Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Ali-pasha mosque with harem, 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 25 to 31 January 2005, the Commission adopted the following






            The architectural ensemble of the Alipasha mosque and its 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. 1611 (new survey) corresponding to cadastral plot no. 145 (old survey), cadastral municipality Centar Sarajevo IV, Land Register entry no. L/104, Municipality of Centar 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 shall be responsible for securing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, rehabilitate, conserve and display the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (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 area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision, Protection Zone I is 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),
  • all interventions and methods used must be identifiable and comply with all the typological and architectural characteristics of the building.



            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, canton, city and municipal services, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the protection thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.anek8komisija.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 to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 Brcko District of BiH no. 4/03), where it features under serial number 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 to Preserve National Monuments: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.


No.: 06.2-2-128/04-6

25 January 2005



Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


E l u c i d a t i o n



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

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the Alipasha mosque in Sarajevo to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under number 503. 

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 consulted:

  • 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, information about damage caused during the war, information about restoration and other works on the property.
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision

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


1. Details of the property 


            The architectural ensemble of the Alipasha Mosque with harem is situated in Marshal Tito street no.14, Sarajevo, at the junction of Marshal Tito street and Ali-pašina street close to Sarajevo Centar Municipal Offices.

The Alipasha Mosque with its harem is situated by Koševo brook, very close to the confluence of Košovo brook and the river Miljacka. As a historical work of architecture the Alipasha Mosque is outstanding, while it is situated in the large open space of a park that has been very well landscaped by Smiljan Klaić, an architect.

The architectural ensemble is located on cadastral plot 1198 (new survey), corresponding to cadastral plots 4, 56 and 48 (old survey), Land Register entry no. L/104, cadastral municipality Sarajevo.

Historical information

            In the mid 14th century, Isa-beg Ishaković laid the foundations of the present-day capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the banks of the river Miljacka. He built a bridge on the river Miljacka (where the Careva ćuprija [Emperor’s bridge] stands today), and several edifices on the left bank: a saraj (a court with ancillary buildings), the first mosque (the Careva džamija [Emperor’s  mosque]) the first public Turkish baths (hammam) and a hippodrome (At-mejdan). Opposite the mosque, on the right bank of the Miljacka, near the old market (trgovište), he built the first caravansarai, known as Kolobara, and a number of shops (dućani) surrounding it.

The next hundred years were a period of rapid development, prosperity and building in Sarajevo. At that time Sarajevo had more than one hundred mosques, an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a Jewish synagogue, about ten medresas (Islamic high schools), several libraries and tekkes (Sufi lodges), thousands of shops (dućani) and magazines), about fifty inns or hostels (hans) and three covered markets (bezistan). Between 1461 and 1866, 68 water systems, about 200 drinking-fountains and a great number of ornamental fountains (šadrvan) were built in the city.

            The governance of Gazi Husrev Bey (1521-1541) was of the utmost importance for the development of Sarajevo. In Sarajevo he built a mosque, a mekteb (Islamic primary school), the Kuršumlija medresa, a haniqah (a special school for Sufi philosophers), a library, a hammam, a musafirhana (travellers’ hostel), an imaret (soup kitchen), a large covered market (suq, known in BiH as bezistan), a number of hans and about 300 shops (dućan).

The economical base of Sarajevo consisted of crafts and trade. Almost sixty different types of crafts were organized in more than thirty gilds.   

            In the late 17th century (1697) during the invasion by Austro-Hungarian Prince Eugene of Savoy the town was laid waste and torched.

The area around the confluence of the Košovo brook and the river Miljacka was densely inhabited in the mid 16th century, where the mosque of Hadim Ali-pasha, whose titles were Budim begler-beg and Bosnian sandžak-beg, was erected in 1560-61, according to his last Will and Testament. By that time the Ali-pašina mahala (residential quarter), the earliest mentioned of which is in 1562, had already taken shape.

Ali-pasha, the founder of the mosque, is assumed to have originated from Drozgometva, Sarajevo Valley. He was raised in Istanbul as an acami-oglan (a boy taken as “tribute” to serve in the Janissaries), and later became the governor in Bosnia and Budim. Before he died, in his will and testament the founder of the mosque ordered the mosque to be built next to his grave (mezar) funded by money from his vakuf (perpetual endowment).

There is a large graveyard around the mosque where Ali-pasha’s grave is, but his tombstone has no epitaph. There used to be a turbe of Ajni-dedo and Šemsi-dedo opposite the mosque until 1950, when the Institute of Public Health was built there.

There used to be a small stone bridge over the Koševo brook in the vicinity of the mosque, which was built in the 16th century and demolished in 1884.

