Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Provisional List

About the Provisional List

List of Petitions for Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Heritage at Risk

60th session - Decisions

Semiz Ali Pasha turbe with harem of the Semiz Ali Pasha mosque, the architectural ensemble

gallery back

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 4 to 10 July 2006 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the Semiz Ali Pasha turbe with harem of the Semiz Ali Pasha mosque in Prača, Pale is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the turbe, the remains of a mosque, and the harem.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 198, Land Register entry no. 269, cadastral municipality Donja Prača, Municipality Pale, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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, 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 Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the protection, conservation and presentation 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.




To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, which shall apply to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision:

  • all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works and works to reconstruct missing parts of the turbes (parts of the window frames and casings, stone string courses, stalactites, latticework) in their original form, of the same size, using the same or the same type of material and the same techniques wherever possible, based on documentation on its original form, works to rehabilitate the mosque and works designed to prersent the monument, 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. 

The following are required during rehabilitation of the mosque:

  • the mosque shall be rehabilitated on its original site;
  • during rehabilitation the original proportions and appearance of the building shall be retained, with the same horizontal and vertical dimensions; such modern materials as most closely resemble the original may be used;
  • all parts and fragments that may be found on the site of the mosque or that are located in the harem of the mosque, including fragments of the walls and other parts of the mosque, shall be recorded, studied, conserved and reintegrated into the reconstructed building wherever possible;
  • fragments that are too badly damaged to be reintegrated shall be suitably conserved and presented within the architectural ensemble.



            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 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. 457.




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: 07.2-2-99/06-4

5 July 2006


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 Semiz Ali Pasha turbe in Prača to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 457.

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 register 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 

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 National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 198, Land Register entry no. 269, cadastral municipality Donja Prača, Municipality Pale, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

Prača is located on the route of the old road that followed the course of the eponymous river. This route was established by the Illyrian Desidiati tribe, which settled the area at the end of the Bronze Age, or beyond doubt by the Romans when establishing the busy roads system linking the former Narona (Metković) with the Drina and Danube valley regions. Later, in the mediaeval period, this route was also followed by the historic Bosnian road known as the Bosanska džada, which ran from central Europe through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The section of this road through Prača, Goražde and Novi Pazar linked Sarajevo with Istanbul. Later, the Austro-Hungarian authorities laid a narrow-gauge railway along the same route. In mediaeval times there was a major market in the settlement, which stood on a crossroads, one road from which led to Borač, where the Radinović-Pavlović family's mansion stood. By the 13th century there is already reference to the bishopric of Prača (Mazalić, p. 40), and by the 14th century it was a fully developed market town with a colony of Dubrovnik merchants (Tafro, Naše starine II, p. 221).

Tafro notes in Naše starine II:

“The importance of Prača after this part of Bosnia came under Turkish rule is attested to by a certain number of buildings that survived after that period. These were the ruins of the Ćemaluša mosque, the remains of a bath-house and of one of the monumental water-pipe systems, the remains of two drinking fountains on the left bank of the river, and the Mahala mosque with turbe on the right bank. In addition, the traces of a very large han [hostel] can be seen here. The minaret of the Mahala mosque can compete with the finest minarets in BiH in its elegance and artistically-worked details (the šerefe [balcony] composed of stone slabs with skilfully carved arabesques), whereas the present-day mosque building is insignificant and modest, which must certainly mean that the original building was badly damaged in some disaster, and later disappeared altogether.“

            The turbe (mausoleum) of the founder of the mosque stands close to the mosque itself; his wife and child are buried in it with him. Tafro notes in Naše starine II that documents pertaining to the construction of the mosque (he does not state which documents) reveal that its founder was one Husein Pasha, so that it would be he who is buried in the turbe with his wife and child(1).

            During the fascist occupation of World War II the turbe was used as a bunker for a German crew; later it and the mosque were torched by the Chetniks (Tafro, Naše starine II, 223). After World War II the mosque was fully restored. In 1992 it was dynamited and completely destroyed, but the turbe survived, albeit desecrated.


2. Description of the property

The architectural ensemble consists of the site and remains of the mosque, the turbe, and the harem (burial ground).

Mahala mosque

The mosque building was completely destroyed in 1992. According to Mujezinović, it had a particularly handsome, slender minaret with a skilfully made šerefe. The decoration of the minaret indicates that the original mosque in Prača was imposing in size and appearance. Like other mosques in the area, it was probably clad with wooden shingles, which were destroyed by some fire or other. Until 1943 a šadrvan fountain still stood outside the mosque.


