Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Turbe – Mausoleum, the historic building


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 7 to 10 November 2006 the Commission adopted a






The historic building of the Turbe - Mausoleum in Bihać is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 1/100 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 488, cadastral municipality Bihać, Municipality Bihać, 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 Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the technical documentation required for the protection and presentation 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.




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. 2 of this Decision:

  • all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works, routine maintenance and works designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of BiH.



            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 I 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: 07.2-2-923/03-15

10 November 2006


                                                                                                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 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 (transcript of title deed, Bihać Municipality, with copy of cadastral plan),
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, details of war damage, details of 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 site


The turbe is in the centre of Bihać, within the former town walls, beside the Kapetan's tower, c.p. no. 1/100 (old survey), Land Register entry no. 488, cadastral municipality Bihać, Municipality Bihać, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

Most historians are of the view that the earliest reference to the toponym Bihać dates from 1260, in a charter of Hungary's King Bela IV, which notes that the town was on the island of St. Ladislaw, and that the King bestowed his holding of Krala (Kralje settlement) on the Prior of the Cisterian monastery in perpetuity. In mediaeval times the town developed as a free royal borough with a fortress and two monasteries, one Dominican and one Franciscan, several churches, a large number of commercial and residential buildings, and several defence towers.  With its nine bastions, six towers, four city gates and double surrounding ramparts, fosses and branches of the river Una, Bihać was extremely well fortified at that time. A Glagolitic muniment (a document with the text written in the Glagolitic script) dating from the late fourteenth century has a surviving seal showing three of Bihać's towers, the central one with a flag with the inscription S. CIVITATIS. IHIGIENSIS.

In the sixteenth century Bihać and its surrounding fortresses became part of the so-called Military Frontier consisting of a defensive zone fortified against the increasingly frequent incursions by Ottoman troops. The Ottoman Army, led by the Bey of the Segedin Sanjak, Hasan Pasha Predojević, occupied the town in June 1592. Over the next three centuries Bihać was to be an important fortress in the extreme west for the Ottoman Empire and the point of departure for Ottoman incursions and steady pressure on the borders of Croatia. The specific feature of this fortified town that distinguishes it from others in Bosnia and Herzegovina dating from the Ottoman period is that it preserved its previous urban structure within the city ramparts. New building did not disrupt the existing outer limits of the fortress, even though the ramparts were reinforced by new bastions and towers. Within the ramparts, despite the erection of new buildings, the urban structure remained essentially unaltered. The Gothic church of St Anthony has survived to this day. After the conquest of Bihać, it was turned into a mosque and given the name Fethija (from Ar. fath, victory).

It was agreed at the Berlin Congress in June 1878 that Austria-Hungary should have the right to administer Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The Dual Monarchy expected to occupy this former province of the Ottoman Empire with ease and to be welcomed by the majority of the population. However, it took several months for the Austro-Hungarian army to quell the resistance put up by the Muslim population in particular. Austro-Hungarian troops had to wage battle outside the ramparts of Bihać from 7 to 19 September 1878; only in the afternoon of 19 September did the defenders of Bihać surrender. Combatants under the command of Hajji Hasan Salkić and Hajji Ibrahim Medineli came from all over the Bosnian Krajina (frontier) region to help the defenders.

After the surrender of Bihać, the defenders of the town retreated towards Bosanski Petrovac, leaving behind arms and ammunition, while the regular Turkish garrison of the fort handed it over to the brigades of Generals Zach and  Rheinlander. The fall of Bihać had a demoralizing effect on the defenders of the other towns in the Bosnian Krajina, which were taken without much resistance, apart from Velika Kladuša and Pećigrad, which continued to hold out until October 1878.

The turbe or mausoleum in Bihać dates from the time of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was erected in pious memory of the courageous defenders of the town who lost their lives fighting the Austro-Hungarian troops.

The exact date when it was built is not known, but it is known to have been erected almost immediately following the installation of the new Austro-Hungarian authorities (Radić, p. 11). According to information provided by M. Mujezinović, it dates from 1890 and was originally built of timber on the site of the Catholic church. When the Catholic church was built, a new turbe was erected by the Austro-Hungarian authorities at their own expense, to gain the good will of the Muslim inhabitants of Bihać.

There are several surviving legends concerning its origins and who is buried in it. (1)    


2. Description of the property

The turbe or mausoleum in Bihać is of the type of turbe with an octagonal ground plan and domed roof. The sides are equal in length at 2.60 metres. The walls of the building are a mixture of stone and brick, with the entire exterior facade of bihacite stone. The turbe is articulated by a horizontal moulded stone string course on which the lower sills of the windows rest. The zone above the string course is taller, constituting 2/3 of the overall height of the building excluding the dome.

The building is largely built of accurately cut ashlar square blocks of bihacite stone laid in even courses. The lower zone is of roughly finished square stone blocks laid in four horizontal courses with very pronounced joints.