The Ali-pasha mosque was built at the time Ottoman Turkish architecture in Istanbul reached its pinnacle (between 1560-70), so it reflects the full maturity of the building style typical of this kind of building erected in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

The builder of the mosque is unknown, but many details suggest coastal masons.  For instance, the walls are 110 cm (2 cubits) thick, and the stone sofas are 55 cm (1 cubit) high, where the measurement in cubits, not in arshins, indicates the presence of coastal masons.

Thanks to its stone construction, the mosque resisted the many fires that engulfed whole quarters of the town on several occasions.

In 1884 the restoration of the mosque was carried out under the supervision of Zagreb architect Ćiril Iveković(1).

The mosque was damaged in the 1992-1995 war.

The most recent renovation was carried out in 2004.


2. Description of the monument

Ali-pasha 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 Ali-pasha Mosque was built in 1560-61 as a vakuf (legacy) of Ali-pasha, who was Budim Begler-beg and Bosnian Sandžak-beg.

An outstanding artistic level in the classical style of Ottoman architecture was achieved in the Ali-pasha mosque, one of the finest and certainly the best-proportioned mosque (Kurto, 1997, p. 38).

The mosque was built of cut stone blocks and has a very well-proportioned, slender minaret. The high central dome and relatively small footprint of the mosque emphasize the height of the interior. The portico, with its four stone columns linked by arches and the three domes of the roof complement, in size and position, the impression of gradation of the architectural masses of the edifice and of its merging into its surroundings.  

An inscription in Arabic verse is incised on a 72 x 135 cm stone plaque mounted above the main entrance of the mosque. The inscription is incised in four panels and written in jali script adorned with flourishes.

’In the name of God, His Excellency

Gazi Ali-pasha has erected an abode for good people.

There is no similar shrine in the world,

It is a religious house of true cognition, abode

Of sincere believers.

God has inspired its chronograph:

Convergence of ascetics, abode of those who love God.’’

In this inscription the year is expressed only in abjad; adding the numerical values of the letters of the last couple gives the Hijra year 968 (1560-61) (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 403).

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 iof building. It ranks among the most monumental buildings of this type in Sarajevo.

The Ali-pasha Mosque is a domed mosque with a single space and open portico roofed by small domes, with a built-in slender minaret.

On the entrance side, across the full width of the outside wall, there is a portico with sofas roofed by three small domes. All three domes are at the same level and are approx. 8.70 m in height(2), measured to the alem (finial). There are stone sofas on both sides of the mosque door. The sofas measure 4.59 x 3.92 m and 4.79 x 3.2 m, and are covered by three small domes supported by four massive stone columns 0.62 m in diameter. The bases of the columns consist of alternating tori and trochili. There are stone decorations in the form of stalactites on the capitals of the columns. Copper rings were set above the round stone bases set on square plinths, and also below the capitals, in order to reinforce the columns. The columns are linked one to another and to the front mosque wall by pointed stone arches with horizontal steel ties, forming three separate entities. Above them, pendentives with no decorations form the transition into the three equal-sized small domes with low octagonal drums.

The ground plan of the building is almost square, measuring 9.5 x 9.5 m. The massive walls are made of well finished stone blocks approx. 1.10m thick, with the transition into the dome achieved by means of trompes and a drum. Regular-cut limestone was used in building the mosque. Sandstone blocks were used in building the minaret and the portico. The dome and the small domes were built with Turkish tugla bricks.

All the inside walls of the mosque are plastered and whitewashed and some parts are decorated.

Every distinct volume of the exterior form of the mosque terminates in a moulded stone cornice at the points where the roof cladding projects outwards from the vertical face of the wall. All the domes, pitched roofs, flashings, and the spire of the minaret are clad in sheet cooper.

The central part of the mosque is enclosed by a dome approx. 14.80 m in height from the floor of the mosque to the apex of the dome, while the exterior height measured to the alem is 15.20 m. The wall of the dome, built of Turkish tugla bricks, is 0.40 m thick. The dome is 8.80 m in diameter and rests on the the drum, which is octagonal on the outside and cylindrical on the inside. The wall of the is 0.80 m thick, and its exteerior height measured to the cornice is 1.80 m. There is a window on each side of the drum. The drum is reinforced at the corners by pilasters projecting beyond the outside wall face by approx. 0.40m. The walls and the structural trompes are covered by a small hipped roof made of sheet-copper. The three-sided roof of the portico is also clad with sheet-copper.

The transition from the square ground plan of the central part to the circular drum is achieved by four trompes. The trompes are set at the corners of the building, and each has corner stalactites below it. Each trompe is made in the shape of a triple section of a spherical construction. There are strongly moulded arches at the centre of the walls, between the trompes.

