Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Bijela (White) 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 15 to 22 March 2005 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the White Mosque (Divan katib Hajdar mosque) in Sarajevo is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of the mosque, mekteb building, fountain and harem with turbe.

            The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no.2603 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. nos. 1, 2 and 3, MAHALA XCIII Sarajevo (old survey), title sheet no. 2246, Land Register entry no. XCIII/12 and XCIII/52, cadastral municipality Sarajevo II, Municipality Stari Grad 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, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, applicable to area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision:

  • all works are prohibited other than 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),
  • during restoration and conservation works on the building it is essential that its original appearance be retained, with the use of original materials treated in the original manner and using original building methods  
  • on all the adjoining plots bordering on the protected area, the repair and adaptation of existing buildings shall be permitted subject to retaining their existing dimensions and height (all buildings to which repairs and alterations are being carried out must respect the building line of neighbouring buildings at both ground and upper floor levels); the buildings may not clash in proportions or colour-scheme with buildings of townscape value.

To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the building shall be subjected to technical survey, following which a design project for conservation and restoration works shall be drawn up, to include:

  • structural repairs to the roof structure, including replacing the existing roof cladding
  • conservation and restoration works on the sofas of the mosque, using original materials and techniques (treatment of timber, methods of joining components of the structure, use of traditional binders)
  • removal from the building of all elements that are significantly detrimental to its authenticity and have not been executed in a manner that complies with the principles of conservation and restoration
  • the elimination of rising damp from the walls of the building
  • drawing up and implementing a programme for the presentation of the National Monument
  • drawing up and implementing a project to floodlight 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 and rehabilitation 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.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 536.




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: 07.2-2-21/05-4

15 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 Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the White Mosque (Divan katib Hajdar mosque) in Sarajevo to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under serial no. 536.

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 (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)
  • 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 property


            The architectural ensemble of the White Mosque (Divan katib Hajdar mosque) in Sarajevo is in Vratnik, in the mahala of the Divan katib Hajdar masjid.

            The mosque stands on the corner of present-day Bijela česma and Džanina (Kršilovac) streets very close to the Jajce barracks.

            The architectural ensemble comprises c.p. no. 2603 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. nos. 1, 2 and 3, mahala XCIII – Sarajevo (old survey), title sheet no. 2246, Land Register entry no. XCIII/12 and XCIII/52, c.m. Sarajevo II, owned by the Islamic Religious Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Municipality Stari Grad Sarajevo, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

During the late mediaeval period, the territory of the large early mediaeval župa (county) of Vrhbosna was split up into several smaller župas (districts or knežija). Here two natural entities can be distinguished: the Sarajevo plain, and the Miljacka valley, where the centre of the city of Sarajevo lies with its surrounding hillsides to the north and south. Three late mediaeval forts were built there: Teferić above Krupac on the south-eastern edge of the Sarajevo plain, the old fort in Bulozi, and a fort on the site of the present-day White Bastion in Vratnik. 

On the site of the present-day White Bastion in Vratnik was a fortress below which an outlying settlement grew up, in which Ottoman sources of the second half of the 15th century record 8 Dubrovnik households (Bejtić, 1979, 107-148)(1).

After Isa-beg Ishaković, several governors, wealthy merchants and artisans erected various buildings of a religious, social, commercial and cultural nature, which led Sarajevo to become the largest and most important city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly during the 16th century, when the most important architectural creations of the Ottoman period came into being.  Another factor influencing its urban development was its favourable political situation in the Ottoman Empire.  The shifting of the borders northwards contributed to general stabilization in the interior, creating the conditions for the more rapid development of urban settlements.

The number of residential quarters or mahalas in the city (the best indicator of urban development) reveal that the 16th century saw Sarajevo reach the peak of uts urban development.  In the late 15th century the city had three mahalas; by  the end of the 16th century, it had 91.  Another indicator of Sarajevo’s rapid development in the 16th century is the fact that by the beginning of the 17th century, effectively the entire area constituting the urban territory up to the Austro-Hungarian occupation had already been built up.