Bihacite is a very soft, light limestone, which has counterparts in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the stones known as Bosnian moščanica and Mostar tenelija. A whole range of structures were built of bihacite not only in Bihać itself but throughout the Bosnian Krajina – churches, mosques, minarets, the typical Krajina nišan tombstones with epigraphics, crosses, tombs, inscriptions on mosques, a large number of different shapes of stone decorative features, frames and arches, the basal slabs of tombs, steps and other decorative features. The characteristics of bihacite is that it is easily cut and worked, rapidly absorbs moisture, and is sensitive to high temperatures.  The colour of bihacite varies, but is usually greyish.

The outer faces of the stone in the upper zone are almost smooth and were probably sawn and ground, using the tools still used today to cut and finish stone in this part of the world.  The joints between the stone blocks are very accurately worked, so much so that they are barely visible in some places. The upper zone consists of a total of fifteen courses of stone.

The walls of the turbe terminate in a pronounced stone cornice projecting out from the wall by 35 cm. The binder used on the turbe was lime mortar.  The turbe has a domed roof clad with galvanized iron.

The turbe has a total of seven tall windows, with the entrance door on the eighth side.  The windows consist of a pair of pilasters on each side resting on simple stone bases and terminating in capitals with stylized stalactite decoration.

The windows terminate in horseshoe arches. This composition is treated with such precision that one has the impression the window arches are free-floating. This impression is heightened by the zone decorated with a continuous geometric and floral design that separates the composition of the window apertures from the rest of the wall mass. This design consists of purely linear motifs intertwining to create the impression of various geometric figures and heavenly bodies (stars).  In the areas around the window jambs are stylized floral motifs, mainly incised flowers. The decorated zone terminates in a pointed arch. All these decorative features are recognizable features of the entirety of expression of buildings dating from the historicist period in BiH, which were adopted from various stages of evolution of Islamic art and its regional centres, mainly from North African and Spanish Moorish architecture.

            The turbe contains two wooden sarcophagi with nišan tombstones bearing the turbans(2). There are no inscriptions or epitaphs on either the turbe itself or the tombstones (Mujezinović, p. 66).


3. Legal status to date

            By ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no. 1523/50 dated 7 November 1950, the building was placed under state protection.

            The building was on the Register of Monuments of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of BiH under no. 129 and as such was protected and registered as a cultural monument.     


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

There have been various works conducted on the building on several occasions, carried out without a design project or the supervision of the protection authority. These works have had no major adverse impact on the authentic appearance of the building. They consisted in the main of replacing the roof cladding when it had deteriorated too badly to be functional.  When electricity came to Bihać, steel cable clips were fixed to the building.

During the 1992-1995 war the building was damaged, but all the damage, mainly to the roof structure, has been made good.


5. Current condition of the property

The traffic is so dense as to increase the possibility of damage to the stone structure of the walls as a result of high concentrations of smoke and soot. Poor drainage from the plateau of St Anthony's church, to the north-east of the turbe by the stone steps, has resulted in displacement of part of the wall.


6. Specific risks

  • air pollution
  • underground water



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. i. quality of workmanship

C.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C.v. value of details

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious 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


            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 historic monument of the Turbe/Mausoleum in Bihać as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1890.   Lopašić, Radoslav, Bihać i Bihaćka krajina (Bihać and the Bihać frontier region), Zagreb 1890.


1942.   Truhelka, Ćiro, Sredovječni spomenici Bosanske Hrvatske (Mediaeval monuments of Bosnian Croatia), Hrvatsko kolo XXIII, Zagreb, 1942.


1963.   Raunig, Branka, Butić, Fikreta, Bokan, Branko, Bihać i okolina (Bihać and its environs), Una Bihać Tourist Association, 1963.


1981.   Dr Ekrem Hakki Ayverdi, AVRUPA 'DA OSMANLY MIMARI ESERLERI, II f.3 kitab, Baha Matabaasi Istambul, 1981.


1998.  Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine, (Islamic epigraphs of BiH) bk. III, 3rd ed., Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo Publishing, 1998, pp. 61-65.


2000.  Radić, Nikola, Bihać sa starih razglednica (Bihać on old postcards), Bihać, 2000.


(1) One legend recounts that two nameless pashas who were killed in battle with the Austrians are buried in the turbe. The wife of one saw a green light (nur) through the windows of the tower where she was living, which is believed to mean that the fallen pashas had been sanctified (Radić, p. 11, Lopašić, p. 38.).

(2) Nišan tombstones in the Bosnian Krajina (frontier region) are usually made of bihacite stone and are the work of local craftsmen. This type of stone, which is very easily worked, made it possible for the outer surfaces to be highly polished and for the tombstones themselves to be elaborately decorated with rope-twist and floral designs.

There is no picture for this monument.

BiH jezici 
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