The foot of the arches terminates in two rows of stalactites. At all four corners of the mosque, starting at a height of approx. 4.90 m, are corner angular stalactites (stone consoles decorated with stalactites) set in five stepped rows filling the space and narrower towards the top. In addition to these arches there are four more blind arches on the walls of the mosque, which terminate below the lower edge of the drum. There are eight spherical triangles between the arches, forming the direct transition above the trompes into the ring of the drum. The lower edge of the drum is at a height of approx. 9.20 m. Two moulded stone string courses can be seen on the drum. The first is in the shape of a circular stone ring set at the base of the drum, and the second consists as the line of transition from the vertical walls of the drum into the curve of the dome. There are eight smallish arched windows on the drum, with between them, on the inside, are blind window niches decorated with moulded cornices, of the same shape and size as the windows.

The hexagonal stone minaret is 2.00 m in diameter and 31.60 m in height and abuts onto the right-hand outside wall. The entrance to the minaret is in the right-hand corner of the prayer space below the mahfil. The base of the minaret is in the shape of a solid with a polygonal footprint. The transition from the base into the shaft of the minaret is in the shape of a trapezoid prism with a shallow, moulded stone string course.   The bond between the shaft and the šerefe (balcony, gallery) is of dressed stone blocks giving the impression of a coupe. The šerefe balustrade is composed of stone cut to resemble lacework, with prominent upper and lower moulded stone cornices. The barrel of the minaret below the spire terminates in a frieze of blind small arcades with pointed arches. The minaret is topped by an alem (finial) with four identical copper orbs, which terminates in a japrak (leaf motif).

Light enters the mosque through 25 simply shaped windows, five on each sidewall and the mihrab wall, two on the entrance façade and one window on each wall of the octagonal drum. The windows on the sidewalls and the mihrab wall of the central space are arranged on three rows – two windows in each of the two first levels and one in the third level, centrally positioned in relation to the wall face. The windows on the entrance façade are at the lower level only.

All the lower windows are fairly large, with rectangular frames whose lower edge is approx. 0.50 m above the floor of the mosque. These windows have relieving pointed arches above the stone frame. On the outside these windows have iron bars (demiri) forming a small grid pattern (5 x 7). On the inside the relieving arch and rectangular stone frame are painted with light brown oil paint and the rectangular area and arch are painted brown and decorated with painted ornaments. The ornaments consist of rather thick light yellow lines. Within the relieving arch the ornaments start with a semicircle of projecting rays resembling the rays of the sun, which end in tendrils. Each tendril ends in a simplified floral decoration. A similar pattern of tendrils is painted in the rectangular area.

The windows at the second horizontal level are placed in the same vertical axes as the windows of the lower level, but are rather smaller, and terminate with a pointed arch. On the outside the pointed arch is on the same plane as the wall but is accentuated in contrast with the wall face (the arch is made of stone).

            The windows on the third level are set in the upper part of the body of the mosque, in the central axis of each wall, in the centre of the area enclosed by the arches. These windows are of the same size as the windows of the second level and terminate in pointed arches.

The windows on the fourth horizontal level are set in the axis of each side of the drum. They terminate in a pointed arch, and are of the same shape as the windows of the third level, but smaller.

In general conception and typological features the entrance portal falls within the third group of portals (classification by A. Andrijević, 1984). This type of portal also includes those of the Magribija Mosque in Sarajevo, the Hajji Alija Mosque in Počitelj and the Karađoz-beg Mosque in Mostar. It projects approx. 0.25 cm beyond the face of the mosque wall and dominates the central part of the north-west façade. It is so wide as to occupy the entire space between the sofas, at 2.48 m in width and 4.80 m in height. There is a double wooden door in the reveal of the portal, framed by a massive stone doorframe arched with a stone segmental arch. Both the doorframe and the arch are without moulding. A stone plaque (50 x 150 cm) with a tarih (chronogram) is mounted above the entrance door in a rectangular panel set back from the face of the portal.  Above the tarih is a gradally stepped niche in the shape of an equilateral triangle, ornamented with a row of stalactites. The double wooden doors are 1.4 m in width and 2.20 m in height. They are divided into eight rectangular panels ornamented with bas-relief.

The Mihrab of the Ali-pasha Mosque consists of a heptagon mihrab niche of 1.20 m in diameter and approx. 3.50 m in height (from the floor of the mosque to the apex of the mihrab crown). The opening of the niche ends gradually with stalactite decorations set in five rows. The stalactite decorations gradually narrow so that they enclose the recess of the niche and terminate at the top in the crown of the mihrab.  The stone mihrab frame, which projects approx. 10 cm beyond the face of the mosque wall, is built around the mihrab niche. It is 4.20 m in height. The 40 cm wide outer edge of the frame is painted dark brown without decorations except for two circles with inscriptions from the Qur’an in the middle. This part is separated from the niche space by a 10 cm wide moulded stone stringn course of dark brown colour. There is an panel decorated with painted ornaments between the stone string course and the mihrab niche.  The ornaments are composed of thickish light yellow lines on a light brown background. The panel next to the stone string course is decorated with hexagonal stars and rhombs that are interlinked into an unbroken chain. Two panels on the left and right of the mihrab crown are decorated with simplified floral ornaments.             