The Vratnik fort, covering an area of 495.565 m2, consists of 11 mahalas and part of a 12th all of which, to judge from the time when their mosques were built(2), came into being in the 16th century (Traljić, 1937, 8-12,17). These mahalas are:

  1. Gerdani el-Hadži Husein Husejn mehallesi: Mahala Strošići, where the oldest mosque in Vratnik was built in 1473 (Traljić, 1937, 33-34; Bejtić, 1973, 341). 
  2. Topal Einehan mehallesi. Founded before 1528, this was later known as Lubina mahala.  Here the Topal zade hadži Inhanage (Einehana) mosque, known as the Lubina, was built between 1528 and 1557 (Traljić, 1937, 34-36; Bejtić, 1973, 234).
  3. Divani katib mehallesi – hadži Hajdara – White Mosque, built before 1545. Traljić, 1937, 36-40; Bejtić, 1973, 168, 226, 262);
  4. Sinan vojvoda mehallesi mosque, known as Mala džamija (small mosque) or Pod orahom, built before 1552 by the wife of Duke Sinanudin Jusuf (Traljić, 1937, 40 -43; Bejtić, 1973,
  5. Neš-zade el Hadži Husein mehallesi in Dol (Traljić, 1937, 47; Bejtić, 1973, 141).
  6. Hasan Iplidžik mehallesi, known to the locals as Širokac. The Iplidžik Sinan mosque was built before 1565 (Traljić, 1937, 47; Bejtić, 1973, 199).
  7. Kadi Ahmed efendi mehallesiPod Topovima (under the cannon), where the mosque of Ahmed efendija was built in Kršilovcu after 1565. This mosque is known as “Pod Ičkalom”, or “Pod gradom”  (below the fort) (Traljić, 1937, 47; Bejtić, 189).
  8. Havadže-zade el Hadži Mustafa mehallesi – where the mosque Na Musluku was built in 1587 (Traljić, 1937, 43- 44; Bejtić, 1973, 239).
  9. Kasap-zade el hadži Ibrahim mehallesi in Carina, actually in Ispod oraha street, built after 1565 (Traljić, 1937, 44; Skarić, 1937, 76; Bejtić, 1973, 16, 189-190)
  10. Sagr el-Hadži Mahmud mehallesi in Hendek, where a mosque was built after 1565 (Traljić, 1937, 47; Skarić, 1937, 76; Bejtić, 1973, 316).
  11. Mokro–zade el-Hadži Sinan mehallesi in Čebedžije, which began to take shape in the late 16th century.  The mosque of the same name was built on the highest hillock within the Vratnik fort (Traljić, 1937, 46, Bejtić, 1973, 131-132).
  12. Part of Shaikh Muslihudin mehallesi in Ploča (Traljić, 1937, 30; Bejtić, 1973, 16, 301) (Traljić, 1937, 30).

The  White Mosque was built in the immediate vicinity of the present-day Jajce barracks at a date later than 1536 but earlier than 1545 by Gazi Husrev-beg’s divan katib (secretary) Hajji Hajdar efendi, son of Abdulah (Traljić, p. 36).  He lived in Sarač Alija's mahala (Vrbanjuša), and after becoming wealthy built a mosque and a mekteb.  He died in 952 AH (1545) on his way back from Mecca, and is buried in a separate turbe in the harem of the mosque(3). 

It is not known how much Hajdar efendi endowed for the maintenance of his endowment, but an order of his is known requiring 6 juz (sections)(4) of the Qur’an to be recited in his mosque every day.  However, he provided funds for only 2 juz, and the recitation of the remaining 4 was endowed by his brother and transferred to the mutevelija (vakuf administrator) of the vakuf,  Alija, son of Jusuf.  Two shops in Tabaci by the Mošćanica brook are referred to as the vakuf of this mosque. These shops burned down in the great fire that swept through Sarajevo (Traljić, p. 37).

In 1697 one Ahmed is referred to as the imam of this mosque, and a certain Mustafa and Ismail as its muezzins (Traljić, p. 37).

Mula Mustafa Bašeskija refers to one blind Osman who called the azaan from the White minaret for forty years.  He died in 1776  (Traljić, p. 37).

In 1896 the imam of the mosque, Mula Hasan Prozorac, died and was succeeded by his brother Mula Jusuf. In the early 20th century the imam of the mosque was Abdulah ef. Fočak (Traljić, p. 37). 

In 1874 a timber clock tower was built alongside the mosque, and the old clock from Gazi Husrev-beg’s clock tower was installed in it.  Since the tower swayed in high winds, the inhabitants of the surrounding mahalas demolished it, fearing it might fall and injure someone (Kreševljaković, 1991, p. 496.).

