Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Despića house, the historic building

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Status of monument -> National monument


Published in the Official Gazette of BiH, no. 99/06.

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 historic monument of the Despić house 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. 1303/1 (new survey), c.p nos. 28, 20 mahala XXXVII (old survey) – Sarajevo, title deed no. 360, cadastral municipality Sarajevo I, 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 for the protection and presentation 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 basic details of the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




With a view to the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection zones are hereby prescribed:

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

-          conservation-restoration works, works designed for the presentation of the monument and routine maintenance works are permitted, subject to 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 operations that could have a negative impact on the National Monument (air pollution, noise, vibration) are prohibited.




All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation thereof.




The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the 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. 522.




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: 07.2-02-56/05-2

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 Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the Despić house to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, under serial no. 522.

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.



During 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.

-          An inspection of the current 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 Despić house stands on the corner of Despićeva and Obala Kulina Bana streets within the historic centre of Baščaršija, in the quarter known as Latinluk(1).

The National Monument stands on c.p. no. 1303/1 (new survey), c.p. 28, 20 mahala XXXVII (old survey), c.m. Sarajevo I, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical background

The Despić house is the first private house in Sarajevo to be built with a layout that departed from the tradition of the official Oriental style of building. It is one of the first, and best-preserved, documents of the inroads of European creativity into the culture of these parts (Hadžić, p.1.)

It is not possible to date the building with certainty, but to judge from the features of the load-bearing elements, types of building materials and structural system used in certain parts of the building, construction probably began in the 17th century.

The latest research corroborates the claim that the Despić house came about as a result of two older houses being converted into one by the addition of a divanhana (spacious hallway or corridor) and a common roof structure. The façade we now see dates from 1882, after the great fire that swept through the Sarajevo čaršija in 1879.

At least four stages can be identified in the Despić house:

Stage I

The oldest part of the building is the central section, which consists of a basement, ground floor and first floor, with an old room on the ground floor and another room above it. The basements are of limestone, but the ground and first floors were built of various materials – unfired and fired brick. The walls are massive, and the ground-floor windows are fitted with grilles and iron shutters. 

Stage II began when this house and the next-door one, which had the same number and layout of rooms as the first, were turned into one. This ground and first floors of this house were also built of unfired and fired brick. The houses were joined by a stairwell, turning the two buildings into one, which underwent no further alterations until 1820.

Stage III in the development of the building began after 1820, when an extension with a basement, ground floor and first floor was added to the east. At this time, too, a ground-floor open divanhana was added, with three arches and three windows fitted with grilles and iron shutters, while the first-floor divanhana was glazed. This stage continued until 1879, when the building was badly damaged by fire. The divanhana windows were later glazed and a door to the garden was fitted.

Stage IV in the development of the building began after the great fire of 1879 and continued until 1882, when it acquired its present appearance. The builders of the present-day Despić house were probably those who built the first public buildings of so-called European leanings in Sarajevo, in 1865-1866 (the Vakuf hospital building, the former military hospital, and the Vizier’s Residence). These were two builders from Split – Franjo Linardić, who carried out repair works to the foundations of the bridge in Višegrad in 1875, and Franjo Moise(2).

The first home-grown theatre in Sarajevo, and indeed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was set up in the Despić family’s house, which gives this building particular importance. The first performances were held in about 1870, and continued until the start of Austro-Hungarian rule(3).   The room in the east wing of the Despić house is known to this day as the theatre room.

The Despić house was turned into a museum in the 1960s, following an agreement between the Despić family and the municipality.

The Despić house was damaged on several occasions during the 1992-1995 war.  Shelling in 1993 damaged the roof structure, the copper roof cladding, the dripping edges and the façade. Damp caused interior damage, mainly to the painted surfaces of the walls, which were of great value. There was serious damage to roof structure and walls in the eastern part of the house. Investigative works on the building also revealed damage resulting from subsidence, and cracks caused by shrapnel.

Though the whole building should have been turned into a museum, the first floor was occupied by tenants until 2001. The improper use of parts of the house (the washroom in the small drawing room) and the absence of proper plumbing gave rise to a range of problems caused by leaks. The worst damage was to the ceiling joists between the theatre room and the room above.

The building was entirely repaired in 2001 with the help of the Swedish foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders, the Government of Sarajevo Canton and the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport. In the oldest part of the house, the oldest surviving features of the 19th century lifestyle in these parts were the musanderas, shelves, the built-in stove with pots and the peškuni (small round tables, often richly carved). Also surviving were fine examples of painting on wooden panels, which were restored and reconstructed.