The Mimber of the Ali-pasha Mosque is entirely made of wood and is situated on the south-east mosque wall on the right-hand side of the mihrab. It is 0.94 m from the mihrab and 1.34 m from the sidewall. It measures 3.89 m in length, 0.94 m in width and 6.40 m in height. The mimber is composed of an entrance portal consisting of a wooden frame, a wooden staircase with stair-rail consisting of a flight of 10-12 stairs, and a landing called kjurs at the top. The kjurs is covered with a pyramidal canopy, painted with oil paint, resting on a wooden frame and topped by an alem. The canopy of the mimber rests on an octagonal drum supported by four wooden pillars linked by pointed arches. There is a passage below the kjurs, which terminates in a pointed arch. The mimber stairs have high wooden stair-rails on both sides, which are simply decorated. The side triangular areas below the stairs and stair-rail are closed and decorated with a large equilateral triangle edged with brown laths. There are three small niches below the triangle, which terminate in pointed arches.  The mihrab is painted with light yellow oil paint and the ornaments are composed of brown lines.

The Mahfil of the Ali-pasha Mosque is a wooden mahfil on the right-hand side of the entrance, with a ground plan measuring 3.60 x 2.50 m, resting on a wooden column with a capital of the same shape as those of the columns in the mosque portico. Below the mahfil, in the south-west mosque wall, is a small door that leads to the narrow, dark and crooked staircase to the minaret. This provides access to the mahfil. The mahfil is made of wooden bearing beams resting on the mosque wall. The balustrade is 1.00 m in height and is made of laths set closely at a 45 degree angle. The entire mahfil is painted with white oil paint with decorative lines in red. The floor is made of boards.

The ćurs is placed on the left-hand side of the mihrab, made of wood and covered with carpets, as is the entire mosque floor.

Harem of Ali - pasha Mosque

            Until World War II or 1939 the spacious graveyard next to the Ali-pasha Mosque contained many more nišans. In that year the graveyard was reduced in size in the area adjacent to the main street, Tito Street, which was converted into a park, and the iron railing was replaced by a hedge.

This graveyard is certainly older than the mosque itself, since in 1557 the founder of the mosque, Ali-pasha, was buried here. In addition, several pairs of shahid (martyr’s) nišan tombstones show how ancient the graveyard is.

Mujezinović recorded thirty nišans in this harem, of which 13 had epitaphs. The harem now contains fifty nišans, fifteen of which have epitaphs. To the left of the mosque is a row of ten or so nišans that were obviously placed there at a later date. It is not known whether they belonged to the formerly larger harem of this mosque and were moved there when part of the harem was turned into a park of whether they were moved here from some other harem(s).

The nišans of Ajni-dedo and Šemsi-dedo, which had been located in a separate turbe across Ali-pašina Mosque, were moved here. In addition to these, the nišan of Dženetića Mustaf-beg was brought here from the Ćemaluša Mosque.

The nišan of Ali-paša has also been moved from its original position.

Of all the nišans in the graveyard, a pair of nišans with a characteristic cap and signs on all four sides of both the headstone and the footstone merit particular attention. The headstone nišan has a pointed cap with stripes, which is folded at both ends. Two rosettes are incised on one wider side and two rosettes with a crescent moon and a hand are incised on the opposite side. A bow and arrow are incised on one narrow side and a nadžak (a long-handled blade with a hammer-shaped mace at the end of the handle) is incised on the opposite side. The foot nišan, which ends in a pyramidal shape, has two birds facing one another incised on one side, and three rosettes and an animal with a coiled tail (the head has been knocked off) on the opposite side. A single rosette is incised on one narrower side and a rosette and a sword above it are incised on the opposite side. The nišans are one metre in height.

Kemura wrote the following about the nišan:

“To the left towards the road is a strange nišan without tarih, and folk tales have it that the Tartar Shah’s son was buried here, who fell during the conquest of Sarajevo.’’

There is a large plinth above the tomb of the founder of the Ali-pasha Mosque, with a closed sarcophagus on it, made of dressed stone slabs with two nišans and a turban with folds of fine workmanship.




A copy of the text of inscription is preserved by Kemura but he did not write a description of the tombstone where it was carved. Script: ordinary small naskh.

‘’The purpose of visiting a grave is prayer (Dua).

What I am today you will be tomorrow.

Late and deceased Shaikh Mustafa, son of Mustafa,


(Recite) Fatiha for his soul.

Written on the twenty seventh honourable month of


One thousand two hundred and nine.’’

(18 May 1795)

It is likely that this Shaikh Mustafa was an imam of the Ali-pasha Mosque.




The tombstone with this inscription has a čatal-turban. The inscription is in prose, in the Turkish language, incised in five lines.