According to Traljić, the Divan Katib Hajdar efendi girls’ mekteb stood in the harem of the White Mosque.  The earliest information on this dates from 1697.  Prior to that year, the muallim (teacher) of this mosque was Hasan Sufi. Since the funds earmarked for the maintenance of the mekteb had all been spent, application was made to Istanbul to provide the part of the funds from which the muallim would be paid.

In the mid 19th century the muallim of the mekteb was Hafiz Hamša, daughter of Mula Abdija Karalić, who taught the children until 1274 AH (1858).  She was replaced by the imam of the mosque, Mula Hasan Prozorac, who died in 1869.  He was succeeded by Hajji Hafiz Mustafa Luledžija. The mekteb was closed down in 1878.

During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the building was shelled and extensive damage was inflicted on the roof structure, walls and minaret, which took a direct hit above the šerefe, when the entire roof structure of the minaret was burned out.


2. Description of the property

There is access to the harem (courtyard) of the Divan katib Hajdar mosque or White Mosque in Sarajevo from both the north, from Džinina street, and the south, from Bijela džamija (White Mosque) street.         


In spatial layout, the Divan katib Hajdar or White Mosque in Sarajevo belongs to the type of single-space mosque with exterior wooden sofas, hipped roof and stone minaret(5). In Bosnia and Herzegovina this type of mosque has been erected without a break since the mid 15th century  (Bećirbegović, 43).

As regards the conception of their ground plan, these mosques are identical in layout to domed mosques (entrance portico and prayer space), but their different execution and spatial form gives them an entirely new architectural expression.  In the case of these mosques, the entrance portico and central prayer space share a single hipped roof, given them entirely new proportions, spatially speaking (Bećirbegović, p. 43.)

The ground plan of the masonry section of the mosque is roughly square, with exterior dimensions of approx. 10.90 x 11.65 m.

The wooden sofas, measuring 13.23 x 4.80 m, are on the north-west side of the building, and share the same roof, so that the overall length of the building south-east/north-west is 15.70 m.

The walls of the mosque are approx. 0.80 m thick (south-west and north-east walls) and 0.77 m thick (north-west and south-east walls). The lower reaches of the wall are stone-built and the upper reaches are of unfired brick.  On the exterior façades, oak tie beams are visible beneath the coat of plaster (particularly at the eastern corner of the building).

The interior prayer space measures 9.25 m (south-west/north-east) x 10.12 m (south-east/north-west).  It has a flat wooden ceiling with šiše composed of firwood boards.  The height of the interior usable space, measuring from floor to ceiling level, is more than 5.50 m.

The floor of the mosque consists of fir-wood boards 42 mm thick. The entire interior of the mosque is plastered and whitewashed.

There is a wooden mahfil along the north-west wall and a short section of the south-west wall, access to which is via the minaret staircase.  The mahfil measures 9.25 x 3.00 m (measured along the north-west wall).  The section along the south-west wall is 1.75 m long. The overall area of the wooden mahfil is approx. 35 m2. The structure of the mahfil rests on four wooden pillars set 2.94 m from the north-west wall.

In addition to the stone minaret, the typical appearance of the mosque is enhanced by its two horizontal rows of rectangular windows.  There is the same number of windows at ground floor and at upper floor level, with two at each level on the north-west or entrance façade, three each on the south-west and the north-east facades, and two at each level on the south-east façade – a total of twenty.

The ground floor row window openings measure approx. 75 x 130 cm, and have simple wooden frames and wrought iron bars on the exterior; the upper floor windows are rather higher, at 75 cm x 140 cm.   The upper floor windows are set directly above those on the ground floor.  Both have flat lintels.

There is no tarih or chronogram on the construction or repair of the mosque, nor is the place where it would have stood identifiable.  The entrance to the building is through a double wooden door of recent manufacture.

The mihrab area is approx. 1.85 m wide and projects forwards from the wall surface by 25 cm. The frame of the mihrab is rectangular, with very simple mouldings – a 45 cm wide band.  The semicircular mihrab niche is approx. 1.0 m wide, with a radiusof 52 cm, and terminates in painted stalactite decoration.

The mimber is wooden, and of recent manufacture.

