Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Turali-bey’s mosque with a graveyard and turbe, 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 15 to 21 March 2005 the Commission adopted a






The architectural ensemble of the Poljska (Turalibeg) mosque with burial ground and turbe in Tuzla 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 nos. 572, 573 and 574, cadastral municipality Tuzla II, Municipality Tuzla, 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, the following protection zones are hereby stipulated:

Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision. In this protection zone the following measures shall apply:

  • all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  • all protection works, regardless of their type and extent, must be carried out in such a way as to ensure that the integrity of the property is preserved and that its complexity is presented as far as possible without detriment to the integrity of the property,
  • in selecting the dominant stratum to be presented, the most recent form of the building shall be preserved and protected,
  • all archaeological artifacts that may be found shall be suitably conserved and presented within the architectural ensemble in a manner that shall not be to the detriment of the integrity of the mosque,
  • the relocation of the mains water supply and abdesthana from the mosque to a separate building that shall not be detrimental in size or form to the architectural ensemble.

Protection Zone II consists of the plots adjacent to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision.  In this zone the provisions of the Regulatory Plan for the subsidence area in Tuzla dated June1989 shall apply.




            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 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 VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




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




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. 750.




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


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


No. 09-2-129/04-4

16 March 2005


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 architectural ensemble of the Poljska (Turalibeg) mosque in Tuzla is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under serial no. 750.

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




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

  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.
  • The currentn condition of the property
  • Copy of cadastral plan
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


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


1. Details of the property



            The architectural ensemble of the Poljska (Turalibeg) mosque with burial ground and turbe in Tuzla is in Turalibeg street in the former Turalibeg mahala, now forming part of the area known as Old Urban Area, on c.p. nos. 572, 583 and 574, c.m. Tuzla II, Municipality Tuzla, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Historical information

            Archaeological investigations have demonstrated that the Tuzla area has been continuously inhabited since the new Stone Age, 5000 years ago, to the present day, although the earliest documentary reference to Tuzla dates from 950, in Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De administrando imperio.  According to Dr. Adem Handžić (Tuzla i njena okolina u XVI vijeku [Tuzla and environs in the 16th century], p. 166), the Turks conquered the region in about 1460, though the earliest reference to Tuzla in Turkish sources is in the 1468 census.

            The town of Tuzla took shape in the spirit of a traditional Turkish town, and by 1548 a total of five residential areas or mahalas had come into being:

  1. Džamijska (mosque) mahala,
  2. Timur-hojja’s mahala,
  3. Isa-beg’s mahala,
  4. Mahala of hisarija Ferhad,
  5. Mahala of subaša (estate manager) Alija.

            Typically, there is no reference to Turali-beg’s mahala, to which the earliest reference dates from c. 1600, as a mahala that had taken shape in the plains area and was thus also known as Poljska mahala (from polje, a plain or field). The Turali-beg mahala was named for Turalibeg’s mosque, built by Turali-beg prior to February 1572, when his vakufnama (deed of perpetual endowment) was notarized, probably in Čačak, at the end of Ramadan 979 AH (c. 15 February 1572).

Turali-beg erected a number of buildings in Tuzla and endowed them for the maintenance of the mosque. Turali-beg was presumably a native of Tuzla, and held the senior post of Sandžak-beg (governor) in the Smederevo, Srem and Zvornik sandžaks. Turali-beg’s vakufnama has survived both in its original form and in translation into the local language, one of the few to survive.

