Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Mehmed-pasha Kukavica han, the historic monument

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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 25 January 2006, the Commission adopted a






The historic monument of the Mehmed-pasha Kukavica Han in Foča 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. 1586, cadastral municipality Foča, municipality Foča, Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




The Government of Republika Srpska 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 Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the protection, conservation and restoration of 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.




All works on the National Monument are prohibited other than research, repair and conservation and restoration works, and works designed for the presentation of 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 National Monument may be used for cultural and educational purposes, or for commercial and catering purposes, subject to the operations being carried out in a manner that will not be detrimental to its value as a monument.

A protective strip consists of the area covering all the cadastral plots bordering the protected site of the National Monument.

  • repairs and alterations to buildings shall be permitted subject to retaining their existing dimensions and height (all buildings on which repair works and alterations are carried out must respect the building line of adjacent buildings at both ground and upper floor levels);
  • the erection of new buildings shall be permitted subject to retaining the proportions and colour palette of existing buildings, with limits to the number of floors and size and height of the buildings, the shape, size and arrangement of windows and doors, and with the use of materials similar to the indigenous ones applied in the traditional manner (building shall be permitted solely to a maximum height of 3.50 m to the base of the roof frame, i.e. single-storey buildings, with gabled or hipped roofs with no roof dormers, timber roof structure with a pitch of 30o, clad with hollow tiles).




            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) 




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: 07.1-2-275/05-8

23 January 2006


Chair 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 19 December 2003 the Majlis (Council) of the Islamic Community of Foča submitted a request to designate the Mehmed Pasha Kukavica ensemble (mosque, medresa, mejtef, courtyard, han, clock tower, tekke, shops etc.)as a national monument.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the property of the Mehmed Pasha Kukavica Han 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:

  • 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.
  • Copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry
  • 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 eponymous endower of the historic monument of the Mehmed-pasha Kukavica Han erected the building in Foča's Gornja Čaršija (upper crafts and trades centre) near his Clock Tower and mosque.  The Han building stands on c.p. no. 1586, c.m. Foča, municipality Foča.

Historical information

Settlement in the immediate area of Foča can be traced back to the prehistoric period, but the urban settlement dates only from the mediaeval period.

The origins and development of the mediaeval settlement of Hoča (Hotča)(1) were dictated by the location of the town on two rivers, the Drina and the Ćehotina, and its site on the road linking Dubrovnik with the Moravia and Vardar valley and the central regions of the Balkan peninsula.  The route of this mediaeval road remained recognizable in the street layout of Foča(2)   in the Prijeka čaršija. (Redžić, 1983, pp. 317-343).

The Ottomans occupied Foča in 1465 (Redžić, 1983, str. 325).

For the first five years the conquered regions of the Herceg's land formed part of the Bosnian sandžak. Herzegovina was removed from rule by the Bosnian sandžakbeg and made into a separate sandžak in February 1470, from which date it was governed by its own sandžakbegs. The first of these was Hamza-beg, to whom reference can be found as early as the beginning of 1470. He held the post until 1474. During his governorship, Foča became the political and administrative centre of Herzegovina. It was also the headquarters of the Herzegovina sandžak until 1572, when they were relocated to Pljevlje, remaining there until 1763 (Bejtić, 1956, pp. 30-32).

Foča truly flourished fron the second half of the 15th to the end of the 16th century, when it was transformed from a kasaba (small town) to a šeher (major town) and an important administrative centre in Herzegovina (Redžić, 1983, p. 322).

The caravanserai in Foča is one of the few surviving hans in BiH. It was built prior to 1758 by Mehmed-pasha Kukavica, an Ottoman feudal lord, native of the village of Popa in Sutjeska, who also financed the construction of the nearby mosque and clock tower (Finci, Taubman, 1954, p. 113). The building was endowed as a waqf in 1758. Until the end of 1991 it was the property of the municipality of Foča, but in that year it was allocated for use to the Vučevo catering company of Foča. In late 1991, by verdict of the Municipal Court in Foča, it was restored to the possession of the Foča Board of the Islamic Community (Muftić, 1997, p. 79-81).


2. Description of the property 

A han (khan) or caravanserai is a building in which travellers could find overnight accommodation and room for their pack animals and goods, and which was also used to conduct trade. 