The wooden sofas of the mosque are its most representative feature.  The use of timber for purely structural reasons (the need to cover a wide span) gave this part of the building a distinctive architectural expression.

The structure of the sofas is composed of a row of wooden pillars, beams and struts. In order to incease the prayer space, an upper storey was added to the sofas serving as an exterior mahfil.

The lower storey measures 13.23 x 4.80 m.  The sides (south-west and north-east) are enclosed by a wall composed of boards 25.4 mm thick. This level is raised above ground level by approx. 50 cm by a stone wall to which is attached the timber substructure to which the floor boards are nailed.  On each side of the stone base of the sofas, where people remove their shoes, a pair of 40 cm wide openings are to be seen, the purpose of which is unknown. The usable area of this lower storey is approx. 62.50 m2.

The upper storey is open on all three sides.  It has a larger area thanks to the sections projecting outwards to the north-east, by 1.40 m, and the north-west, by 2.90 m, giving a total area of approx. 93.00 m2.

Access to the upper storey is via a wooden staircase to the north-east of the building. This staircase is approx. 1 metre wide, and is enclosed to the south-west by a wooden door. Previously, the entrance to the staircase was from the north-west, parallel with the main entrance to the building, as suggested by the marks of a previous door on the wooden partition and the nails fixed symbolically in a semicircle to emphasize the previous entrance.

To the north-west or entrance side are seven pillars forming a total of six openings. These pillars are the same height as the storeys of the mosque.  The roof beam rests on decorated wooden corbels on these pillars, with the remainder of the roof structure resting on the beam.

The entrance to the mosque is between the third and fourth pillars, or in other words in the third opening.  The pillars are square in section, ranging from 22 x 22 to 24 x 24 and even 28 x 28 cm. There is a total of 16 pillars in the sofas.

Wooden consols are fixed to the pillars on the north-west side of the building (the front of the sofas), on which a horizontal 28 x 28 cm beam rests, extending the entire length of the sofas and constituting, along with the beam set along the masonry section of the building, its primary load-bearing structure.  The beam is approx. 14 m long and hewn from a single piece of timber.

This structure supports a secondary load-bearing structure consisting of smaller beams, approx. 20 x 20 cm, set at intervals of approx. 40 to 50 cm.  These beams range in length from 4.80 to 6.20 m (in the places where there are projecting sections).

Where the upper storey projects outwards, the structural elements are accompanied by decorative consols.  Such consols are common in the decorative elements of interior wooden mahfils (the mahfils of the Brdska mosque in Tuzla, the Mokro-zade mosque, the Kasim Katib mosque etc.)

Wooden boards 25.4 mm thick are nailed to the secondary load-bearing structure and constitute the floor of the upper storey.

The sofa railing is identical to the railings found on mosque mahfils, and consists of a series of slats and a terminal newel post with moulded capping.  The railing is approx. 1.40 m high on the ground floor and approx. 70 cm on the upper storey.

As a result of numerous interventions subsequent to its construction, the roof structure is of unusual appearance.  It has a quantity of different structural elements some of which appear to be holding themselves up.

Minaret of the White Mosque

The minaret is twelve-sided in cross-section, and is 26.35 m in overall height excluding the alem (finial).  The base of the minaret is roughly square, measuring 2.16 x 2.10 m, with a height of 3.96 m.  The start of the barrel of the minaret is accentuated by a simple string course and decorated with stylized painted ornaments.

The floor of the šerefe is at a height of 17.50 m. The walkway is approx. 48 cm wide.  The width of the sides of the minaret measured at šerefe level is approx. 45 cm.  The lower side of the šerefe is entirely plain except for two horizontal semicircular string courses. The parapet measures 73 x 90 cm, and is 8 cm thick. The blocks of which the parapet is composed are slightly moulded at the base and the top, and are joined by iron cramps set in lead.

The masonry section of the minaret ends at at height of 22.50, at which point the roof structure, with a height of 3.86 m, begins.  The overall width of the minaret at the top of the masonry section is 1.60 m.

The part of the minaret below the steeple is decorated with blind arcades the surface of which is painted with green oil paint. 

Courtyard wall and entrance

The mosque wall was formerly of unfired brick capped with hollow tiles, and pierced with rectangular openings with iron bars.  The entrances to the mosque courtyard are to the north and the south.  The east entrance is emphasized by the greater height of the roof structure.