            The rest of Tuzla’s mosques fell victim to the fires that destroyed much of the settlement in 1548.  Fires were a regular occurrence, since salt extraction from the region’s salt pits was carried out over open hearths.  Thanks to its location in the plain outside the main settlement, the Turalibeg mosque was undamaged by these fires and retained its original appearance right up to 1890, when the Austro-Hungarian authorities carried out extensive works on the building.   The reason for these major works in 1890 is unknown, since there is no known surviving documentary evidence.  The mosque presumably stood in a small depression, and that year the soil level was built up by some 1.50 m.  The likely reason for this was the laying of modern roads in the area.  This led to the need to reconstruct the mosque so that it could still be used.  The portico, visible on drawings of the building prior to these works, had to be demolished.  The ground floor row of windows had to be walled up, and the floor level raised by some 1.50 m. The entrance, with its portal, had to be raised correspondingly. To replace the walled-up windows, new ones were pierced, necessitating the elimination of the upper row of original windows. The changes also necessitated raising the height of the walls by about 1.50 m, after demolishing the old, original roof.  The new walls were built of stone, without a terminal belt course, but with the metal tie beams typical of Austro-Hungarian construction. Raising the floor was preceded by the demolition of the mimber and mahfil, while the mihrab had to be raised to the new floor level.  A hipped roof frame was set on the newly-raised walls, with an interior dome and cladding of plain tiles. Outside the mosque, a wooden portico with a three-paned roof was erected; this was demolished after World War II.  Visually, the minaret appears to have been reduced in height by the earthing-up.

            A specific cause of changes to the building was the exploitation of the salt deposits below the city by leaching out salt pits.  Extraction began in 1885, and led to subsidence, first noted as early as 1907.  At this time it was insignificant and had no after-effects. From 1979 onwards, the subsidence was of considerable extent, covering 9,291 m. The most serious subsidence was in 1983, amounting to 1.10 m.  This subsidence had an effect on the Turalibeg mosque, visible in the uneven floor, but was much more pronounced in its impact on the minaret of the mosque as a vertical feature.  Measurements were taken regularly until 1992 in the subsidence area, including on this mosque, showing that the minaret of the mosque was off the perpendicular by 30 cm at the top of the wall and by 42 cm at the alem.  The minaret leans towards the mosque building.

            To prevent the mosque collapsing, work was carried out on the building, adding tie beams at ground level, midway up the walls and at the top of the walls. The addition of these tie beams protected the mosque, and were the last interventions carried out to the building.  The mosque was undamaged during the 1992-95 war.

            In the burial ground or harem of the mosque, in the immediate vicinity of the mosque building itself, is a turbe or mausoleum, though it is not known who is buried there. Some authorities claim that Shaikh Abdurahman was buried there at some unknown date. From the level of the floor and entrance, which is the same as that of present-day Turalibeg street, it may safely be said that the turbe was built in about 1890 when the ground level was built up.

            There must have been a fountain-abdesthana (for ritual ablutions) by the mosque, but there are no signs of this on the ground. There is documentary evidence, however, that at some unknown date water was piped to the Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque from the spring at Pašina glava in Slina.


2. Description of the property


The Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque belongs to the type of single-space mosque with front mahfil. It has a hipped roof and a stone minaret. The ceiling is flat and has an interior dome, a specific feature of this building. There is no portico-sofa.  The building is not currently in use. The mosque measures 12.05 x 19.96 m.

            The entrance to the mosque is from the north-west, from Turalibeg street. The portal of the mosque is adjusted to the level of the interior prayer space. The portal has a pronounced moulded stone frame, in which there is a part executed in brick, so that it is hard to say what the height of the original portal was. However, the upper section, with its graduated stalactite-decorated upper part, may be regarded as authentic. The recess for the plaque bearing the tarih (chronogram) is missing, and the existing one is of more recent date. The stone blocks of the portal have thick joints pointed with lime-cement mortar and are not bonded to the wall, which all suggests that the portico has been moved.  There are traces of painting on the portal.

            The mihrab has no projecting surround. The lower sections are of brick, and the upper parts and arch of the niche are of stone. The arched section of the niche is divided by height into five zones of which the lowest consists of a shallow semicircular niche, following by two with no moulded decoration. The fourth has a decoration of triangles, and the final zone is much raised, with a shallow niche. Apart from having been raised to the new floor level, the mihrab was probably made more austere in appearance by the removal of the decoration on the second and third zones. It was painted.