The property is now owned by the Sarajevo Museum. Though modest in size, the property is of great historical importance as one of the few surviving buildings of this type where its architectural history can be clearly read. There is also another aspect to the building’s value: it attests to the formation of the first local theatre and to the European inclinations of the Despić family.


2. Description of the property

The Despić house is rectangular in ground plan, measuring approx. 10.36 m (west side) x 18.40  m (south side). To the east the building is approx. 10.53 m long, and to the north 18.10 m.  The main entrance to the building is to the west, from Despićeva street. There is a garden to the south, while to the north is an annex, which was reconstructed on the footprint of foundations uncovered during restoration works.

            The building consists of a basement, ground floor and first floor.

The basement consists of two separate areas and a third discovered during research works.

The larger basement is to the east of the building and measures 5.60 x 4.60 m. It is reached from the south, where a single flight of steps descends to floor level at –2.25 m. There is a wooden pillar, 29 x 29 cm in section, with a 30 x 30 cm corbel, in the middle of the basement, supporting a hewn wooden beam, 29 x 29 cm in section, running north-south. Prior to the conservation-restoration works, a semi-prefabricated reinforced concrete structure 23 cm thick was laid over this structure. The floor level is 2.47 m below ground level. (Details from Report by the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport.)

The smaller basement is to the west of the building and measures 3.70 x 3.35 m. the entrance is from the ground floor section of the divanhana, very close to the entrance door, where a single flight of steps 1.03 m wide descends to floor level at –2.05 m. In the middle of this basement is a wooden pillar, 21 x 17 cm in cross section, with a corbel of 22 x 18 cm in section, on which rests a wooden cut beam, 22 x 22 cm in cross section, running east-west. The ceiling of the basement is wooden, consisting of cut half-logs measuring 11 x 22 cm set in rammed clay 15.5 and 26.6 cm thick. This structure rests on wooden 15 x 10 cm beams. The foundations are 2.30 m below ground level.

The third room, known as the hiding-place, was discovered in the central part of the building. This room measures 5.41 x 3.91 m and is 1.93 m below ground level. No opening of any kind that might have been the entrance to this room was discovered during the investigative works.

The basement rooms are set about 2.50 m below the existing road level, and are relatively close to the river Miljacka. Before the repair works, the exposed surfaces of the building were not protected by any damp proofing, which meant they were too damp to be usable.

The investigative works during which test pits were dug outside the building to both sides and in the basement revealed that the foundations are of quarry stone and are of the same thickness as the basement walls. The level of the foundations is about 30 cm below that of the basement floors. The basement rooms have retained their baked brick floors composed of tiles measuring 24 x 24 x 4.5 cm, except the east basement which has a quarry stone floor(4).

Ground floor

The main entrance to the Despić house is to the west, through a 1.07 m wide door, leading into the divanhana, onto which all the ground-floor rooms open. The divanhana measures 11.24 x 3.22 metres. The walls of the divanhana are of brick, approx. 64 cm thick. On the south side are three openings each 2.56 m wide, the central one forming the entrance to the building from the garden.

The ceiling of the divanhana is of wood, with no pugging. It is 23 cm thick and consists of 14 x 16 cm cut wooden beams set 43 cm apart. The area between these beams was filled with Austrian-format bricks. The underside of the ceiling is panelled with wood boards 2.54 cm thick, to which reeds were nailed and coated with a layer of lime mortar approx. 2 cm thick.

The divanhana had a variety of floorings. To the west, by the main entrance, mosaic tiles were used. The central area was concreted, and the east end was laid with classic parquet.  During the latest conservation-restoration works, the concrete and parquet were replaced by brick floor tiles.

A door 95 cm wide leads from the divanhana into the large or theatre room and cloakroom, to the east of the building. This and the room above it on the first floor are the newest parts of the building. Before repair works were carried out, it was in very poor structural condition.  Major structural damage to the walls and to the horizontal wooden tie beams was observed – the floor-level beams were completely rotten in places.

This room measures 6.95 x 4.54 metres, with a width of 5.07 m on the south side, where there are two 1.13 m wide windows.

