Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Old Bočac fort, 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 on 4 March 2003 the Commission adopted a         


D E C I S I O N 




The architectural ensemble of the Old Bočac Fort is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the walls and buildings of the old Bočac fort and the movable heritage items housed in the Museum of Republika Srpska in Banja Luka.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 4/103/-1 (old survey), title sheet no. 28, cadastral municipality Dabrac, Municipality Mrkonjić Grad, Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for 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.




The following protection measures are hereby stipulated, which shall apply to the single protection zone of the National Monument as defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.

  • all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • the site of the National Monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.

To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument the following measures shall be carried out:

  • the walls of the main tower, the bailey area and outer walls, and the surroundings shall be cleared of self-sown vegetation posing a danger to the structure of the monument;
  • the towers and ramparts shall be made good structurally where cracks have appeared that risk causing the entire structure to collapse;
  • a programme for the presentation of the National Monument shall be drawn up and implemented. 



The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable heritage for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Permission for temporary removal under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the items in any way. 

In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of Republika Srpska, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            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 Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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 – 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) 




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.94.




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.




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: 05.2-02-68/05-6

3 May 2005



Chair of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo


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 architectural ensemble of the old Bočac fort to the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH under serial no. 94.

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 old Bočac fort is in the village of Dabrac, on a site known as Gradina or Kamenjar. It stands on a largely inaccessible rocky cliff high above a great bend, on the left bank of the Vrbas, at the point where the Bočac gorge ends, widening out into the gentle Bočac valley.  The fort is roughly midway between Banja Luka and Jajce, 30 km from Jajce. Fifteen kilometres too the north of it, along the Vrbas, is Greben fort in Krupa on the Vrbas, with the Zvečaj fort a further 10 km to the north.

            According to information from the Authority for Geodetics and Property Affairs of Republika Srpska, Mrkonjić Grad branch, the Census Cadastre remains in force in c.m. Dabrac and no new survey has been set out.  There is no Land Register for this area, it having been destroyed during World War II.

Historical information

Archaeological excavations have uncovered no remains of habitation or buildings dating from ancient times – prehistory, antiquity and the early mediaeval period – until the erection of the fortifications in Bočac.  Historical information on this mediaval and Ottoman fort is also scant.  Bočac was probably built at the turn of the 14th to 15th century, to defend the crossing over the Vrbas.  Later, with the forts in Jajce, Komotin, Krupa (Greben fort), Zvečaj and Banja Luka, it formed part of the 15th century defences against Ottoman incursions westwards (Bojanovski, 1977, 111).  The area where the mediaeval fort of Bočac is located was in the mediaeval župa (county) of Zemljanik, as were the two nearby forts of Zvečaj and Greben fort in Krupa on the Vrbas (Mrgić-Radojčić, 2002, 21).  There is reference in the 14th century to the Zvečaj and Greben forts, and in the first half of the 15th century to Bočac as well, all three of them built fairly close together on the left bank of the Vrbas.  In older historiographic works, they are referred to as forts guarding the road along the river Vrbas.  This river valley, which consists largely of gorges, was impassable from Jajce to just outside Banja Luka until quite recent times, so the assumption is that these forts were built to guard the fords across the Vrbas.  The river could be easily forded below Bočac, so that it was possible from this fort to control the Vrbas crossing on the Skender Vakuf - Čemernica - Bočac - Surjan road (Bojanovski, 1977, 112; Mrgić-Radojčić, 2002, 219).

The earliest reference to the Bočac fort is in an act of Hungary’s King Sigismund to Ban Matko Talovac which notes that during a military campaign in the summer of 1434 the Hungarian Ban succeeded in capturing from the Ottomans a number of important forts in the Vrbas valley – Jajce, Bočac and Komotin.

            The outskirts known as Podbočac are referred to in the mid 15th century in archive material in Dubrovnik, as a place from which servants came to Dalmatia (Šunjić, 1996, 305).  The varoš (town) lay on both banks of the Vrbas.  On the right bank was the place known as Varešić, near the present-day village of Bočac, and on the left bank, on a site known as Crkvina, stood a mediaeval church the ruins of which were still visible until this part of the bank was earthed up when the dam was built (Bojanovski, 1977, 113; Mrgić-Radojčić, 2002, 222).

            The fort was in the Jajce banate from 1464.  It had a garrison, whose castellans in 1494 were Dionizije Dabišević and Juraj Popović.  Until 1507 there are references to the fort in several Hungarian military documents.  The inhabitants of the town below the Bočac fort received aid from the king (Thallozy, 1916, 230).