‘’Al-Fatiha. Deceased and passed away imam Ibrahim-efendija, son of Mustafa. Year 1218’’ (1803/1804)

This Ibrahim-efendi was no doubt an imam of the Ali-pasha Mosque. 


            Behdžet, son of Mehmed-aga Mutevelić and Abdulah (Avdo), son of Salih Sumbul, were buried in a separate mausoleum next to tge Ali-pasha Mosque. They died in Arad in 1915 and their mortal remains were brought to Sarajevo and buried in the mausoleum.

The mausoleum stands at the right corner next to the entrance to the mosque harem. It is made of stone, built of the same limestone as the mosque and in shape resembles the mosque portico. It measures 3.50 x 3.50 m and rests on a concrete base approx. 50 cm in height. The structure consists of four massive stone columns supporting arched walls that support a dome. The columns are treated almost in the same manner as the columns of the mosque portico and consist of a base, shaft and capital with rich ornaments. The pointed arches on all four sides of mausoleum and the dome clad with sheet metal are very harmonious.  Inside the mausoleum are two large stone sarcophagi with the nišans and epitaphs of Behdžet Mutevelić (1897-1915) and Avdo Sumbul (1885—1915), Gajret activists who died in the dungeons of Arad.




The nišan with this epitaph was located in a separate turbe opposite the Ali-pasha Mosque, and is now in the courtyard of the mosque. The head nišan, which is 95 cm in height and measures 17 x 17 cm in section, has a turban of a dervish of the Naqshabandiyyah order and an epitaph consisting of a poem incised on two sides in the Turkish language. Script: jali naskh.

اه من الموت بو در كاهك دريدر باب جنت  يا تور بونده شه ملك ولاية  نديمي حضرت سلطان فاتح  غزا اييكه قلدي دلاله  هدايت اينه سنده عين ذاتي  الفاتحة  تجلي نامنه قلدي هوية  دريدر ذات باكي روحنه سنده  غزا يولنده جون بولدي شهادت  جوطي ايتدن دلا هفت اسمان  بجو تاريخش از درياي رحمت سنة 866


’Oh, death.

The door of this dergah is the door to paradise,

As the ruler of the kingdom of God’s

pleasure rests here.

He is a friend of His Majesty the Sultan

Whom he advised on the rules of battle.


His personality, seeking to reflect

in the mirror of God’s advice, united with


And his pure person is in the tomb,

Because he died as a martyr in battle.

Heart, when you fly over the seven heavens,

Seek a chronogram of his death in the sea of

God’s grace.

Year 866.’’ (1461/62)




The tombstone with this inscription was also originally located in the turbe. The head nišan, which is 95 cm in height and measures 17 x 17 cm in section, has a turban of a dervish of the Naqshbandiyyah order, and the following verse epitaph incised on two sides in the Turkish language. Script: jali naskh.


الفاتحة جهان قصر كه سخته ست بنياد  درين منزل همه ارام بر باد  بيا ايده جو اقكاه شمس دانشته  كراماتش مبر دل  هيج از ياد  اذان ميشد زيارتكاه اقطاب  اه من الموت  فقيهي كوشهيدا خير جهاد  حقيقة شاه و اهل نقشيه  بغلش شاه فاتح كرده ارشاد  بنج شرط دين تاريخش افتاد  جو در راه شهيدي جان ميدار  سنه 866


’The palace of this world has insecure foundations,

any rest in this world is of

no avail.

Having reached the resting place of the sun of knowledge,

Do not avert your heart from its revelations.

From this position where great people of the world

go on pilgrimage,

A martyr of the best army gives advice.

He is a true ruler of the advance party.

His mule led Fatih’s army.

The five pillars of the faith give the chronogram of

his death:

He gave his soul on the path of martyrdom, though.

Year 866 (1461/62)

Ajni-dedo and Šemsi-dedo’s nišans would be the oldest dated nišans in Sarajevo and indeed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. However, the two epitaphs in their present form could have been added somewhat later, that is in the early seventeenth century, when the turbe where these two shahids (martyrs) had been buried was renovated. There is a petition in verse by the famous Sarajevo poet Muhamed Nerkesi, also the author of the two epitaphs. The shape of the tombstone bears evidence that the epitaphs are a later addition.  

As noted above above, Ajni-dedo and Šemsi-dedo were buried in a separate turbe in Tito street opposite the Ali-pasha mosque, just outside the present-day Institute of Public Health. In 1950 the turbe was pulled down and the two nišans were brought to the courtyard of the Ali-pasha Mosque. The turbe was known as Gaziler-turbe (heroes’ turbe). It was a simple building built of wood and ćerpić (unbaked brick) covered with ćeremit (hollow tiles). There were two wooden kubura (sarcophagi) with nišans in the turbe.


Also buried in the graveyard of the Ali-pasha Mosque are:

5. Man’s nišan with turban, measuring 22 x 22 x 166 cm, on a stone sarcophagus measuring 134 x 243 x 94 cm, without epitaph.  According to accounts by members of the jamaat (congregation) of the mosque, this could be the grave of the founder of the mosque, Ali pasha.

6. Simple nišan in the form of a stele, measuring 35 x 16 x 72 cm, with the followingn epitaph:

مرحومه امهانه بنت الحاج مصطفي علمدار روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1262 م 9

Umihana, forgiven be she, daughter of Mustafa bajraktar (standard-bearer).  Fatiha for her soul. 1262, 9 Muharram.

7. Man’s nišan with pleated turban. Only the turban is visible above ground.

8. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 17 x 16 x 80 cm.

هذا قبر حاجي ابراهيم ...... روحيجون الفاتحة سنه 1292

This is the grave of Ibrahim . . . [damaged].  Fatiha for his soul. 1292 (1875/76).

(M. Mujezinović, p. 404, list of names of those buried in the harem of this mosque.  This is Hajji Ibrahim, son of Hajji Ahmed Odobašić.)

9. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 30 x 12 x 35 cm, overgrown by the hedge.  All that can be made out is the year 1286 (1869/70).

10. Man’s nišan with a pleated turban.  Only the turban is visible above ground.

11. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, overgrown by the hedge. It has an epitaph, but it is impossible to get to the epitaph in order to read it.

12. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 33 x 12 x 100 cm, overgrown by the hedge.

اه من الموت المرحومه و المغفوره لها فاطمه خاتون بنت الحاج علي ... روحيجون الفاتحه سنه 1245 م 9

O death.  Fatima-khatun, may she be forgiven and pardoned, daughter of Alija . . . Fatiha for her soul.  1245, 9 Muharram (11 July 1829).

13.  Man’s nišan with unusual cap, measuring 26 x 26 x 104 cm, with no epitaph.  On the front of the nišan a hand, crescentmoon and two rosettes are incised, on the right is an incised axe, and on the left a bow and arrow.  The footstone, terminating in a pyramid shape, has two birds facing one another incised on one side and three rosettes and an animal with a coiled tail on the other.

14.  Man’s nišan with čatal-turban, measuring 23 x 23 x 150 cm.  The footstone is round in cross-section.

زيارتدن مراد اولان بوكون بكا ايسه يارين سكا در المرحوم و المغفور الامام الشيخ مصطفي بن مصطفي روحلر ايجون الفاتحة حرر في اليوم سابع و العشرين من شوال المكرم لسنة تسع و مائتين و الف

The purpose of visiting a grave is Du’a (prayer).  What I am today, you will be tomorrow. Imam Shaikh Mustafa, may he be forgiven and pardoned.  Fatiha for his soul.  Written on 27 of the noble month of Shawwal 1209 (18 May 1795).

15. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 37 x 11 x 70 cm, with no epitaph.

16. Man’s nišan with čatal-turban, square in section 19.5 x 19.5 cm and 98 cm in height.

الفاتحة المرحوم و المغفور الامام ابراهيم افندي بن مصطفي افندي روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1218

Fatiha.  Ibrahim efendi, son of Mustafa efendi, may he be pardoned and forgiven. Fatiha for his soul. 1218(1803/1804).

17. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 19 x 21 x 106 cm, with no epitaph.

18. Man’s nišan with turban, measuring 18.5 x 18 x 146cm.  One side of the nišan has a fine incised floral decoration.

انما يوبي الصابرون   زمره اشرافدن ايدي بو جنتيك نام بنام   اسم حاجي مصطفي بك ابن فيظ الله اغا   جدي اسماعيل بكك هب روحلريينه خير دعا   جد اعلاسي بو بوسنه فتح ايله ايتدي غزا   عمريني يتمشدن تجاوز ايدي بو ذات محارم   علميله عامل سزادر رحمت مولا خدا   سويلدي راقم وفاتن نظميله تاريخ تام   جنتي فردوس ماوي ده مقامي مصطفي   سنة 1291 في 221 را

Those who patiently endure will truly be rewarded. This famous Dženetić belonged to a guild, his name was Hajji Mustafa-beg, son of Fejzulah-aga, grandson of Ismail-beg, may fine prayers reach all of them.  His distant ancestor fought during the conquest of Bosnia, and the honoured Mustafa-beg lived for more than seventy years.  He behaved according to the precepts of Islam, and merits God’s mercy.  Rakim expressed this tarih for him in verse: “ May jannat firdaus [Arabic and Persian words for paradise] be an abode for Mustafa.” 21 Rabi’ al Awwal 1291 (8 May 1874).

            The nišan of Dženetić Mustafa-beg was brought to this harem from the Čemaluša mosque.

19. Man’s nišan with large pleated turban, measuring 20 x 20 x 108 cm, with no epitaph.  The turban is 156 cm in circumference.

20. Man’s nišan with large pleated turban, measuring 23 x 23 x 137 cm, with no epitaph. The turban is 153 cm in circumference.

21. Small man’s nišan with turban, measuring 17 x 12 x 56 cm, with no epitaph.

22. Man’s nišan with turban with protuberances to the right and left.  The nišan has no epitaph, and measures 30 x 20 x 145 cm.

23. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 36 x 11 x 58 cm.

هو الباقي اوجنجراردن هما....اركانندن بوسنه و هرسك فرقه صكريه قوياندن سادنكر احمد حمدي باشا حضرتلره ...

He is the Eternal.

24. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 35 x 12 x 90 cm.

اه من الموت طوبي لمن رجي منه يزدان المرحومه و المغفوره حاج قيه بنت ابراهيم روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1257 في    11 ر          

O death.  Blessed be he who trusts in God.  Hajji Kija, may she be pardoned and forgiven, daughter of Ibrahim.  Fatiha for her soul. 1257, 11 Rabi’ al Awwal (2 May 1841).

25. Man’s nišan with turban, measuring 14 x 14 x 58 cm; sunk into the ground.

26. Man’s nišan with turban, sunk into the ground, measuring 17 x 16 x 58 cm.

27. Man’s nišan with dervish’s turban, measuring 18 x 18 x68 cm. No epitaph.

28. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 21 x 20 x 98 cm.  No epitaph.

29. Man’s nišan with dervish’s turban, measuring 20.5 x 20.5 x 110 cm. No epitaph.

30. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 20 x 20 x 67 cm.  No epitaph.

31. Man’s nišan with aga’s turban, measuring 19 x 23 x 76 cm.

32. Man’s nišan with čatal-turban, measuring 24 x 24 x 90 cm.

اه من الموت زيارتد مراد اولان دعا در بوكون بنا ايسه يارين سكا المرحوم والمغفور له مصطفي....

O death. The purpose of visiting a grave is Du’a (prayer).  What I am today, you will be tomorrow.  Mustafa, may he be pardoned and forgiven (the remainder of the epitaph is underground).

33. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 20 x 19 x 120 cm.

اه من الموت الموت شراب كل الناس شاربه و القبر باب كل الناس داخله المرحوم والمغفور له اودوباشازاده الحاج مصطفي علمدار بن عبدي روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1237

O death. All shall drink of the beverage of death, the grave is a passage through which all shall pass. Odobašić hajji Mustafa, may he be pardoned and forgiven, bajraktar (standard-bearer), son of Avdija.  Fatiha for his soul. 1237 (1822).

34.Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 32 x 12 x 54 cm, with no pitaph.

35.Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 20 x 20 x 100 cm.

المرحوم و المغفور يماق حسين روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1221

Jamak Husein, may he be pardoned and forgiven.  Fatiha for his soul. 1221 (1806/1807)

36.Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 17 x 18 x 68 cm, with no epitaph.

37.Man’s nišan with turban, measuring 37 x 24 x 155 cm, with no epitaph.  This is an old nišan

of simple workmahship, with projections on the side of nišan.  The footstone in the shape of a stele measures 44 x 25 x 182 cm.

38. Stone stele measuring 60 x 20 x 68 cm.

39. Stone stele measuring 55 x 15 x 71 cm.

40. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 30 x 20 x 94 cm.

41. Stone stele with crescent moon and two protuberances on each side, measuring 48 x 22 x 102 cm.

42. Stone stele with two protuberances on each side, measuring 44 x 21 x 70 cm.

43. Stone stele measuring 37 x 12 x 73 cm.

44. Stone stele with crescent moon and protuberance, measuring 48 x 30 x 70 cm.  The footstone in the form of a stele (or possibly this is a separate nišan) measures 57 x 26 x 145 cm.

45. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 20 x 20 x 104 cm.

المرحوم و المغفور له صراج عبد الحامد علمدار روحيجون الفاتحة سنة 1064 ر ج 27

Saddler Abdulhamid, alemdar, may he be pardoned and forgiven. Fatiha for his soul. 1065, 27 Rajab (13 June 1654).

46. Stone stele measuring 36 x 24 x 150 cm.  Footstone in the form of a stele, measuring 42 x 23 x 150 cm.

47.Man’s nišan with turban, of simple workmanship, measuring 50 x 30 x 180 cm. The footstone in the form of a stele measures 44 x 33 x 155 cm.

48.Man’s nišan with dervish’s turban, measuring 28 x 17 x 104 cm, with no epitaph.