            The remainder of the interior is of more recent date.  Water and drainage were installed in the northern corner of the mosque to provide an abdesthana.       In the interior, measuring 10.05 x 9.97, the carefully executed interior dome dating from the 1890 reconstruction stands out. It is not known whether this was adopted from the original building.  The painted decoration on the plaster surface was carried out using stencils.  It is possible that the original decoration has survived on the now buried sections of the walls.  The walls are 1.00 m thick, and are of cut stone in lime mortar in the original sections of the building, with lime cement mortar used on the raised sections of the walls.

            All the facades now lack plaster, which was removing during research and conservation-restoration works in 1997; this plaster dated from the 1890 reconstruction. More recently the facades were treated with hyrofoam.  The removal of the plaster from the facades led to the discovery of authentic sections of the original windows.  Most of these original windows were uncovered on the north-western entrance facade. The lower row of windows (of the normal two rows, upper and lower) are now largely below the present ground level and are walled up to the level of the bearing of the arched lintel, from which level begins the new lower row of windows pierced in 1890, when the authentic upper windows were done away with. All that was discovered was the pointed Islamic arch of an upper window, which had been walled up. On the other facades all that was discovered were minor undisturbed fragments of the original lower and upper windows.  Parts of the walls of the original building are clearly visible on all the facades, along with the raised sections dating from the 1890 reconstruction. The building has a hipped roof clad with plain tiles.

            The polygonal minaret is the most valuable surviving feature of the original building, although ”shortened” by the part that is now buried.  The pedestal of the minaret is decagonal, and partly tangential to the mosque wall. An oblique polygonal section forms the transition to the fourteen-sided shaft of the minaret, terminating in the console of the šerefe, with no decorative mouldings, executed in the form of symmetrical rings. The lower ring is convex and the upper concave in section. The parapet has a lower and upper frieze with no moulded surface decoration. The final section of the minaret is of poorer masonry workmanship with no moulded decoration. The minaret is made of cut stone blocks with ashlar visible surfaces of fine-grained sedimentary sandstone.

            On the outer surfaces, particularly to the north-east, below the šerefe, there is now visible flaking and superficial disintegration of the stone blocks, which presents no danger to the stability of the minaret; similarly, though the minaret is visibly leaning, this has not resulted in cracks to the pointing. There are interventions using cement mortar to be seen on the parapet of the šerefe, and the section of the minaret above the šerefe is probably not from the authentic, original minaret.  The join of the wall and the size of the blocks do not match the shaft of the minaret, while on the inside there is a reinforcement of reinforced concrete screening 5-10 cm thick over the entire height.  The usual terminal cornice with shallow niches below is absent. During this intervention it was necessary to remove the original cone, so that the present-day cone with its mast is of more recent construction, and is clad with sheet copper.

            The burial ground or harem of the Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque surrounds the mosque, running from Turalibeg street and Klosters street and the cul-de-sac Prolaz, and the fast-food restaurant. The harem was formerly more spacious, with many graves and corresponding nišan tombstones.  All that now survives is one old grave with nišan tombstones lacking any epitaph, by the eastern corner of the mosque. Three graves of more recent date are located right by the entrance to the mosque. All the rest of the harem is now arranged as a park with an asphalt path to the south-east of the mosque.

            The turbe, the occupant of which is unknown, and in regard to which representatives of the Majlis (Council) of the Islamic Community of Tuzla even claim that no one is buried there, has no nišan tombstones.  It stands in the harem by the entrance to the mosque, by Turalibeg street.  It was probably built in 1890 by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, for reasons unknown. The type of construction and treatment of the exterior and interior wall surfaces, as well as the floor level, which corresponds to the level of Turalibeg street, clearly indicate the time at which it was built; the passage of time has, however, given it a degree of value as a monument. The walls are of stone, ashlar on the exterior and plastered and whitewashed on the inside, with a flat, plastered ceiling.  The roof cladding is asbestos tiles on a timber frame. The entrance door is metal, the windows wooden with metal grilles on the outside.  The exterior dimensions of the turbe are 4.60 x 4.60 m, the height to the eaves 4.10 m, the interior dimensions 3.46 x 3.46 m, and the walls are 1.15 m thick.  The turbe constitutes a significant feature within the architectural ensemble, and merits the same care as the mosque.  It should be noted that the turbe has survived in its original condition.