            The Ottomans conquered Bočac prior to 21 May 1516, the date of a letter by Franjo Berislavić of Grabarje in which he reported to the Slavonian vice-ban that the Bosnian pasha intended to rebuild Bočac, and two weeks later quomodo nunc impense castrum Bochach simulcrum suburbio edificio paratur (Mrgić-Radojković, 130).  It can be deduced from this letter that the Ottomans repaired and reinforced the fort and garrisoned it.  In June 1525, outside Bočac, the Ottomans met an army led by Krsto Frankopan, bringing food supplies to Jajce (Thallozy, 1916 , 209).

            An anonymous communication recounts that Bočac was a stronghold with few cannon.  In the 1833 census of forts, Bočac was listed as empty, meaning that the garrison must have abandoned it prior to that year.  The fort had dizdars (garrison commanders) until the early decades of the 19th century.  The first known dizdar was Smailaga, who held the post twice, in 1617 and 1626.  His deed of endowment refers to Bočac as a varoš.  In 1704 the dizdar of Bočac fort was Mehmedaga, Smailaga's grandson, and in 1815 yet another Mehmedaga.  It is not known which captaincy it belonged to – possibly to the Jajce captaincy (Kreševljaković, 1953, 25; idem, 1991, 148).

In the Ottoman period, it belonged to the Jajce nahiye, the earliest reference to which is in a 1562 census, as is that of Greben fort (Šabanović, 1982, 178).  In 1540 the Jajce nahiye belonged to the Kobaš kadiluk, and from 1562 it belonged to the Banja Luka kadiluk; between 1580 and 1591, when the Jajce kadiluk was formed, it belonged to it (Šabanović, 1982, 185).  


2. Description of the property

The greater part of the foundations of the fort were laid on rocky ground.  The fort lies  north-south and covers an area of about 2500 m2.  Despite later rebuilding, the basic layout of the fort remained unchanged.  The fort had four towers: Tower A, the main tower or keep, which was later adapted into a great tower, gate house tower  B, tower C by the east wall and tower D by the south wall.  All except tower A were set back into the perimeter rampart and bailey (E).  The substructures of towers B, C and D were discovered during archaeological excavations in 1977.  The tower was largely converted into a strong artillery fort during the Ottoman period (Bojanovski, 1977, 1112).  Double ramparts can be seen in the intersections of the perimeter walls.

The large main tower or keep (A), which is octagonal in section with a diameter of up to 16 m, is in the western corner.  Inside the tower is a quadrangular room measuring 9 x 6 m.  This was probably the ground plan of an earlier tower, which was reinforced by a double wall, 3.5 m thick, and earthworks, to protect it from artillery fire from Crvena stijena on the right bank of the Vrbas.  The battlements of the main tower, which at some time acquired the form of a bastion, had emplacements for three to four cannon.  At the time of the conservation works carried out in the late 1970s, there was only one cannonhole left, the remains of which can still be seen.  The entrance to the tower was in the south wall, from the bailey (E) which lies to the south of the main tower.  The spacious bailey is an irregular ellipsoid in shape, 58 m long and 35 m wide.  Most of it lies on a rocky level area, further levelled by a layer of earth up to 2 m thick.  The bailey is surrounded by massive double ramparts forming a zigzag line, about 5 m high and 3 m thick.  The entrance to the bailey is in the north-eastern part of the rampart, opposite the main tower, from which it could be defended.  This was where the gatehouse (B) formerly stood; its exterior dimensions were 8 x 7 m, with walls from 1.20 to 2.50 m thick.  Traces of the ruins of the north wall of the gatehouse can be made out on the inner side of the bailey ramparts.  Judging from their shape, the smaller towers C and D were built in the Ottoman period as artillery towers.  Tower C, by the east perimeter ramparts, defended the fort from fire coming from the right bank of the Vrbas.  Tower D was above the cliff in the south-west part of the ramparts, and guarded the land access to the fort as did the main tower to the north.  Outside, to the north, beside the bailey and main tower, was an outer rampart (F) which protected this, the most exposed part of the fort, and the area outside the gatehouse.  A wall about 1.5 m thick ran down from the north wall of the gatehouse eastwards down the cliff to the bank of the Vrbas.  Eighty metres along the wall was a small tower, in ground plan an irregular circle and partly zigzag lines, with a diameter of about 9 m.  Truhelka, who visited this area in the late 19th century, refers to a “guard tower” at the centre of the wall “which had close-set loopholes at the top;” this probably refers to tower G.  He also saw a “gate at the end of the wall” on the bank of the Vrbas. The section from tower G to the Vrbas has been pulled down, and tower G is now at the edge of an almost vertical cliff.  First to be demolished was the extreme end of the wall by the Vrbas, when the new road was built, so that Truhelka could still make out “some traces of that wall” above the water (Truhelka, 1904, 72-73).


3. Legal status to date

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NRBiH no. 05-1538-1/63 of 27 December 1963, the old fort in Bočac, Municipality Mrkonjić Grad, was placed under state protection.  By Ruling no. 05-*P.I-175-1 of 15 October 1970 it was entered in the Register of immovable cultural monuments under no. 502.

The architectural ensemble of the old Bočac fort is on the Provisional List of National Monuments, under the name Old Bočac fort in Bočac, serial no. 94.

The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists it as a Category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            In 1977, archaeological excavations were carried out under Dr Ivo Bojanovski, an archaeologist from the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Part of the conservation and restoration works were also carried out in 1977, under eng. Aleksandar Ninković of the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. All the works were carried out in the context of the construction of the Bočac hydroelectric plant.  The movable finds were transferred to the Museum of the Bosnian Krajina in Banja Luka, and the technical and photodocumentation are in the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovinan in Sarajevo.


5. Current condition of the property

             An on site inspection on 25 April 2005 ascertained that the fort is still in a good state of preservation.  The exterior revetment has fallen away in places on the perimeter ramparts, leaving the central mass or infill of the ramparts visible. This is particularly marked on the west wall by the main tower, A, and at the entrance to the fort. There is also a sizeable hole in the west perimeter rampart in which the wooden tiebeam can be seen – this hole gives the impression of having been deliberately made quite recently.  The inside of the main tower is full of stones that have fallen from the top of the tower or the wall revetments, and of weeds.  Stones are also missing in places from the outer wall revetment of the main tower.  The area of an unexcavated building inside the bailey, by the west wall, is overgrown with weeds.  The entrance to the fort and the area around the footings of the fort are also overgrown.  A crack is visible in the wall of the freestanding tower G.  The remaining sections of the walls from the main tower, A, to the freestanding tower G are completely overgrown.

             It is clear that this protected monument has undergone no maintenance for many years.

            Below the main tower and the footings of the fort are three large metal tanks that should long since have been removed.




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

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical change

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.v. location and setting

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:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Ruling of the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR BiH dated 1969 treating the structure as a cultural monument

o        Photodocumentation photographed on site in April 2005

o        Drawings, ground plan of the Old Bočac Fort from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport.



            During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1904.    Truhelka, Ćiro, Kraljevski grad Jajce. Povijest i znamenitosti (Royal town of Jajce. History and features of interest) Sarajevo, 1904.


1916.    Thallozy,  Ljudevit, Povijest (banovine, grada i varoši) Jajca. (History of the banate, fort and town of Jajce) Zagreb, 1916.


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


1977.    Bojanovski, Ivo, Bočac, Dabrac, Mrkonjić Grad – srednjovjekovno i tursko utvrđenje (Bočac, Dabrac, Mrkonjić Grad – a mediaeval and Turkish fortress) Archaeological Survey 19, Belgrade, 1977, 111-114


1981.    Živković, Pavo, Tvrtko II Tvrtković, Bosna u prvoj polovini XV stoljeća (Tvrtko II Tvrtković,  Bosnia in the first half of the 15th century) Sarajevo, 1981.


1982.    Šabanović, Hazim, Bosanski pašaluk (The Bosnian pashaluk) Sarajevo, 1982.


1991.    Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Kapetanije (Captaincies) Collected Works I, Sarajevo, 1991.


1996.   Šunjić, Marko, Bosna i Venecija (Bosnia and Venice) Sarajevo, 1996.


2002.   Mrgić-Radojčić, Jelena, Donji kraji krajina srednjovekovne Bosne (Lower regions of the frontier of mediaeval Bosnia) Belgrade 2002.


Old Bočac fort in Mrkonjić GradOld Bočac fortSurroundings of the Old fortRamparts
Part of the Eastern rampart and South part od the  baileyInner part of the East rampartDetached tower G 

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