The most recent interventions, carried out since the war, included the complete repair of the wall.  The coats of plaster make it impossible to determine whether the original composition and structure of the wall has been retained or whether new building materials have been used. 

Mekteb building

            The mekteb building is rectangular in plan, measuring approx. 4.90 x 6.90 metres. It is a single-storey building with a hipped roof clad with hollow tiles.

The entrance to the building is to the north, where a single wooden door leads into the abdesthana (for ritual ablutions) and mekteb.  There is a window measuring 80 x 80 cm with iron bars on the same side. Another two windows are visible to the south side of the building and one to the west.

The mekteb building was repaired following the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the same time as the harem wall.

White fountain

A česma(6) with a stone trough was built in 1815 by the harem of the White Mosque, to the south-east in Džinina street.  This was the only česma on the right bank of the Miljacka to which water was fed “along the street” and on which an inscription in Turkish  verse was incised on a separate plaque.  The inscription relates to the renovation of the fountain.

The assumption is that the founder of the mosque, Divan katib Hajdar, built a fountain on this spot in 1545, which was later replaced.

The inscription reads:

«A second benefactor, Hatidža hanuma [lady], daughter of

hajji Mahmut,

Renovated this česma and brought pure water, so

Refreshing people,

May God ease her entry into Firdaus, the great paradise.»

7. Ramadan 1230 AH (16. 08. 1815.)

            Formerly, there were extensions to each side of the stone trough where clothes were laundered. The fountain also had a wooden roof.  In 1890 the fountain was provided with mains water (Kreševljaković, pp. 320-321).

The fountain is built entirely of limestone blocks (hreša stone) bonded by lime mortar.  The fountain is 1.25 m wide and approx. 2.00 m high overall, including the trough. The stone wall of the fountain is more than 1.50 m thick.  The trough itself is 70 cm wide and approx. 50 cm high.  The forward side of the trough is 10 cm thick and the sides approx. 25 cm thick.

The fountain was built from a total of four courses of stone blocks, topped by a fifth and final course, 20 cm thick and projecting forward by 10 cm from the vertical surface of the fountain wall.

The fountain has been in a state of severe neglect for many years.


Beside the White Mosque is the turbe or mausoleum of its founder, and a small harem or courtyard-burial ground with about thirty nišan tombstones.

Turbe of Divan Katib Hajdar efendi

This turbe stands to the east of the mosque and lies north-east/south-west.

The turbe is roughly square in plan, measuring approx. 3.50 x 3.80 metres.  The structure of the turbe consists of three octagonal-section stone pillars.

The pillars are linked by curved [ogee?] arches.  The masonry dome of the turbe rests on this structure via pendentives.

The turbe is entirely constructed of finely cut blocks of tufa.  It is topped by an alem (finial).

The turbe was previously plastered with lime plaster and had a hipped roof with galvanized iron cladding.

The turbe contains a sarcophagus measuring 2.00 x 1.40 metres, and 70 cm high. Above the sarcophagus are two nišan tombstones made of wood that was subsequently painted.  These are the only surviving wooden nišans(7) in Sarajevo, and date from the 17th century.  They are square in section, measuring 12 x 12 cm.

The nišans were made in imitation of 16th century Skoplje nišans with a decorated turban and a rosette on the footstone.  They have no epitaphs, but the founder of the mosque is known to be buried here (Kreševljaković, pp. 320-321)(8).

Nišan of Hasan son of Husejin

This nišan is of Skopje marble. The epitaph was on the headstone.  The sarcophagus slabs are still in place, but according to Mujezinović the nišan has disappeared.

The epitaph was incised on all four sides:

«Hasan, son of Husejin, has passed away.

May God forgive him and those of his parents.

In the final decade of the noble month of Sha’ban

Nine hundred and fifty five.»

(24. 09. 1548)


Nišan of Fatima, daughter of Mustafa efendi, a scribe in odžak

The nišan formerly had a girl’s cap decorated with flowers, which was knocked off and has disappeared from the site.

The inscription on the nišan is in Turkish prose and incised on one side of the nišan only:

«He (God) is the eternal Creator. The deceased Fatima,

daughter of Mustafa efendi, a scribe in odžak.

(Recite) Fatiha for her soul. 1 Rajab 1231.»

(28. 05. 1816.)


Nišan of Mustafa efendi, odžak katib

Mustafa efendi was the father of the deceased Fatima whose nišan is described above.  The headstone, 1.32 m in height and 19 x 19 cm in section, with an ulema turban, is incised with an epitaph on two sides:

«He (God) is the eternal Creator.

Deceased, God rest his soul,

A member of the noble Sharifs Mustafa efendi,

Son of mula-Ahmed, katib in the odžak.

Died on the 15th day of the month of Sha'ban 1255.»

(24. 10. 1839.)

The other side of the nišan bears an inscription which reads:

«The purpose of visiting a grave is to pray.

That which we are today, you shall be tomorrow.

(Recite) Fatiha for the love of God.»


Nišan of Gavas-baša Hajji-Mehmed

The headstone nišan, on which an epitaph in prose is incised, has a separate cap with a large tassel, and a long knife carved on one side. The headstone, which is 1.45 m high and 18 x 18 cm in section, has a santrač (surround).  The epitaph on the nišan reads as follows:

«He (God) is the eternal Creator.

Deceased, God rest his soul,

Hajji Mehmed reis-aga,

Son of Hasan of Kutahija,

gavas baša of the former Rumelian vali Ahmed Zekerija-paša.

(Recite) Fatiha for his soul. 28. Jumada-al-akhira 1255..»

(8. 09. 1939).


Nišan of Mualima Mula Hamša (muallim of the girls' mekteb of the mosque)

This tombstone has simple women’s nišans, 70 cm in height and 40 x 16 cm in section. The nišan bears a prose epitaph reading:

«Ah death,

Deceased, God rest her soul, mula Hamša,

Of the kasaba [town] of Olovo,

Unmarried daughter ofi Mulalić Avdija,

bula in the Saburin home mekteb.

(Recite) Fatiha for her soul.

Died in the month of Rajab 1274.»

(15.02. – 16.03. 1858.)


There are other nišan tombstones with epitaphs in the harem, belonging to:

o        Hajji Sulejman Ernezi, who died in 1255 AH (1810/11)

o        Mula Hasan Prozorac, who died in 1286 AH (1869/70)

o        Đulse wife of Prozorac mula Hasan, who died in 1298 AH (1881)


Among the undated nišan tombstones, one stands out with a turban made of miljevina limestone richly adorned with various ornaments (Mujezinović, pp. 319-320).  A number of burials have been carried out in the harem in more recent times.  Inhabitants of the mahala killed when the mosque and its surrounding area were shelled are buried here.


3. Legal status to date

By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH of Sarajevo, no. 681/50, the White Mosque in Sarajevo in its courtyard at the corner of Džinina and Bijele česme street, owned by the vakuf of the White Mosque, cadastral plot no. 1 in cadastral municipality no. XCIII/52, was placed under state proteciton.

The same document has a handwritten note to the effect that the protection was registered under no. 671/50 of 10 May 1971.

The property forms part of the urban ensemble of Sarajevo listed in the 1980 Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a Category 0 monument.

The property is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments under serial no. 536.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

It is noticeable that certain interventions have been carried out on the building on several occasions without a design project or the supervision of the heritage protection authority. Most of these have been carried out on the masonry part of the building, where alterations have been made to the windows, a small abdesthana has been built on in southern corner of the exterior sofas, some surfaces have been concreted or plastered over, and gas-fired central heating has been installed.

Works to make good the damage to the White Mosque began in the early 1990s and are still being carred out, under the expert supervision of the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage in Sarajevo.

The following works have been carried out:


  • conservation and restoration works on the fountain (numbering, dismantling, cleaning off deposits, cleaning joints and reassembly of stone blocks)
  • replacing the tap (the fountain previously had an ordinary water tap)


  • erecting steel scaffolding around the minaret to a heighth of 17.50 m
  • dismantling damaged parts of the šerefe, a total of 24 stone slabs 8 cm thick
  • dismantling the remains of the 7 cm thick šerefe parapet
  • dismantling the tufa blocks of the barrel of the minaret by removing them block by block, numbering them and carefully laying them out in order
  • cleaning all damaged surfaces and joints
  • injecting the joints with cement milk under pressure and injecting 2 m long cracks
  • removing plaster remains from the minaret
  • sanding down the tufa
  • procuring limestone slabs (a total of 24 with a thickness of 8 cm) and setting them in lime cement mortar and joining with iron cramps
  • laying an 8 cm thick reinforced concrete slab on the plateau of the šerefe sloping outwards by 3%
  • rebuilding the barrel of the minaret with numbered 15 cm thick tufa blocks
  • rebuilding the barrel of the minaret with new tufa blocks in lime cement mortar
  • restoring the tufa mouldings at the top and  base of the minaret (elements with a height of 10 cm fixed in 1:3:9 lime cement mortar)
  • making the roof structure of the minaret out of softwood
  • constructing the timber substructure for the roof cladding
  • procuring and cutting 1 mm copper sheet 50 x 190 cm and laying on the prepared base
  • making and mounting a new finial
  • plastering the minaret with lime mortar 1:2 and adding painted decoration
  • making and erecting the šerefe parapet.

Other works carried out since 2002

  • cleaning the tufa blocks of the turbe
  • structural repairs to the sarcophagus
  • repairing the mosque wall, making the coping and cladding with tiles
  • repairing the mekteb building.

 5. Current condition of the property

An on site inspection ascertained as follows:

  • certain interventions have been carried  out or are being carried out that could be detrimental to the appearance of the building
  • the mosque building is at risk from rising damp in the north-east and south-east walls
  • new woodwork – windows and doors – has been fitted; the remains of the old mušebak (lattice) structure are visible on the upper storey of the sofas
  • interlocking tiles have been used to clad the mosque roof
  • recently constructed elements are visible on the underside of the roof structure
  • damage caused during the war and not wholly repaired is visible on the moulding.  This relates to damage caused by pieces of artillery missile penetrating the façade
  • there is visible damage to the upper reaches of the north-west wall as a result of water penetration when the building was badly damaged
  • the structure of the wooden pillars and part of the beams of the sofas is in good condition
  • there is visible damage to the projecting sections of the upper storey of the sofas
  • some of the wooden decorative elements are missing from the wooden sofas
  • the floors of the lower storey of the sofas are in very poor condition
  • the partitions of the lower and upper storey of the wooden sofas are in very poor condition
  • repairs to the sarcophagus in the turbe of Divan Katib Hajdar efendi were carried out using concrete
  • mobile telephone antennae have been attached to the minaret at šerefe level, which are seriously detrimental to the appearance of the mosque
  • the apparatus supplying the antennae with electricity is at the foot of the minaret and is detrimental to the appearance of the building.

The building requires urgent protection measures, particularly the wooden parts of the sofas.




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.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

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.i.  Relation to other elements of the site

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-     Copy of cadastral plan

-     Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-     Photodocumentation;

-     Drawings



During the procedure to designate the architectural ensemble of the Divan Katib Hajdar efendi or White Mosque in Sarajevo as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1914. Truhelka, Ćiro, Osvrt na kulturne sredovječne spomenike. Vođa kroz sredovječnu zbirku Zemaljskog muzeja u Sarajevu. (Review of cultural mediaeval monuments. Guide to the mediaeval collection of the National Museum in Sarajevo) Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, no. XXVII, Sarajevo 1914, 221-252.


1929. Skarić, Vladislav, Postanak Sarajeva i njegov teritorijalni razvitak u 15. i 16. vijeku. (Origins and territorial development of Sarajevo in the 15th and 16th centuries) Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo XLI, vol. 2, Sarajevo, 1929. 41-55


1937.  Traljić, Mustafa,  Sarajevski grad Vratnik. (Sarajevo fort of Vratnik) Sarajevo, 1937.


1937. Skarić, Vladislav, Sarajevo i njegova okolina od najstarijih vremena do austrougarske okupacije. (Sarajevo and environs from ancient times to the Austro-Hungarian occupation) Selected Works, bk. I. Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1985.


1953. Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Stari bosanski gradovi. (Old Bosnian Forts) Naše starine I, Sarajevo, 1953, 7-45.


1956. Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Saraji ili dvori bosanskih namjesnika.(Serais or courts of the Bosnian governors) Naše starine III, Sarajevo, 1956.


1960. Šabanović, Hazim, Postanak i razvoj Sarajeva.(Origins and development of Sarajevo) Proceedings of the Scientific Society of BiH, bk. 5, Sarajevo, 1960.


1964. Šabanović, Hazim, Krajište Isa – bega Ishakovića, Zbirni katastarski popis iz 1455. godine.(Land of Isa-beg Ishaković, Collective Cadastral Census for 1455) Sarajevo, 1964.


1969. Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Sarajevo za vrijeme austrougarske uprave (1878-1918). (Sarajevo During the Austro-Hungarian Period [1878-1918]) Sarajevo, 1969. 


1973.  Bejtić, Alija, Ulice i trgovi Sarajeva, topografija, geneza i toponimija. (Streets and Squares of Sarajevo, Topography, Genesis and Toponymy) Museum of the  City of Sarajevo. Sarajevo, 1973.


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


1978. Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka, Gradska naselja srednjovjekovne bosanske države. (Urban Settlements of the Mediaeval Bosnian State) Sarajevo, 1978.


1979. Bejtić, Alija, Srednjovjekovni grad Hodidid bio je na Vratniku u Sarajevu. (The Mediaeval Fort of Hodidid was in Vratnik in Sarajevo) Proceedings, bk. LXIV, Academy of Science and the Arts of BiH, Dept. of Social Sciences, bk. 20, Sarajevo, 1979. 107-148.


1981.  Ayverdi, Ekrem Hakki, Ayrupa da Osmanli mimari esseIstanbul, 1981.


1997. Fekeža, Lidija, Rezultati novijih arheoloških istraživanja kasnoantičkih i srednjovjekovnih lokaliteta na području Sarajeva. (Results of Latest Archaeological Investigations of Late Antique and Mediaeval Sites in the Sarajevo Area) Sarajevo, 1997,19-34.


1997. Zlatar, Behija, Zlatni period Sarajeva, (Sarajevo's Golden Age) Contributions to History, Sarajevo, 1997.


1998. Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, (Islamic Epigraphics of BiH) bk. I, 3rd. ed., Sarajevo Publishing,  Sarajevo, 1998.


Documentation from the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo


Rijaset of the Islamic Community of BiH, Destruction of Islamic Buildings, http://www.rijaset.net/CIA/galery/


(1)  For great detail see the Decision designating the old Vratnik fort as a national monument of BiH.

(2) Most of the buildings erected in the 15th and 16th centuries were mosques. In addition to their basic role as religious, cultural and educational buildings, they were also the centre of the mahalas that bore the names of the founders of the mosque in that mahala.  Like other buildings of Islamic architecture, mosques were built as the endowments of individuals.  By endowing a vakuf, not only could the mosque be built; it had the resources to operate.  Vakufs played a very important part in the development of Sarajevo. The vakuf funds invested in building were substantial, as evidenced by several lists of vakufs in the defters (records) of the Bosnian sandžak.  During the 15th and 16th century, 70 masjids (ordinary mosques) and 35 jami’as (congregational or Friday mosques) were built in Sarajevo.  The most significant architectural creations, however, date from the 16th century (Zlatar).

(3) It is said that people used to leave empty sections of tubs and barrels for Hajji Hajdar efendi, who collected so many that they were used to heat the water in which he was washed when he died.

(4) The Qur’an consists of 30 juz, each of which is composed of 10 sheets or 20 pages.  It has 114 suras in all.

(5) There are many more of these mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina than there are domed mosques.  Statistics dating from 1933 reveal that there were 223 of them, about 20% of the country’s total.  Of these, 158, or 16%, were in Bosnia and 65, or 51%, in Herzegovina. These same statistics reveal that the Sarajevo muftiluk (area under the jurisdiction of a mufti) had the largest number, with 101.

(6) Česmas are small stone structures with a low wall with a decorative shallow moulded pointed arch and incised with a decorative inscription, and a stone trough at the foot of the wall.  With these modest features of a stylized arch and inscription, they nonetheless achieve an architectural effect which is further enhanced by the running water.  Česmas are built alongside mosques, but also in streets, mahalas, the čaršija, and on open roads (Redžić, pp. 139-141)

(7) Tradition has it that there were golden nišans here (probably meaning with gilded epitaphs), which Eugene of Savoy’s army carried off when it left.

(8) Traljić, however, says that it is very likely, since the deceased died on the way to Mecca, that someone else, perhaps one of his relatives, is buried here (Traljić, p. 38)

War damagesPorchInterior of the White mosqueDetail of the construction
Drinking fountain<i>Turbe</i>, an old photoBijela (White) mosque 

BiH jezici 
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