The Mehmed-pasha Kukavica caravanserai, also known as the Great Han, is a two-storey building (ground floor and upper floor) with a height to the ridge of approx. 6.50 m, and is a typical example of the group of hans without a courtyard, rectangular in ground plan, measuring 15.40 x 3.40 m, of very simple layout. The ground floor contained the commercial premises – a single large stable, and magazines to the right and left of the entrance, one on each side, to house the goods the travellers were buying and selling.  By the main entrance were steps leading to the central landing on the first floor, around which the bedrooms were arranged. On the narrower side of the landing were an abdesthana (for ritual ablutions before prayer) and toilets.

The central first-floor landing had no ceiling, as is almost invariably the case with hans, leaving the rafters exposed. The exposed roof structure meant that smoke could escape through the badžas (dormers) in the roof. The bedrooms also lacked ceilings and chimneys, so that smoke from the stoves in the bedrooms also used to escape through the dormers, via the hall.  Where there was no stove to heat a room, it would be heated by means of charcoal on a metal brazier, the mangala; in such cases, the landing was also used as a place for the charcoal to burn up. The arrangement and position of the dormers was such as to ensure that the premises received natural light and permanent ventilation and to allow the smoke to escape from the central area and rooms.

There was almost no furniture in the rooms. The only furnishings were low wooden beds and rugs. Every other necessity (mattresses, blankets and so on) was carried by each traveller for himself, as was the custom in those days (Finci, Taubman, 1954, p. 114)

In 1953/54 work began on the restoration and part conversion of the caravanserai, under the management of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH. The project provided for the building to be converted into a hotel. While the project documentation was being drawn up, the following description of the building was given:

“The ground floor of this caravanserai are stone built, and the upper floor is half-timbered, with an unbaked (adobe) brick infill, each brick measuring 15 x 15 x 30 cm. The ground floor walls, which are from 60 to 75 cm thick, are load-bearing, taking the entire weight of the upper storey. The floor joists are of oak beams fitted tight together, over which was a coating of clay, followed by a layer of stringers and a wooden floor. Because of its greater span, the part of the ceiling above the stables was supported by a large wooden bearer and stood on four wooden pillars. To prevent the pillars from settling and rotting, they were set on stone pile shoes. All the doors in the caravanserai were wooden, with wrought iron fittings, except for the doors to the magazines, which were made of slabs of iron. The ground floor windows had iron bars“ (Finci, Taubman, 1954, p. 115).


Since no detailed description of the Han prior to restoration works has survived, the only available indication of its previous appearance is from old photographs and two ground plans of the buildingn to be found in Ayverdi Dr. Ekrem Hakki, Avrupa'da Osmanli Mimari Eserlera Yugoslavya II, 3. kitab, Istanbul, 2000, p. 152.

A comparison with these ground plans of the building with the restoration project reveals alterations to the structure of the building arising from the works conducted in 1953/54.  Part of the interventions on the building was described in Naše starine II - Finci Jahiel, Taubman Ivan, Restauracija karavan-saraja Mehmed-paše Kukavice u Foči, 1954.

“The project did not provide for major works on the structure of the building nor was the layout altered to any great extent.  Instead of the former ground-floor stable, a restaurant of the ašćinica type was made, with dining area, kitchen, bar and storeroom. The former magazines were adapted to provide a toilet block and food store. The remaining commercial premises were to be sited in a low stone-built extension abutting onto the left-hand side wall of the han. The first-floor rooms were retained for the most part in their original size, and adapted to provide accommodation for 3 to 5 persons.  One of the rooms was set aside for use by the hall porter, and another was turned into bathrooms. Water and drainage pipes were laid through the thick walls only, with no provision for running water in the rooms. The introduction of chimneys was a particular problem, since the design project made provision for earthenware stoves to be installed in the rooms. To avoid spoiling the exterior appearance of the building, the plan was to build the chimneys beneath the actual roof and to allow for the smoke to escape through specially designed fire-proof dormers.  The entrance doors to the rooms were to be made to match the original ones, of pine wood with wrought iron fittings. The first floor windows were to have vertical casements, and the ground floor windows were again to have iron bars. The ceilings in the bedrooms were plastered, while the ceiling of the new ground-floor dining room was of wooden boards. All the floors on the first floor were laid with oak board, and that of the restaurant was clad with a type of brick known as tugla“ (Finci, Taubman, 1954, p. 118).


A comparison of the ground-plans of the building before and after restoration reveals additional alterations, as follows:

1. On the ground floor, the following changes were made:

  • A double-flight angled staircase was to replace the former single-flight staircase leading to the first floor of the han;
  • The former open-plan central area of the stables was subdivided into four: a central dining room area, a kitchen with bar and a service area;
  • The entrance area of the han was provided with a paravent divided into two sections;
  • The doors that previously led from the open entrance area to the side magazines were walled up, as were the two doors that allow for direct access to the magazines from the street (changes to the main entrance facade at ground-floor level);
  • The side magazines were turned into cloakroosm and service areas by being partitioned and doors were pierced through the side walls into the central inner area of the han;
  • Two doors were pierced on the south-west side facade of the building to provide access to the service area; there were also changes to the number of windows on this facade, three instead of the former two;
  • New windows were also pierced on the right-hand, north-east facade of the han, where five were made instead of the existing two;
  • The new project design provided for the construction of additional service areas in the form of a courtyard enclosed by six premises and a separate side entrance, abutting onto the north-west facade of the han at ground-floor level.

2. The interventions to the structure and layout of the premises on the first floor were as follows:

  • Changes to the size of five rooms from the existing seven, which entailed demolishing old partition walls and building new ones, to gain an area with six bedrooms, a smaller central landing, an additional porter's room, storeroom and bathroom block;
  • The changes to the layout of the building resulted in changes to the treatment of the windows on the facades.  On the rear, north-west facade of the building, the existing ten windows were replaced following the works by five. The side, south-west facade gained another window in addition to the existing three. The opposite, north-east side facade gained another window in addition to the existing five.The main entrance facade facing the street retained its previous appearance at first-floor level, with nine windows.

As the comparison reveals, significant changes to the structure, particularly of the facades, and to the interior layout of the han resulted from the restoration. An analysis of the current condition of the interior of the building enables one to observe (at ground floor level at least, since it was not possible to gain access to the first floor) that the changes came about in line with the proposed design of the 1950s Restoration Project. An inspection of the facades of the building revealed that here too the interventions conformed to the proposals in the Restoration Project. Since there are no available written records of the changes in the materialization of the interior features observable during analysis of the current condition, it is impossible to say whether these date from the 1950s interventions or from subsequent works carried out in the 1990s to adapt the ground floor into a disco-club (materialization and colour of the floors and walls of the central ground-floor area and interior fixtures and fittings found in situ).


3. Legal status to date

The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 lists the urban ensemble of Foča (the čaršija, 3 mosques, the han, the clock tower, two tombstones by the mosque, and the turbe [mausoleum]) as a Category I monument.

The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 lists the Kukavica han and part of Mehmed-pasha Kukavica's medresa in Foča as Category III monuments.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, no. 1315/50 dated 1950, the Kukavica caravanserai in Foča was placed under state protection.

Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, no. 02-728-3 dated 1962, the Kukavica caravanserai, a catering establishment of Ottoman architecture in Foča owned by the Islamic Religious Community, was entered on the register of immovable cultural monuments under no. 199.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

  • In 1953/54, works were carried out on the restoration and conversation of the Mehmed-pasha Kukavica caravanserai. This 18th century building was dilapidated, so that the designers were compelled to dismantle the entire roof structure and first floor and rebuild them using reinforced concrete in some places inside the building (Naše starine II, 1954, p. 268).
  • In 1978, a Programme for the Revitalization of the Prijeka čaršija was drawn up, which involved surveying the existing condition, and historical research into the buildings within the ensemble (Various authors, 1983, p. 8).

5. Current condition of the property

An on-site inspection in November 2005 ascertained as follows:  

  • There is noticeable deterioration of all the structural elements both inside and out, as a result of weathering, atmospheric influences, and neglect;
  • Traces of damp are visible on the walls on both exterior facades and inside the building, which has resulted in damage to the plaster in some places;
  • Major damage is visible to the roof structure from the outside of the building as a result of some of the wooden rafters being constantly exposed to the elements;
  • Neglect has resulted in the roof cladding being breached in certain places, so that damage is also visible to the floor and ceiling joists on the first and ground floors (major damage visible to the timber structure and facing as the result of constant exposure to damp);
  • Neglect and lack of use have resulted in all the ground-floor and first-floor windows being removed;
  • All the glazing is missing from the windows and doors on the ground and first floors;
  • Neglect and lack of use have resulted in observable damage to all the interior and extereior woodwork, both mechanical damage and damage resulting from constant exposure to damp;
  • Since the staircase leading to the first floor was removed during the most recent interventions on the building, in the late 1990s, when the ground floor of the han was converted into a disco-club, it was not possible to visit the first floor of the building. All that was possible was to observe, through certain gaps in the ceiling joists, that there was damage resulting from neglect and constant exposure to damp on the first-floor joists and the roof structure;
  • Since it was not possible to find any documents concerning the most recent alterations to the premises, on the basis of the part-surviving written records of the restoration and adaption of the han in the 1950s, it may be assumed that it was then that changes arose to the appearance of the building before any of the alterations were carried out: instead of the four wooden pillars in the central area of the ground floor, referred to prior to the 1950s restoration, the interior now contains reinforced concrete pillars painted black; the load-bearing timber beams of the inter-floor joists have been covered with wooden cladding of black-painted boards; the ceiling joists have been treated in the same way with black-painted staves laid at an angle of 45°; instead of the former tugla brick flooring of the central area, it is now paved with ceramic and terrazzo tiles of various sizes, as are the adjacent premises (counter, toilets, cloakrooms);
  • As a result of damp penetration into the walls and lack of maintenance, the wall structure is cracked in a number of places, with both horizontal and vertical visible cracks in the plaster, particularly marked on the rear, north-west and side, north-east of the building.



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.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

D. Clarity

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

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

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 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

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        Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

o        Photodocumentation;

o        Drawings




1954.   Finci Jahiel, Taubman Ivan, Restauracija karavan-saraja Mehmed-paše Kukavice u Foči (Restoration of the caravanserai of Mehmed-pash Kukavica in Foča) Naše starine II, Annual of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1954.


1956.    Bejtić, Alija, Povijest i umjetnost Foče na Drini (History and art of Foča on the Drina), Naše starine III, Annual of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1956.


1956.-1957. Bejtić, Alija: Bosanski namjesnik Mehmed paša Kukavica i njegove zadužbine u Bosni (1752-1756 i 1757-1760) (The Bosnian governor Mehmed pasha Kukavica and his endowments in Bosnia, 1752-1756 and 1757-1760), Contributions to Oriental Philology, nos VI-VII, Sarajevo, 1956-1957.


1957.    Bejtić, Alija, Povijest i umjetnost Foče na Drini (History and art of Foča on the Drina), Naše starine IV, Annual of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Rarities of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1957.


1962.    Naše starine VIII, Bejtić, Alija, Povijest i umjetnost Foče na Drini (History and art of Foča on the Drina), Naše starine III, Annual of the National Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1962.


1978.    Kovačević-Kojić, Desanka, Gradska naselja srednjevjekovne bosanske države (Urban settlements of the mediaeval Bosnian state), IP «Veselin Masleša», Sarajevo, 1978.


1983.    Redžić, Husref, Studije o islamskoj arhitektonskoj baštini (Studies of the Islamic architectural heritage), Cultural Heritage Series,  Sarajevo,  1983


1983.    Various authors (Academician Prof. Husref Redžić, Lecturer Nedžad Kurto MA, Ferid Isanović): Program revitalizacije i regeneracije istorijskog područja grada Foče. Urbanističko-arhitektonsko rješenje zone Prijeke čaršije (Programme for the revitalization and regeneration of the historic area of the town of Foča, town planning and architectural treatment of the area of the Prijeka čaršija), Assembly of Foča Municipality, Foča, 1983.


1991.    Kreševljaković, Hamdija, Izabrana djela III, Banje u Bosni i Hercegovini (Selected Works III, Baths in BiH), IP Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1991.


1996.    Çelebi, Evliya, Putopis – odlomci o jugoslovenskim zemljama (Travelogue – excerpts on Yugoslav Lands), Sarajevo Publishing, Sarajevo, 1996.


1997.    Muftić, Faruk, Foča: 1470-1996, Sarajevo, 1997.


1998.    Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic Epigraphis of BiH), bk. II, Sarajevo-Publishing,  Sarajevo, 1998.


2000.    Ayverdi Dr. Ekrem Hakki, Avrupa'da Osmanli Mimari Eserlera Yugoslavya II, 3. kitab, Istanbul, 2000.


(1) The earliest reference to Hoča as a marketplace (mercatum) dates from 1366 (Kovačević-Kojić, 1978, p.42). Since the document refers to Foča as a sizeable trading centre, its history may be assumed to reach back into the much more distant past.

(2) The first time the name Foča appears in place of the mediaeval name Hoča is in a defter dating from 1519 (Redžić, 1983, p. 324)


Endowment of Mehmed-paša Kukavica in Foča, archival photograph Endowment of Mehmed-paša Kukavica, photograph from 2004Mehmed-pasha Kukavica han and Clock towerMehmed-pasha Kukavica han, photograph from 1954
Mehmed-pasha Kukavica hanEntrance to the han  

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