Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Old crosses in Drežnica, the historic site

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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 19 to 23 January 2006 the Commission adopted a






The historic site of the old crosses in Drežnica near Mostar is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of four cruciform tombstones.           

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 9690, Land Register entry no. x, cadastral municipality Drežnica, City of Mostar, 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 measures are hereby stipulated:

Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.  The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

  • all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, routine maintenance works, and works designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (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,
  • infrastructure works shall be permitted only with the approval of the relevant ministry and the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority,
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited,
  • the tombstones shall be cleared of overgrowth,
  • the graffiti shall be removed from the tombstones,
  • a programme for the presentation of the National Monument shall be drrawn up and implemented.



            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 relevant ministry, the 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.




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: 05.1-2-295/05-4

20 January 2006



Chairman of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


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.

On DATE, XXX submitted a proposal/petition to designate the historic site of the old crosses in Drežnica as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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 valley of the river Drežanjka, the central course of which runs through a deep gorge, is relatively densely populated by a number of small rural communities, which can be regarded in general terms as Donja (Lower) and Gornja (Upper) Drežnica. The valley is about 20 km long and has just two natural outlets, one at each end – the confluence of the Drežanjka and the Neretva to the east and Klanci by the plateau around Lake Blidinje, above its source, to the west.   To the north the area is surrounded by the Čvrsnica mountain massif, and to the south by that of Čabulja.

The villages of Gornja Drežnica are: Striževo, Zagreblje, Bunčići, Poglavica, Lisičine and Draga, and those of Donja Drežnicaare Ušće, Donje Selo, Žlib, Kosirica, Perutac, Rogebrdo and Inač.

            Some 2 km from the village of Striževo, in the hamlet of Sveća, are some old cruciform tombstones.  They are now in a secondary position, a few metres from their

Historical information

The area around the river Drežanjka belonged to the early mediaeval župa (county) of Večenike – Večerić, which bordered those of Rama and Duvno.  A hoard of Byzantine coins consisting of some 300 gold coins minted during the reign of Emperor Romanus III Argyrus(1)  dates from the early mediaeval period.   During the period of late feudalism a number of territorial-cum-political units operated within the county.  When the county of Večenike broke up, the first to take shape was Broćno, followed by Blato. The remainder of the territory continued to be known as Večerić (Večenike), though by the early 15th century still more administrative units – Planina, Polje and Drežnica – had become detached from it.  Although small as regards population numbers and area, Drežnica enjoyed a degree of administrative and political autarchy, on account of its geographical isolation (P. Anđelić, 1976. 274).

From 1325 on, the area formed part of Bosnia, ruled by the Kotromanić dynasty.  From 1357, along with western Hum, it belonged to Hungary's King Ludovic I, as the dowry of his wife Jelisaveta, daughter of Stjepan Kotromanić.  Following the death of King Ludovic, the region became part of the mediaeval Bosnian state, where it remained until at least 1463.

During the reign of Tvrtko I Kotromanić, the Bosnian noble Mastan Bubanjić lived in Drežnica.  He is referred to as a witness in royal charters dating from 1354 and 1355.  In the 14th century he had his own estate in Blidinje, Masna Luka, where he and his sons were cattle farmers.  A 14th century inscription in Bosnian Cyrillic, carved into the living rock in Donja Drežnica, refers to him.

The earliest reference to Drežnica in written sources dates from 1408, in a deed of gift of King Ostoja, which included the bestowal of the "provincia" of Drežnica as a holding of the brothers Radivojević(2). 

The crosses in Drežnica can be roughly dated to the second half of the 14th and the 15th centuries (Bešlagić, Š. 1956).


2. Description of the property

The necropolis consists of four crosses(3),  ranged north-south.

Tombstone no. 1 is 138 cm in height. The width at the base is 49 cm, and the thickness 34 cm.   It is cut from limestone, and is now broken off diagonally at the level of the cross-arms.  All the angles are rounded.  The stećak tombstone is richly decorated.  The top of the cross was rounded, almost semicircular, somewhat narrower at the top.  At the intersection, towards the western cross-arm, was the carved figure of a snake, 24 cm long.  The upper triangular area was divided at the centre into two sections by a vertical line; within the sections, at the same height, two swastikas 9 cm across were incised (Š. Bešlagić, 1956. 178).  It can be inferred from Bešlagić’s description and photographs dating from 1956 that the tombstone is now very different from what it was in 1956.

            On the front, the cross section is divided into four by intersecting diagonal lines.  These lines extend vertically and horizontally on all four sides, but cannot be further made out as a result of damage.  The vertical lines extend to the foot of the cross, creating a panel in which there is the carved figure of a man.  In his right hand the man is holding a raised, slightly slanting sword.  His left hand is on his hip, and his feet are turned outwards.  The figure is 42 cm in height. Above it, in a small triangular area, is the carved figure of a horse, 21 cm in length.   A St Andrew's cross (X) is incised below the figure.  To the right and left is a border of double wavy lines.

            On the surviving part of the eastern side a vertical border of simple, deeply incised lines can be seen, extending over the entire length towards the top of the cross.  The outlines of a “kijača” (cudgel)(4) 50 cm in length are incised at the centre of the area, below the cross-arms.  There is a similar border of incised parallel lines on the other side, with an incised zigzag line between them.

            The tombstone is so badly damaged on the northern side that it is possible to make out only in part a border of a simple line extending vertically along the edges of the cross.

Tombstone no. 2 differs from the other three in its cross-arms, which each have a single-stepped moulding on the upper side.  The height of the tombstone above ground is 130 cm, the width at the base is 37 cm, and the thickness is 34 cm. The cross-arms are 37 cm in height, of which 10 cm is the step.  All the edges are rounded. The upper vertical arm is semicircular at the top and somewhat narrowed at the back.

As is the case with tombstone no. 1, the central square of the intersection is divided into squares by incised diagonals.  The right and left angles of the diagonals are enhanced by incised lines.

A border of an incised line runs along the edges of the entire front face of the tombstone. Below the cross-section is the figure of a man with arms outstretched.  Above the head, to the ends of the arms, is an incised semicircular line. The figure is 37 cm in height and 18 cm wide including the outspread arms.  At the top of the upper arm, parallel with the edge, is yet another incised semicircular line.

The sides have borders of incised lines that meet at the top of the cross.  The back of the tombstone is damaged, as a result of which it cannot be ascertained whether it was decorated (Š. Bešlagić, 1956. 178).

Tombstone no. 3 is 140 cm in height, 44 cm in width at the base and 75 cm at the cross-arms, and 33 cm in thickness.   The front of the upper part of the vertical arm of the cross is semicircular and the back is narrowed.  It is decorated on every side.

The front (south) face has a border of an incised line running parallel with the edges.  The cross-section is decorated with a St Andrew's cross (X) and a carved cross (45 x 30 cm),  the arms of which broaden at the rounded ends.  To the right of the cross is a carved crescent moon with a diameter of 22 cm, and to the left are two incised swastikas (12 x 12 cm).  Between the cross-section and the lower arm is an incised horizontal line joined on the upper side by two small slanting lines and below by three letters with a small line in the middle.  The design is reminiscent of a zigzag line border.  Below this design is a bas-relief scene of three male figures with their arms on each others' shoulders.  The free hands of the end figures are not shown.  Their feet are pointing outwards.  The scene is separated from the lower part of the cross by an incised horizontal line. The north face has a carved cross (65 x 55 cm), with broadened rounded ends. The arms are interlinked by diagonal incised lines.

The east side has a border of incised lines meeting at the top of the cross. The upper edge of the cross-arm is accentuated by two horizontal lines.  The cross-arms and the top of the cross each have a carved boss.  Below the cross-arm is an upright, slightly angled sword with cross-guard, hilt and rounded terminal pommell.  The sword is 47 cm long and the cross-guard 14 cm wide.

The west side of the tombstone has a border of incised lines and two carved bosses in the same places as the east side..

Tombstone no. 4 is 138 cm in height, 33 cm in width at the base and 85 cm at the cross-arms, and 30 cm thick.   The front and rear faces are decorated. The south face has a border of a single incised line running parallel with the edges.  At the top of the cross, near the centre, the lines are angled to meet at the centre, forming the sides of an equilateral triangle.  The cross-section has a carved crescent moon with a span of 28 cm and three carved bosses with a diameter of 9 cm, set irregularly one below the other.   To the right and left, on each of the cross-arms, is a male figure, 18 cm in height. The outlines of the figure are lightly incised.  At the rounded top of the cross is another crescent moon facing downwards, and damaged.  The lower arm has a carved cross 30 cm in height and 24 cm in width, with the ends in the form of bosses.

The back of the tombstone has a similar carved cross, 56 cm in height and 60 cm in width.


3. Legal status to date

There are no details of previous legal protection.

The property is not on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments; the decision is based upon the petition referred to above.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

Thus far no conservation or restoration works have been carried out on the stećak tombstones in Drežnica.


5. Current condition of the property

An on site inspection in November 2005 ascertained as follows:

The tombstones are overgrown and in very poor condition.Tombstone no. 1 is particularly badly damaged, now lacking its cross-arms. The tombstones have been scrawled with graffiti over the decoration.


6. Specific risks to which the monument is exposed

The crosses are at risk from the construction of a road and retaining wall in the immediate vicinity.  As a result of the crosses having been moved from their original position, it is impossible to view them properly from all sides. A garage has been built some ten metres to the west of the crosses.




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.v. value of details

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

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

-    Photodocumentation from the site, November 2005: photographs 1 to 10.



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


1956.   Bešlagić, Šefik,  Stari krstovi u Drežnici, Naše starine III, Sarajevo, 1956. 179 -188.


1965.   Wenzel, Marian, Ukrasni motivi na stećcima (Decorative motifs on stećak tombstones) Sarajevo, 1965.


1971.   Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećak tombstones, a catalogue and topographical survey), Sarajevo, 1971. 142-143.


1976.   Anđelić, Pavao, Srednjovjekovna župa Večenike-Večerić (Mediaeval county of Večenike-Večerić), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, archaeology, Sarajevo, 1976. 259 -279.


1982.   Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci-kultura i umjetnost (Stećak tombstones – culture and art), Sarajevo, 1982.


1982.   Stojaković, Velibor, Etno-socijalni okviri života stanovništva Drežnice (Ethno-social context of the life of the population of Drežnica) Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, ethnology, Sarajevo, 1982. 189-218.


1983.   Niškanović, Miroslav, Porijeklo stanovništva Drežnice (Origins of the population of Drežnica), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, ethnology, Sarajevo, 1983, 1 – 61.


1988.   Various authors, Arheološki leksikon Bosne i Hercegovine (Archaeological lexicon of BiH) vol. 3, National Museum in Sarajevo, Sarajevo 1988.


2004.   Niškanović, Miroslav, Naselja Drežnice i njihovo stanovništvo – Srednji vijek sa najstarijom istorijom i turski period (The settlement of Drežnica and its inhabitants – mediaeval period with ancient history and Turkish period), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, ethnology, Sarajevo, 2004, 127-184.


2005.   Proceedings of the First International Symposium Blidinje 2005 (16.09 -17.09.2005).


(1) Lost. From the 11th century (AL BiH, vol. 3, 1988. 205.)

(2) The term "provincia" means an administrative district, a rural municipality, a knežija (area under the rule of a knez, translatable as village chief), and only secondarily a župa or county. (P. Anđelić, 1976. 266).

(3) According to information from Ivan Šarić of Gornja Drežnica, the graves beneath the crosses have been excavated.  In about 1937 Don Nikola Jurić, who was for many years a Catholic priest in Donja Drežnica, and about ten people from the surrounding villages, excavated these graves, believing that a bishop was buried in one of them together with an episcopal ring.  According to Šarić, who was present at the excavations, the first three graves contained skeletons in wooden coffins, while the fourth also had a stone cover.  The heads were by the crosses and the feet pointing forward.  A circular metal object was found in the last grave and returned to the tomb; the other graves had no grave goods (Š. Bešlagić, 1956.183-184).

(4) Kijača  (ethnol.) 1. club thicker at one end; bludgeon, cugdel 2. rod with a large wide section for driving fish in a river ( Anić, Rječnik hrvatskoga jezika [Dictionary of the Croatian Language], Zagreb, 2000 ).



Old crosses in DrežnicaOld crossesCross No.1 Cross No.2
Cross No.3Cross No.4  

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