Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Clock Tower in Gračanica, the historic building

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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 6 to 12 May 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The historic building of the Clock Tower in Gračanica is hereby designated as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument stands on a site comprising cadastral polot no. 3603/1, cadastral municipality Gračanica,  Gračanica Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation 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 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.




            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, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation of the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            The National Monument referred to in Clause 1 of this Decision comprises the area of c.p 3603/1, c.m. Gračanica.

Ÿ          In regard to the clock tower, only conservation and restoration works are permitted, to a project approved by the Federal ministry responsible for regional planning and under the professional supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of  Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority);

Ÿ          Alterations to the height of the buildings surrounding the clock tower are prohibited, and the height of new buildings in Ahmed Paše Budimlije street may not exceed two storeys with a maximum height of 6.5 m to the roof cornice

Ÿ          The protection of the wider urban area (čaršija) will be defined by the urban plan for the town of Gračanica, and in that area no construction or alteration to the landscape shall be permitted.




            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are to be 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 specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for town 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, III and IV of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.anek8komisija.com.ba) 




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




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



Chairman of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No. 06-6-90/03 -3

6-12 May 2003



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 (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) 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 (hereinafter referred to as Annex 8) and as 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.

            At a session held on 11 March 1998 the Commission issued a Decision to add the Clock Tower in Gračanica to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 257.

            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:

Ÿ          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (c.p. 3603/1, c.m. Gračanica, as on attached copy of cadastral plan dated March 2003, and copy of land registry entry no. 772, c.m. Gračanica)

Ÿ          Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.

Ÿ          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 Clock Tower stands in the centre of the Gračanica čaršija, in the immediate vicinity of the Ahmed-paša or čaršija mosque, on c.p. 3603/1, c.m. Gračanica, state owned, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            Mechanical clocks first appeared in Europe in the Middle Ages, above on all clock towers.  Until the nineteenth century pocket watches were rare and expensive, affordable only by the rich, while others referred to public clock towers.

            The construction of buildings of this type in the Ottoman Empire began in the mid sixteenth century.  Both urban development and the need to perform the five daily prayers prescribed for Muslims at specific times of day led to the widespread presence of clock towers. According to a sixteenth century French traveller, the first clock tower was built in Skopje between 1566 and 1572, and the clock was brought from occupied Sige (Kreševljaković, 1991,497)

Clock towers were usually erected in the centres of town čaršijas (craft and trade zones) by mosques, as the endowments of individual vakifs or endowers, although there are some in other locations, such as the Maglaj clock tower erected in the bailey of the Maglaj fort, or those in Tešanj, Gradačac or Počitelj.

            Clock towers are tall buildings, square in cross section, usually stone built and with a pyramidal roof.  In appearance they are reminiscent of the towers of Romanesque churches, although they differ essential in other features, both structural and decorative.  Below the roof of a clock tower there was usually a cornice, and below this four apertures, one on each facade, where the clock and striking mechanism were located.  The clocks were connected to a bell.  In addition to these four openings, there were also loopholes on the clock towers, arrayed from the base to the top.  These apertures served to let in a modicum of light to illuminate the steep wooden staircase that led to the clock mechanism.  The stairs were set into the walls and had landings in the angles.  The endowers provided for the clock towers' maintenance.  Each clock tower had an official responsible for winding up the clock, while a sahačija or clock-maker was responsible for repairs.

            During the Ottoman period, with the urban development of various towns, 21 clock towers were erected in Bosnia and Herzegovina, (Kreševljaković, 1991, 496.) In his work Sahat kule u BiH (Clock Towers in BiH) H. Kreševljeković describes 19 such buildings: two in Travnik, and one each in Banja Luca, Donji Vakuf, Foča, Gornji Vakuf, Gračanica, Gradačac, Livno, Jajce, Maglaj, Mostar, Nevesinje, Počitelj, Prozor, Prusac, Sarajevo, Tešanj and Trebinje.   In addition to these, until 1878 there were another two, one in Stolac and one in Sarajevo alongside the White Mosque in Vratnik, built of wood in 1874.  The clock from the Gazi Husrevbeg clock tower was built into this tower, and since it rocked in high winds, the local inhabitants of the surrounding mahalas pulled it down, fearful that it would fall of its own accord and injure someone (Kreševljaković, 1991, 496).

            The settlement of Gračanica originates from the middle ages and began near an iron mine.  In 1463 Gračanica came under Ottoman rule for the first time, only to fall to Magyar rule in 1464 and to the Ottomans for the second time in 1520.  In 1572 it became the seat of a large kadiluk extending from the river Spreča to the river Sava, and taking in the following settlements: Srebrenik, Gradačac, Orašje, Modriču and Šamac.  From 1600 it became a major Bosnian centre for trade and crafts and had a čaršija and at least eight mahalas and as many mosques.

            The Gračanica čaršija began to evolve on its present site and with its present basic urban features after 1697, when the Austrian army, under the leadership of Prince Eugene of Savoy, ransacked and burned Gračanica and many other towns and settlements (Dobor, Doboj, Maglaj and Sarajevo) in the course of his campaign in the Bosna valley.  This event was a turning point in the spatial and urban development of the kasaba (town) of Gračanica and its čaršija; it acquired a new appearance, which it has in essence retained to this day.

            The main urban elements, mostly stone-built, in the Gračanica čaršija, were built by Ahmed-paša, who settled there after the fall of Buda in 1686, hence his nickname Budimlija.  His name is linked to the building of the čaršija mosque, clock tower and hammam.  In the great fire that swept through the čaršija in 1812, the clock tower was badly damaged and the hammam burned out entirely.  The clock tower was later renovated, as recorded in an Arabic manuscript preserved in the Gračanica medresa.  There were various different buildings around the clock tower, merchants' and artisans' workshops, single-storey wooden buildings with small shops and workshops with ćefeneci (wooden flaps that could be opened to display goods) in front.

            The Gračanica clock tower is one of the more important buildings of this period and a specific  type of public building for the architectural and urban development of the town and a central feature for the identification of the Gračanica čaršija, of which it is an integral part.

            At first it kept time a la turque. Until World  War II it continued to serve its purpose.  The Austrian authorities removed its bell and mounted it on a bunker to serve as an alarm (Kreševljaković, 1991,501)


Legal status to date

            By Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina the building was placed under the protection of the state and entered in the register of cultural monuments.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Clock Tower in Gračanica as a Category II building.

            The draft town plan for Gračanica provides for a project of repair and rehabilitation of the clock tower to be drawn up.


2. Description of the monument

            The clock tower in Gračanica, like most of its counterparts, is in the very centre of the old čaršija or commercial market and crafts centre, close to the Čaršija or Ahmed-paša mosque, with the two buildings constituting the most important buildings of the period in the town.

            The clock tower is a central element in the identification of an old čaršija – a specific public building that was indispensable for the architectural and urban development of a settlement.  It forms an integral part of the čaršija, its vertical lines forming part of the overall vista of the town.

            The clock tower is conceptually and compositionally intimately linked with the spatial treatment of the Gračanica čaršija.  It is a single-space building with an almost square ground plan with the sides measuring approximately 3.60 x 3.60 metres.  It is built of stone, and the walls, in common with most buildings of this type, are massive, with an average thickness of 80 cm.  The limestone blocks are bonded with lime mortar.

            The clock tower in Gračanica has the form of a tower gradually narrowing to the top, at a height of 27.0 metres. It does stand perpendicularly but leans to one side, which earned it the name of the Crooked Tower in Gračanica.  This is true not only of this clock tower but also of others such as those in Gradačac and Banja Luka.

            The tower is topped by a polygonal roof, with a dormer window in the central area projecting above the rest of the roof surface by 70-80 cm.  The roof was probably originally clad with shingles, which were removed during later works and replaced with sheet metal.  During the latest works, in 2003, the clock tower roof was clad with copper sheeting. 

            Below the roof are four round apertures, one on each side, to hold the clocks.  The entrance is to the west, and the opening is vaulted.  The interior of the building has a narrow wooden staircase 60 cm wide with landings every 1.60 metres.  The interior of the building is lit via narrow apertures widening towards the interior, arrayed from the ground floor to the top of the building.

            The clock tower has undergone a series of changes over the years, mainly to its appearance.  The facade of was stuccoed, probably in 1952 when repairs were carried out. 


3. Research and conservation and restoration works

            Structural repair works have been carried out on the clock tower in Gračanica on several occasions.  The first was after the fire of 1812, when the clock tower was renovated and restored, as recorded by an Arabic manuscript that is preserved in the Gračanica medresa.  The next repairs were in 1952, when the roof cladding was replaced, the staircase repaired, the façade stuccoed and clocks installed.  The most recent repairs were conducted by Gračanica municipality in 2003, when the roof was rebuilt, a new copper cladding was laid, and the interior staircase was repaired.


4. Current condition of the building

            The clock tower in Gračanica is in fairly good condition. The roof was redone this year (2003), repairs to the internal stairway were made and the clocks already ordered from France were installed.  Clocks have been installed on a number of previous occasions.  In 1878 the Austrian authorities procured clocks from Vienna, clocks were again installed in 1952, and the most recent were installed in 1970 and removed in 1986 for repairs, following which they were not replaced.  Works on the clock tower, including the most recent in 2003, have not been based purely on the principles of restoration, which has resulted in alterations to the original materials used and the authentic appearance of the building.  Though some parts of the building have been replaced using inadequate materials, it is not possible to ascertain if this has caused lasting damage to the building. Cracks have been noted on the walls of the facade, probably only in the layer of stucco.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, adopted at the fourth session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (3 to 9 September 2002), 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.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

D. Clarity

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

E. Symbolic value

E.iii. traditional value

E.v. significance for the identity of a group of people

F. Townscape/landscape value

F.i. relation to other parts of the group

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

G. Authenticity

G.iii. use and function

G.v. location and setting


            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 clock tower in Gračanica as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Gračanica Gazette no. 11, 2001


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Sahat kula u BiH (Clock Towers in BiH), Naše Starine, IV, p.20, Sarajevo 1957


Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Izabrana djela II, Sahat kule u BiH (Selected Works II, Clock Towers in BiH), pp.493 - 506, Veselin Masleša Sarajevo 1991

Clock Tower in GračanicaClock Tower in GračanicaČaršija in GračanicaEntrance to the Clock Tower
Clock Tower in Gračanica   

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