The theatre room has a wooden ceiling resting on transverse load-bearing cut wooden beams of 33.5 x 23.5 cm section. This structure is 43 cm thick and is composed of 14 x 26 cm cut beams with clay pugging 14 or 28 cm thick, set on 15 x 10 cm planks. Prior to the latest conservation-restoration works the ceiling consisted of reeds nailed to the beams and coated with a layer of lime plaster. After removing the coat of plaster, painted floral decorations were discovered on the underside of the beams. To the east of this room is a bricked-up window measuring 81 x 165 with a depth of 55 cm. The floor of this room is 30 cm higher than that of the divanhana.

To the north of the theatre room is a cloakroom measuring 4.49 x 1.17 metres. In 2001, during the latest interventions, a bricked-up door to the east of the building was discovered.  There is a bricked-up window in the north wall of this room and, on the same side by the north-east corner of the room, a small window 77 cm wide. The walls are 60 to 70 cm thick. The floor of the room is of brick floor tiles laid on the existing rammed earth.

In the central section of the building, the structural elements of which suggest it is the oldest part, is the room known as Babo’s room(5). The entrance door to this room is to the west by the central staircase that leads to the first floor. The room measures 4.10 x 5.22 metres. The floor level is 5 cm higher than that of the divanhana.

The east wall of this room has two windows each 85 cm wide, with metal shutters (providing a degree of fire protection) and grilles, which suggests that this was once the exterior wall of the building. To the north side of this room is a richly decorated wooden musandera (large fitted wooden cupboard), behind which is a triple-flight wooden staircase of more recent date leading to the upstairs room known as the kubelija. The staircase flights are 1.15 m wide. The room also has a built-in faience stove. The floor consists of 42 mm thick wooden boards.

To the west of the building is the so-called old room, which measures 3.68 x 5.06 metres. To the west, towards Despićeva street, are two windows each 1.09 m wide. To the south is a dolaf (wall cupboard) with two wooden doors 1.02 m wide and 52 cm deep. To the east, close to the centre of the room, is another smaller niche. The floor level of this room is 35 cm higher than that of the divanhana.

The double-flight stone staircase, 1.25 m wide, leads to the first floor, which almost exactly matches the ground floor in layout, except that the first floor divanhana is smaller than the ground-floor one, having been partitioned off to create new rooms.

The corridor measures 2.73 x 5.10 m, with two windows 1.00 m wide facing south onto the garden. The floor of this room consists of wooden boards 42 mm thick.

The south-west room located above the entrance area measures 3.80 x 3.43 metres. It faces south, with two windows approx. 1.00 m wide, and west, with one window 1.02 m wide.

The partitioning of the divanhana created yet another room measuring 4.32 x 2.67 m, to the south of the building, constituting an antechamber to the large room.

The drawing room measures 6.16 x 4.93 m, or 5.32 m on the south side. It faces south, with two windows approx. 1.04 m wide. The entrance to this room is through double wooden doors 1.67 m wide. The floor consists of wooden boards 42 mm thick. The partitioning of the divanhana roughly one-third of its length along created yet another room facing north with two windows. This room measures 4.78 x 3.09 m. The floor again consists of wooden boards 42 mm thick.

The kubelija is in the central section of the first floor, above Babo’s room, and measures 4.18 x 5.77 m. The walls range in thickness from 55 cm (to the north) to 77 cm (to the east and west). The floor level of the kubelija is 52 cm lower than that of the other rooms on the first floor. The entrance to this room is to the west, where a single-flight wooden staircase 90 cm wide leads down to a level of 3.22 m. There are two windows in the south wall of the kubelija, with metal shutters and bars, approx. 90 cm wide on the inside and 68 cm wide on the outside. This room has a hull-shaped ceiling consisting of a network of close-packed centring overlaid horizontally with boards, reeds and lime plaster as the final layer. This type of ceiling is not uncommon in traditional architecture.

This room and the large room were once intercommunicating, but the door was formerly walled up. The kubelije can also be reached via the staircase leading from Babo’s room.

The final room on the first floor is above the old room, and measures 3.74 x 5.21 m. It faces Despićeva street, with two windows approx. 1.05 m wide.

The door above the gallery (the first floor divanhana) leads into the attic of the house, where the wooden ceiling is overlaid with a pugging of slag, except over the kubelija, where the hull-shaped wooden ceiling is 42 cm high and covered with a coating of clay.

The wooden roof structure consists of a system of triple posts with a binding beam. Solid trusses divide the attic area into five sections of varying widths. After the building was badly damaged by fire in 1879, repairs were carried out in 1882, and the present-day roof structure dates from that time. Wooden panelling was laid over the rafters, with sheet metal over the panelling.

Interventions designed to reinforce the building can be seen on the roof – these date from the Austro-Hungarian period and later. Various types of tie beams can be seen, some of flat iron sheets (Austro-Hungarian period) and others of circular reinforcement (1960s).

Concrete corbels were installed in the attic area, measuring 70 x 80 x 30 cm and 80 x 115 x 30 cm, to which some of these reinforcements were attached. These corbels rest on the east wall of the kubelija.

The chimneys of the Despić house are of standard brick, with facing brick used on the exterior.

To the north, an annex to the Despić house has been built to house the toilet facilities (on the ground floor) and kitchen (on the half-landing between the ground and first floors). This new area measures 2.39 x 6.79 m and was built using modern building materials.

The Despić house was built with a combination of quarry stone and Austrian and standard bricks. The foundations are mainly of quarry stone with lime mortar as binder, and the walls are mainly of brick. The ceiling joists are wooden, although modern materials and structures were used during the repairs carried out in the 1960s.

            The decorative treatment of the façades is confined to the structural features and decorative mouldings and the large number of windows.

The south façade is less plain than the rest. In addition to its horizontal division, further enhanced by elaborately moulded horizontal string courses and a large number of windows in two ranks, there is a degree of vertical articulation on this façade as a result of the seven pilasters that divide the façade into six vertical sections. The ground floor pilasters have Doric capitals and the first floor pilasters have Corinthian capitals.

The rhythm of the vertical sections and windows on the façade is not uniform, with noticeable differences between the east and west ends of the building, which can be associated with the different functions of the rooms. Where the divanhana is located, the vertical sections between the pilasters are markedly wider than those to the east, and the number of windows also differs. To the west there are two windows in each section, but to the east there is only one per section.

The first-floor windows are framed with horizontal moulded string courses and further accentuated by elaborately moulded window lintels. There are nine windows in each rank, one of which is blind. The ground-floor windows terminate in slightly rounded arches with a central projection.  There are three windows by the eastern corner of the building, one of which is blind.

The ground-floor divanhana is lit by three wide, arched openings, the middle one of which is the entrance to the building from the garden.

The west façade has two windows on the ground floor and two on the first floor. The main entrance is right by the south-west corner of the building. The door is accentuated by moulded door jambs and an arched door lintel projecting outwards from the wall face.

The north façade has no aesthetic value. It can be seen from the 1968 geodetic survey that there was an annex built on to this side of the building, which was reconstructed during the latest works in 2001.

The east façade has no decoration other than the round window that lights the attic space.

The moulded frames of the windows on the ground and first floor, the vertical pilasters and the horizontal string courses are painted in a different colour from the basic colour of the façade. At present, the building is painted in a soft orange tone, with the string courses and other mouldings painted grey.

All the string courses consist of stepped horizontal rows of brick that were then plastered and finished with moulded sheet metal templates and wooden guidebars. The building has a shallow-pitched roof clad with sheet copper.


3. Legal status to date

By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Rarities of NR BiH Sarajevo no. 921/51 dated 24 October 1951, the Despić house was placed under state protection and entered on the Register of immovable cultural monuments.

The property is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, under the heading Despić house, serial no. 522.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

1820 – theatre and large room, divanhana and staircase built on

1882 – repair works to the fire-damaged roof structure

1960 – circular concrete iron tie beams installed

1990 – roof cladding replaced, using sheet copper

2000 – investigative works:

-          a test pit was sunk to the east by the outside wall of the building, measuring 0.70 x 0.90 m, to ascertain the depth of the foundations of the building

-          a test pit was sunk in Babo’s room, measuring 1.28 x 0.75 m

-          a test pit was sunk in the west basement room, measuring 1.00 x 0.55 m, to ascertain the depth of the foundations of the building

-          two test pits were sunk in the east basement room, measuring 1.55 x 0.70 m and 0.50 x 0.50 m

-          analysis of the damage to the interior of the building – walls, floors and ceilings

-          analysis of damage to the intermediate floor structure and identification of layers

-          analysis of damage to the roof structure and roof cladding(6)  

-          technical survey and blueprints of the ground plan and section of the building with a graphic presentation of the damage

-          technical survey and blueprints of the woodwork with typical details

-          analysis of damage to the façades

-          laboratory analysis of the plaster on the façades

-          analysis of the colour and type of paint used on the façades(7)  

2001 – repair and conservation-restoration works(8), consisting of:

-          cleaning and clearing the building

-          removing layers of soot from the intermediate floor structure and ceilings