49. Simple nišan in the shape of a stele, measuring 36 x 14 x 102 cm, with no epitaph.

50. Man’s nišan with pleated turban, measuring 38 x 20 x 130 cm, with no epitaph.



A copy of the chronograph is found in Kreševljaković’s book Vodovodi (p. 38) which says that the stone plaque with this inscription is in the National Museum. However, we have not found it there. According to Kreševljaković, the inscription had five couplets, but only the following two ones were read as the plaque was broken and therefore the inscription was illegible.

‘’Hilmija, I congratulate you (for building the drinking-fountain)

with my entire tarih:

Come, ye thirsty, water has started flowing from Idadija Fountain.

1291’’ (1874)

There used to be a military lower school known as Idadija (opened in 1837) on the site where the building of the former Railways Directorate stood.  In 1874 a fountain was installed beside it, and was named Idadija after the school. This is the largest such fountain to be built in Sarajevo during the Turkish period (Mujezinović, 1998, p. 402-408).

The drinking-fountain is made of stone and is situated at the entrance to the Ali-pasha Mosque. It was set on flagstones with a drainpipe so the water from the fountain can run off at all times. It consists of two parts: a lower part in the shape of a semicircle divided into seven fruit sections, each with a pipe through which water flows, and an upper part in the shape of a pyramid. There are two moulded stone string courses where the upper and lower parts meet.     


3. Legal status to date

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, no. 697/50 of 1950, the Ali-pash Mosque was placed under state protection.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of the People’s Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, no. 02-625-3 of 1962,  the Ali-pasha Mosque was entered on the register of immovable cultural monuments.

The Regional Plan of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 lists the Ali-pasha Mosque in Sarajevo as a 0 category monument.

The Ali-pasha Mosque in Sarajevo is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under number 503. 


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

In 1884 the restoration of the mosque was carried out under the supervision of the Zagreb-based architect Ćiril Iveković.  There are no precise details of the works carried out at that time.

The most recent renovation was carried out from April to July 2004, in line with the Ali-pasha Mosque Sarajevo Project, Reconnaissance project, drawn up by the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historic and Natural Heritage, Sarajevo, in 2003. Amer Sulejmanagić was the project designer, and also supervised works on the renovation of the Ali-pasha Mosque.

The following works were carried out:

-     The old sheet-copper and underlay were replaced on the domes, hipped roofs, flashings and minaret;

-     damaged stone blocks were replaced;

-     the entire façade was cleaned and washed;

-     the wall was injected at the point where it was cracked ( above the mihrab).


5. Current condition of the monument

            An inspection on the site in December 2004 provided the following findings:

The Ali-pasha Mosque is in a relatively good condition.  Works on the exterior of the building are almost complete, apart from those on the lower part of the minaret, where damage can  be seen.

In the interior, stains can be seen on the walls of the mosque.



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 is based on the following criteria:

A. Time frame

B. Historical value

C. Artistic and esthetic value

C.i. Quality of workmanship

C.ii. Proportions,

C.iii Composition,

C.iv Value of details,

C.v. Value of construction.

D. Clarity

D.iv. Evidence of a type, style or regional manner

D.v. Evidence of a typical style 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 and rites,

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.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:

-     Copy of cadastral plan

-     Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-     Photodocumentation;

-     Drawings

The documentation annexed to the Decision is public and available for view by interested persons on written request to the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.




1911    Jnl of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina (XXIII, Kemura, Šejh Sejfudin, Sarajevske džamije i druge javne zgrade u tursko doba (Sarajevo’s mosques and other public buildings in the Turkish period), LI. Hadim Ali pašina džamija na gornjim Hisetima (Hadim Ali-pasha Mosque in upper Hiseta), Sarajevo, 1911.


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.


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 - 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.


1997     Kurto, Nedžad, Sarajevo 1562-1992, Printing and Publishing House, Sarajevo, 1997


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


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.


2003    Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historic and Natural Heritage  Sarajevo, Ali-pasha Mosque in Sarajevo, Reconnaissance project, Sarajevo, 2003.


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


(1) The restoration works by architect Ćiril Iveković dating from 1884 reveal the intervention of a scholar who set his creativity to one side so as to accentuate the objective value of the building. He perceived clearly that the building was formulated to a simple principle: one space, one structure.  To make the architectural «seams» stand out more, he removed the plaster and emphasized the structural form as the fundamental element of the architectural entity.  All the pure geometric forms are accentuated on this building in perfect harmony where nothing can be either added or removed (Kurto, 1997, p. 38)

(2) All dimensions given in the text were taken from: Ali-pasha Mosque Sarajevo, Reconnaissance Project, prepared by the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo, 2003.






Bijela (White) mosque, the architectural ensemble The architectural ensemble of the Ali-pasha mosque Ali-pasha mosque <i>Turbe</i>
Fountain  Entrance facadeNorth-east facadeSouth-west facade
EntranceDetails of the pillarInterior of the mosque<i>Mahfil</i>
<i>Mihrab</i> and <i>mimber</i>   

BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: