahmed Hadžiosmanović, work began on improvements to the area around the mosque, organized by the Fund for the Maintenance of Baščaršija. The project provided for the wall to the west of the building and the ground-floor buildings north of the courtyard to be demolished, the greening of the surrounding area, and the construction of a parking area behind the mosque on the Hotel Europe side  It also provided for the outside of the mosque to be made good, for the courtyard to be surrounded by a stone wall to the north, for repairs to the šadrvan fountain, and for the courtyard to be partly cobbled and the tombs to be refurbished.

During the two years’ work, supervised by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH, this work was only partly completed. The stone walls with concrete facing on the west side of the courtyard were demolished, as were allthe ground floor buildings to the north of the mosque, the plaster on the outside wall surfaces and minaret was removed, a low stone wall was built around the courtyard, the main façade was painted in a shade of paint intended to be similar to the original, and the painted décor on the entrance door and around them was reconstructed (Mujezinović, Tihić, 1967, p. 65).

  • 1968-70 – conservation and restoration work inside the Ferhadija mosque:
    • the first investigative works and probes were carried out on all the surfaces where it was assumed that decorations from earlier periods could be found;
    • the second painted layer was revealed andn the necessary photodocumentation compiled, along with copying onto cards to a scale of 1:1;
    • in order to restore the authentic appearance of the interior, the proposed treatment embraced all three principles: conservation, restoration and reconstruction, depending on the aesthetic value of the painted surfaces and of the extent to which the various areas of the decoration were at risk;
    • conservation was applied to all the ares where original decorations were found: the first medallion from the crown of the dome towards the mihrab, fragments of a ring-like frieze motif, the south-east and south-west calottes, the lunettes of the two windows by the mihrab, and the decoration on the mihrab;
    • restoration was applied to: all the medallions, the ornamental motifs of the ring-like frieze around the centre of the dome, the mihrab and the window lunettes.  Reconstruction was also applied to these elements, since not one of them had survived in its entirety;
    • the empty wall surfaces were painted on a plaster ground, in a light shade similar to the original;
    • simultaneously with work on the decoration of the mosque interior, all the dilapidated timber elements of the windows, doors and mahfil were replaced by new, and the entire floor was replaced.  Old timber elements – the shutters on the lower row of windows etc. – that had been painted with oil paint were cleaned and conserved;
    • the oil paint was stripped from the stone surfaces – the pillars with capitals and balustrade of the mahfil, the entire mimber and the window jambs – which were then sanded back down to the pure structure of the stone;
    • perforations (chipboard) glazed with coloured “klirit” glass were made for the eight windows on the drum and the three on the south wall;
    • electric wiring was installed;
    • central heating was installed (Začinović, 1972, p. 229-231).
  • 1998-99 – At the request of the Islamic Religious Community, the following works were carried out, organized by the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo:
    • an iron fence 85 cm in height was erected around the mosque complex;
    • underfloor heating was installed in the mosque, with a central gas-fired boiler, and a new floor was laid.  The boiler is to the right of the mimbar, and the flue is on the mihrab wall.


5. Current condition of the property

An on site inspection in October 2004 revealed the following:

  • there is insufficient natural light inside the building on account of the tall buildings in the immediate vicinity;
  • physical damage to the dome is visible from the interior of the mosque;
  • there are stains on the plaster caused by damp penetration on the inner side of the dome and the wall decorations of the upper zone of the mosque;
  • cracks are visible, in particular on the plaster of the interior of the mosque in the upper zone (dome, drum and first and second rows of windows).  These cracks are also visible on the exterior façades of the building, but here they are smaller;
  • there is visible damage to the final coat of plaster on the transitional prism between the base and shaft of the minaret;
  • the entire mosque complex is hard to view since open-air cafés occupy the space hard by the fence surrounding the complex, and in particular as a result of the erection of canvas canopies that almost entirely block the view of the building from both Ferhadija and Skarić streets.



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

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C. i. quality of workmanship

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

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

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

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.iii. use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling

G.vii. other internal and external factors

H. Rarity and representativity

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

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity

I.iii. completeness


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

o        Photodocumentation;

o        Drawings



1939     Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Vodovodi i gradnje na vodi u starom Sarajevu (Water systems and construction on water in old Sarajevo), published by the City Saving Bank of the Municipality of Sarajevo City, Islamic Stock Holders' Press, Sarajevo, 1939.


1953     Bejtić, Alija, Spomenici osmanlijske arhitekture u Bosni i Hercegovini (Monuments of Ottoman architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina) offprint – Contributions to oriental philology and the history of the Yugoslav peoples under Turkish rule, volume. III-IV, Oriental Institute, Sarajevo, 1953.


1967     Mujezinović, Mehmed and Tihić, Smail, Ferhadija džamija u Sarajevu – u povodu konzervatorskih radova na objektu izvršenih u 1964-1965. godine, (Ferhadija Mosque in Sarajevo – on the occasion of conservation work on the building conducted in 1964-1965), Naše starine  XII, Yearbook of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1967


1969     Bejtić, Alija, Stara sarajevska čaršija jučer danas i sutra – osnove i smjernice za regeneraciju (Old Sarajevo trade centre, yesterday, today and tomorrow – bases and guidelines for regeneration), City Institute for the Protection and Maintenance of Cultural Monuments, Sarajevo, 1969.


1972     Začinović, Jusuf, Zidne dekoracije Ferhadije džamije u Sarajevu – povodom konzervatorsko-restauratorskih radova izvršenih u unutrašnjosti objekta 1968. i 1970. godine (Wall Decorations of the Ferhadija Mosque in Sarajevo – on the occasion of conservation-restoration work conducted on the interior of the building in 1968 and 1970), Naše starine XIII, Yearbook of the Institute for Protection of the Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1972


1997. Bećirbegović, Madžida, Prosvjetni objekti islamske arhitekture u Bosni i Hercegovini (Educational buildings of Islamic architecture in BiH), offprint from Contributions to Oriental Philology XX-XXI, Sarajevo, 1974                   


1980     Institute of Architecture, Urbanism and Town Planning of the Faculty of Architecture of Sarajevo, Prostorni plan Bosne i Hercegovine; Faza «B» - valorizacija prirodne i kulturno-historijske vrijednosti (Regional plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Stage B – valorization of natural, cultural and historical values), Sarajevo, 1980.


1984     Andrejević, Andrej, Islamska monumentalna umetnost XVI veka u Jugoslaviji – kupolne džamije (16th century Islamic monumental art in Yugoslavia – domed mosques), Faculty of Philosophy of Belgrade, Institute of Art History, Belgrade, 1984.


1996     Çelebi, Evliya, Putopis – odlomci o jugoslovenskim zemljama (Travelogue – Excerpts on Yugoslav countries),  Sarajevo Publishing, Sarajevo, 1996.


1998     Mujezinović, Mehmed, 1998, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic epigraphics of Bosnia and Herzegovina), bk. I, Sarajevo-Publishing, 1998


2000     Ayverdi Dr Ekrem Hakki, Avupra’da Osmanli Mimari Eserlera Yugoslavya II, 3 kitab, Istanbul, 2000.


2000     Material from the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historic and Natural Heritage Sarajevo, Application for Inclusion on the List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 2000.


2000     Bahtijarević, Nihad, Istraživački radovi na zidnom slikarstvu Karađoz-begove džamije u Mostaru (Research Works on the Wall Paintings of the Karađoz-beg Mosque in Mostar, Herzegovina 11-12 – magazine for cultural and historical heritage, Archives of Herzegovina, Mostar, 2000


Material from the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historic and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina


(1) All dimensions in the text are taken from. Ayverdi Dr Ekrem Hakki, Avrupa’da Osmanli Mimari Eserlera Yugoslavya II, 3. kitab, Istanbul, 2000.

(2) “In its decision on the decoration of the mosque interior the Board of the Islamic Religious Community drafted a concept which provided for the radical redecoration of the interior, including the “plastering” from the Austro Hungarian period, using Disperol technique The work began immediately, and once scaffolding had been erected, the plaster was removed from three walls up to the dome. Since the programme had not been submitted to the authority for the protection of cultural monuments, the works were suspended. The concept was far from satisfying conservation experts, as a result of which the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH offered its own programme, with an undertaking to carry out the work on the mihrab at their expense. The research and expert supervision of the conservation and reconstruction of the décor, as well as other suggestions for the decoration of interior, was headed by Jusuf Začinović, and the expert consultants were Professor, Engineer of Architecture, Džemal Čelić and Dr Smail Tihić, Senior Expert Collaborator of the Institute.” (Začinović, 1972, p. 222). 

The old photo of Čaršija with Ferhadija mosque North-west, entrance facade PortalInterior of the mosque
Interior of the mosque, mimber and mahfilInterior of the mosque, mahfilMihrabMimber
Interior of the mosque – domeFerhadija mosque  

BiH jezici 
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