-          installing drainage around the building

-          damp proofing in and around the building

-          dismantling the floor structure of the basement and laying a sub-base of ballast to reduce the penetration of rising damp into the rooms and the structure

-          replacing dilapidated load-bearing elements in the basement

-          making proper bearings for the wooden structural elements in the walls of the basement

-          removing those parts of the structure that were made of concrete

-          removing the concrete base in the ground floor in the divanhana and laying brick floor blocks

-          making steel bars for the door leading to the west basement

-          repairing the intermediate floor structure

-          plastering the walls of the theatre and large rooms

-          cleaning, repairing, puttying, sanding down and painting the woodwork throughout the building

-          making sheet copper window sills

-          making sheet copper flashing for the cornices

-          repairing damage to the ceiling of the theatre room with conservation and restoration works to the coats of paint(9)  

-          repairing damage (cracks) on the inner dome of the Kubelija and repairs to the coats of paint

-          cleaning the walls with mild detergents, with conservation and restoration works to the paintwork

-          dismantling and reinstalling the post and pan partition wall between the large and the north rooms on the first floor

-          dismantling and reinstalling the double doors between the large and the north room on the first floor

-          making a complete new floor structure to the model of the existing one

-          reopening a bricked-up door to the east of the building

-          laying a new floor of brick floor blocks in the cloakroom

-          making a new door linking the building to the annex

-          making and installing new tie beams

-          reinforcing the existing roof structure

-          cladding the roof with sheet copper and installing guttering and downpipes

-          repairing damage to the façades – flat surfaces and mouldings(10)

-          smoothing and levelling the mouldings on the façades

-          painting the façades with limewash, including all preparatory treatments

-          making niches for installations

-          installing electricity, lightning conductor, telephone lines and gas fittings

-          building on an annex with new mains water and sewage pipes


5. Current condition of the property

As a result of the recently-completed conservation and restoration works, the building is in good condition. The heavy traffic along Despićeva street has led to minor damage to the facade as a result of water splashing up from the road.



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.iv.      composition

D.         Clarity

D.ii.      evidence of historical change

D.iii.      work of a major artist or builder

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

E.         Symbolic 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

H.         Rarity and representativity

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


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 historic monument of the Despić house in Sarajevo as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1953.    Mladenović, Ljubica. “Stara Despića kuća,” Oslobođenje. Sarajevo, (The old Despić house, Oslobođenje Sarajevo) p. 7, 07. 04. 1953.


1973.    Lešić, Josip. Pozorišni život Sarajeva (1878 – 1918.) (Theatre life of Sarajevo, 1878-1918). Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1973


1985.    Skarić, Vladislav. Izabrana djela (Selected Works) vol II, Prilozi za istoriju Sarajeva (Papers on the History of Sarajevo). Sarajevo: Veselin Masleša, 1985, 64-65


1999.    Study on the extent of threat to the Despić house in Sarajevo. Sarajevo: Museum of Sarajevo, February 1999.


2000.    Hadžić, Azra. Despića kuća Sarajevo, Sanacija i rekonstrukcija, I faza – Detaljni tehnički snimak objekta (Despić house Sarajevo, Repairs and Reconstruction, Stage I – Detailed technical survey of the building). Sarajevo: Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH, April 2000.


Report by Swedish CHwB (Cultural Heritage without Foundations) on the works carried out on the Despić house in Sarajevo


Documentation of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport


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


Documentation and library of the Bosniac Institute in Sarajevo


(1) The part of the čaršija, the old crafts and commercial centre, downstream from the Latin Bridge to the Ćumurija Bridge and between the Gazi Husrev-beg bezistan (covered market), present-day Zrinjski street and Štrosmajerova street. The assumption is that there was an urban settlement in this area even before the arrival of the Ottomans. The quarter gained its name from the Colony of Dubrovnik merchants.

(2) Typical of the two was that they were not only the progenitors of European ideas in building, but also to some extent featured local building styles in their new buildings.

(3) This theatre was known as the theatre in the Despić Brothers' house, and was quite a sensation in its day. The main actor was the head of the household, Mića Despić. According to accounts by Hadži Maksa Despić, the theatre performances were held in the room known as the Great Room or Theatre Room, and were performed alongside those of Holms’ International Theatre. Both theatres show that the new and economically prosperous bourgeois and mercantile class had begun not only to aspire to wealth but also to show its feeling for culture, and that it wanted to adopt the manners and customs of the western European world. The performing arts led to livelier and closer personal communication. 

(4) Details from Report by the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport

(5) Babo was the nickname of Hatji Makso Despić

(6) “The Austro-Hungarian roof structure was in very good condition despite a small fire that broke out during the war. The fire was quickly extinguished, preventing serious damage. Our hope was to preserve the building intact and to persuade local experts not to change anything. There was a strongly-held view that the pitch of the roof should be ‘rectified,’ and that the roof trusses should be replaced with new, larger ones. The problem was to identify a method of computation that would demonstrate theoretically that something that had stood for 100 years could continue to survive into the future. We were assisted in this by Krister Berggren, a Swedish civil engineer. We came to the conclusion that a number of boards should be added on each side of some of the weakest parts of the roof structure.” (CHwB report). Translator’s note: original, presumably in English, not made available – this is a retranslation from the Bosnian.

(7) “An in-depth analysis of the various materials was conducted, because of the combination of different materials, which we did not wish to change in any way. We had one part of the house of unfired brick,one of stone and one of combined unfired rick and Austro-Hungarian brick. We read about the interventions carried out over the years and analyzed their possible reasons. This analysis suggested the likely history of the house, and the way in which it was finally transformed into a single building. The history of the building was previously unknown, since there was no surviving documentation on these alterations.” Translator’s note: retranslation from the Bosnian.

(8) “Our contribution was the discovery and analysis of the history and evolution of this house, as well as its restoration and conservation with a view to its function as a museum. During our analysis of the evolution of the building, we discovered part of the local architectural history of Sarajevo about which nothing has ever been written. This is the first such work.  We hope that the city museum will be able to continue it and that the resulting knowledge will enable us to find out more about other buildings. Our other great contribution to the conservation process was the earthquake-protection solution we applied. We did not work with the stone ring beam that was used before the demotion of so much of the monument. We first made use of the possibilities offered by the wooden tie beams in the walls. We also used steel joints, which operated in parallel with the normal joints. We added joints at the angles and in the attic, and interlinked them all. Separate solutions were designed for the openings on the new annex, where we made “rings” around the door jambs. We did not complete the conservation of the ceiling, and would like to discuss the various options for this with a number of experts, if possible as part of a seminar. The ceiling is now in the same state as we found it, with a number of weak areas. This is, however, one of the ways of conserving it, by presenting it as it really is without any of the changes that would be an inevitable part of any conservation. Since this is a museum, it had to be provided with a security system with fire and burglar alarms. We incorporated a fire alarm system into the annex, along with a simple video surveillance system and control room. However, a museum must also have a good physical security system. We designed removable iron bars that are used to close off the basement galleries at night.” (CHwB report). Translator’s note: this is a retranslation from the Bosnian.

(9) “As for the destroyed ceiling joists, we came up against a new problem after discovering the painted ceiling. We had to retain it intact, and thus had to replace the existing joists and also use the space of that structure. Difficulties arose from the joints incorporated into the structure. To reduce the height of the joists to a minimum, we installed a steel beam supporting the ends of the surviving and new wooden joists. The painting had been executed direct on the structural joists, some of which were too rotten to serve any structural function. We wanted to save the painted decoration, and to do so we carefully cut away the lower part and glued and screwed it to the new joists. Part of the painted decoration had been completely ruined by water. We simply replaced this part with new boards of the same width as the original ones; these will not be painted, but merely painted in the background colour of the ceiling. In the rest of the interior, we left everything we could in its original state. This was the case with the wooden floor and the tiled floors, the walls decorated with stencil patterns, and all the woodwork, doors, cupboards with shelves and windows.  In this case, too, we persuaded the museum staff not to embellish anything, but to show it was it really was, to reveal the materials with all their dilapidated areas to emphasize their age and to show life as it was.” (CHwB report). Translator’s note: this is a retranslation from the Bosnian.

(10) “The cement rendering was removed and replaced with lime plaster, and painted in the colours associated with Christian Orthodox buildings. We tried to uncover earlier layers to find out what colour the façade was painted at various points in time and how many different colours it had had. We chose a terracotta shade, based on one of the earlier layers. However, we do not know when these different layers date from, merely the order in which they were painted. We rebuilt the demolished annex that had been at the rear of the building, placing all the plumbing there so as to leave the original building intact.” (CHwB report). Translator’s note: this is a retranslation from the Bosnian.

Despića houseSouthern facadeZapadna fasadaInterior - <i>Divanhana</i>
<i>Divanahana</i>, detailFather’s room<i>Kubelija</i>Old room

BiH jezici 
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