3. Legal status to date


Neither the Turalibeg mosque nor the harem, nor the turbe, have enjoyed legal protection as cultural monuments.

The Regulatory Plan for the subsidence area in Tuzla, Old Urban Area, as a protected cultural and historical heritage area covered by the Regulatory Plan, treats the old Tuzla čaršija as Zone I or a primary protection zone, and the remainder of the historic centre of the city as Zone II or a secondary protection zone.  In addition to these two zones, the Regulatory Plan protects buildings outside these zones, including the Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque and turbe.

            The Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque in Tuzla was on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina under serial no. 750.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works


Various works have been carried out on the Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque, which cannot be regarded as conservation or restoration works. In 1890 the Austro-Hungarian authorities carried out extensive works of reconstruction and raising the height of the walls of the building.  Later, when subsidence occurred, various works were carried out designed to reinforce the building structurally to prevent the appearance of cracks and stop the building caving in.  These works were executed to a high standard and prevented the building from collapsing.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to prevent the vertical feature of the minaret, which is 27.50 m high, from tilting from the perpendicular, though this has not resulted in its falling.

In 1997 initial conservation and restoration investigations were carried out on the  Turalibeg (Poljska) mosque as the initial stage of conservation and restoration works.  The research works were carried out by a team of experts from the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH in association with Tuzla Municipality and the Town Planning Institute of Tuzla, a public corporation. 

On the basis of the findings of these research works, a study was drawn up on the condition of the building with the proposed next steps, to draw up a project of historical restoration and a project for current use, together with guidelines for future contractors dealing with the spatial treatment of the wider area. However, since the study has been adopted, no further steps have been taken.

After the completion of the research works, Turkish architects and conservators drew up a Project for the restoration of the mosque (OYLUM).


5. Current condition of the property


After completion of the research works, the property was left with sounding appartus from various dates visible on the facade.  No conservation and restoration works were carried out, as a result of which the integrity of the property has been undermined and some parts are at risk.


6. Specific risks


The terrain on which the mosque was built is subject to subsidence, caused by the long-term extraction of salt water.




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.ii. quality of materials

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical change

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

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.iii. use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

H. Rarity and representativity

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

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence


            The following photodocumentation and drawings form an integral part of this Decision:

  1. Turalibeg’s vakufnama (deed of endowment) dated 1572;
  2. Drawing by W. Leo Arndt dated 1878;
  3. Ground plan, cross section and elevation, 1940;
  4. Photographs of the mosque taken in 1940;
  5. Photographs of the mosque taken in 1997;
  6. Photographs of the architectural ensemble taken in 2004.


  1. Copy of cadastral plan with protection zones;
  2. Blueprints of the mosque circa 1980 (site plan, ground plan, cross section A-A, elevations);
  3. Blueprints of the turbe and pent roof at the entrance to the mosque, 2004




During the procedure to designate the property as a national monument, the following works were consulted:


1941.    H. Kreševljaković: "Turalibegov vakuf u Tuzli" (Turalibeg’s vakuf in Tuzla); Contribution to the history of the 16th century, Sarajevo 1941.


1975.    A. Handžič: "Tuzla i njena okolina u XVI vijeku" (Tuzla and its Environs in the 16th century), Sarajevo 1975.


1987.    D. Trifković: "Tuzlanski vremeplov" (Tuzla’s timewarp) Bks I-IV, Belgrade-Tuzla 1981-1987.


1966.    Dž. Čilimković: "Tuzla u osmansko doba" (Tuzla in the Ottoman Period), Tuzla 1966.


1989.    Regulatory Plan for the subsidence area in Tuzla, Area – old urban area, Municipal Town Planning Institute, Tuzla 1989.


1997.    Turalibeg mosque, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Projected research and conservation/restoration works 1997, Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo 1997

Turali-bey’s mosque Turali-bey’s mosque, archival photoTurali-bey’s mosque, drawing of original appearance, W.Leo Arndta Turbe and Turali-bey’s mosque
Entrance facadeTurbeInterior of the mosqueInterior of the mosque - dome

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