The turbe is about 10 metres to the south-east of the mosque. It belongs to the type of enclosed turbe with a dome.

In ground plan the turbe is hexagonal, with the sides measuring roughly 4.00 metres on the outside, and 2.80 m on the inside.  The width of the turbe at the centre is 5.60 metres. The walls are of cut limestone blocks in lime mortar, with quoins of cut tufa blocks. The building was originally plastered and whitewashed both inside and out.

The transition from the load-bearing walls to the dome is effected by pendentives where the hexagonal plan of the turbe meets the twelve-sided drum, which is 1.05 m in height. The dome that rests on the drum is made of tufa and clad with sheet copper. It was previously clad with sheet lead, which was stripped off in the mid 19th century and replaced by board roofing (Tafro, Naše starine II, p. 222). The dome is 2.40 m in height and an average of 44 cm thick.

At the top of the wall, at a height of 4.72 m, is a moulded stone cornice, 40 cm in height. The total height of the turbe with the dome is about 7.20 metres.

The entrance to the turbe is to the south-west. The portal area of the turbe is accentuated by moulded tufa string courses. Above the portal is a miljevina (type of limestone) plaque with no inscription of any kind(2). Above the entrance door and the plaque with the inscription was a semicircular wooden porch, the remains of which can still be seen on the front facade, but which was destroyed by fire during World War II. The entrance to the turbe measures 1.00 x 2.10 m. The entrance door terminates in a segmental arch. The door jambs are made of a single piece of stone with a thickness of 30 cm and a height of approx. 120 cm. The lintel is composed of a total of five blocks of stone. There is a slight deformation on the central three blocks, which probably arose at the time of building or soon after. The door is a simple wooden door, but the previous door was iron (Tafro, Naše starine II, p. 222).

The windows of the turbe are on two levels. The lower windows are rectangular, and are 90 cm wide.They have greenish stone(3)  frames with rich mouldings, and terminate in a pointed arch.The upper part of the windows was fitted with perforated stone slabs with decorations forming alternating hexagons and six-pointed stars.There remains no trace of these decorations.  There were iron bars on the outside and wooden mušebak (lattice) on the inside.There are three lower windows.

            The upper windows also terminate in the form of a pointed arch, but with no special finish on the outside. There are three upper windows, which formerly had stone transennas composed of intersecting circles. There are now only the remains of these mouldings in the turbe.

The interior of the turbe was elaborately furbished. It was plastered with lime plaster and whitewashed.The pendentives are richly decorated with stalactites interlinked by another row of stalactites. Above this is a half-round string course with a height of 10 cm. There is another string course of similar moulding and size below the stalactites.There is a rectangular niche, 50 cm wide, in the south wall of the turbe.

The turbe now contains three wooden sarcophagi covered with homespun cloth.In the 1960s two were still uncovered(4), and could be seen to be faced with tufa on the inside. The broken nišan tombstones survived on the third. The headstone was inscribed on three sides with a text in six square panels: Allah is One, and Muhammad is His prophet.

The monument was made of marble. The founder of the mosque and his wife were buried here. Above their headstones is the sarcophagus of their child.


There are ten tombstones by the mosque and turbe, two of which stand out – with epitaphs dating from 1591.

Epitaph on the nišan of Husejn son of Salih

The nišan tombstone with turban stands on a green stone sarcophagus. The tombstone is carved on all four sides with an epitaph in prose in Arabic, set in eight square panels. The nišan is made of marble, and is 55 cm high and square in section, measuring 9 x 9 cm.  The script is jali naskh. The epitaph reads:

“Deceased Husejin, son of Salih. Died in the month of Rajab 999.“

 (25. IV – 24. V 1591)

Epitaph on the nišan of Sakina, daughter of Mustafa

This grave too has a green stone sarcophagus with above it a marble nišan headstone, 50 cm in height and 9 x 9 cm in section, with an undecorated girl’s cap.

The epitaph is in prose in Arabic, carved in eight square panels on all four sides of the tombstone in jali naskh script. The epitaph reads:

“Deceased Sakina, daughter of Mustafa. Died in the blessed month of Rajab 999“

(25. IV – 24. V 1591)


There is another old nišan in the harem, but the epitaph is damaged and illegible; the other tombstones are of recent date. The oldest among them, dating from 1305 AH (1887), marks the grave of Mehmed Brdarić (Mujezinović, pp. 88, 89, 90).


3. Legal status to date

The Semiz Ali Pasha turbe in Prača was placed under state protection under registration no. 180 by Ruling no. 1730/50 dated 13. 12. 1950, issued by the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments and National Rarities Sarajevo.

By Ruling no.  02-636/3 dated 18. 04. 1962, the property was entered in the register of immovable cultural monuments.

The Semiz Ali Pasha turbe in Prača is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH, under serial no. 457.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

According to information from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments, the turbes were damaged in 1943. The wooden roof was completely burnt out, and there was major damage to the walls, the windows were demolished, the stalactite decorations were damaged, the plaster was stripped off completely, the graves were damaged, the nišan tombstones were destroyed, and the door and floors were destroyed.

In 1952 repair works were carried out, as follows:

  • the parts of the walls that were in ruins were rebuilt;
  • repairs to and reconstruction of missing parts of all the mouldings were carried out and reincorporated.  The reconstructed parts were made to match the originals in every respect (size, material and form);
  • dilapidated tufa components of the dome were replaced;
  • the surface areas of the tufa were cleaned;
  • the entire outer surface of the dome was coated with cement plaster;
  • the inside walls were plastered with lime plaster;
  • the parts of the walls with stalactites were refurbished;
  • the window frames were repaired;
  • the stone door frame was repaired;
  • bars were mounted on the windows;
  • the floor was levelled and paved with stone slabs.

In 1953 the dome was clad with galvanized iron sheeting.

In the 1980s and 1990s repair works were carried out on the turbe – the dome was repaired and clad with sheet copper. These works were carried out under the supervision of the heritage protection authority of that time. There is no available documentation on the type and extent of the works and the interventions carried out at that time.


5. Current condition of the property        

An on site inspection carried out on 16. 06. 2006 ascertained the following:

  • the inhabitants of Prača have laid the foundations of a new mosque on the site of the destroyed mosque and laid concrete slabs;
  • stone fragments from the old mosque have been laid out to the north of the turbe;
  • there are too many fragments to be able to identify the part of the building they are from;
  • war damage in Prača – the dynamiting of the mosque – and long-term lack of maintenance have left the turbe damaged, mainly in the interior, where many of the stalactites have fallen off the pendentives;
  • a number of cracks can be seen on the dome, which need making good and require regular monitoring of possible shifting of the cracks;
  • the window cornices are damaged;
  • the presence of rising damp was observed inside the building;
  • local people have stored all the fragments found around the turbe and which belong to it inside the turbe;
  • the harem is in a state of neglect and badly overgrown;
  • the nišan tombstones in the harem require cleaning, restoration and conservation. 

6. Specific risks

            Failure to maintain the property.




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

E. Symbolic value

E.iii. traditional value

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

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


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-     Copy of cadastral plan

-     Copy of land register entry

-     Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of BiH

-     Plans from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport:

1.       ground plan of turbe scale 1:50

2.       cross-section of turbe as of 1956, scale 1:50

-     Photodocumentation of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of BiH



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


1954.    Naše starine (Our Antiquities) no. II, Sarajevo, 1954.


1998.    Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, knjiga II – Istočna i centralna Bosna (Islamic Epigraphics of BiH, bk. II – Eastern and Central Bosnia), Sarajevo Publishing 1998,


(1) There is a local tradition that the founder of the mosque was Grand Vizier Semiz Ali Pasha “Pračalija,“ Grand vizier from 1561 to 1565, who is buried in Istanbul.

(2) It is said that the plaque was carved with the details of the vakufs (perpetual endowments) of the mosque and turbe, but that the mutevelijas (vakuf administrators) erased them when the vakufs were expropriated (Naše starine II p. 222).

(3) This stone is very similar to the stone used for the decorative elements and minaret of the Musa Pasha mosque in Nova Kasaba (Tafro, Naše starine II, p. 222). (Andesite tuff – op. Mirzah Fočo).

(4) Damage dating from 1943.


Northeast facadeInteriorAli Pasha's turbeEntrance to the turbe
North view at the turbe Detail in interior - windowsTufa domePendentives
Harem of the mosque, sarcophagus and fragments of the mosque Site of the mosque  

BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: