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

Church of St Mihovil (St Michael) in Ovčarevo, the historic building

gallery back

Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the Official Gazette of BiH, no. 88/07.          

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 3 to 9 July 2007 the Commission adopted a






The historic building of the church of St Mihovil (St Michael) in Ovčarevo near Travnik 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. 1272, cadastral municipality Paklarevo, Municipality Travnik, 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 shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary 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 basic details of 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 site of the National Monument:

-          research and conservation and restoration works shall be permitted, subject to 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),

-          infrastructure works shall be permitted only with the approval of the relevant ministry and subject to the conditions stipulated by the heritage protection authority.




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.




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.



4 July 2007



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 17 February 2006, representatives of the Ovčarevo parish office submitted a petition to designate the property of the Church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo near Travnik 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 as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V para. 4 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;

-          Details of legal protection of the property to date;

-          Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs;

-          Details of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc;

-          Details of the movable heritage forming part of the property;

-          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 property are as follows:


1. Details of the property


The village of Ovčarevo, previously known as Orašje, is in central Bosnia, to the north-west of Travnik and about 3 km from the town centre. It lies about 1.5 km from the main road linking Travnik with Jajce.

The church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo is on the northern slopes of Mt. Vlašić and to the south of the Vilenička forest. There are only a few residential properties in the immediate vicinity of the church.

The historic building of the church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo near Travnik is located on cadastral plot no. 1272, cadastral municipality Paklarevo, Municipality Travnik, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Historical information

In 1385 Fr. Bartholomew of Pisa refers to four Bosnian Franciscan monasteries: Kraljeva Sutjeska, Visoko, Olovo and Lašva. There is no further reference to the Lašva monastery following the establishment of Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1463 (the assumption is that it was burned down), and the Catholic population was thereafter under the care of the Franciscans in the Fojnica monastery.

The parish of Ovčarevo (previously known as Orašje) was established on 25 April 1832 by being separated from Dolac parish. It consisted of some small Catholic villages around the river Lašva up to Turbe.

Since its formation in 1832 the parish of Ovčarevo has been the scene of the life and work of three prominent priests of Bosnia Argentina: Fr. Marijan Šunjić(1), from 1836 to 1844, together with chaplains Fr. Martin Nedić and Fr. Anđelo Kraljević. Marijan Šunjić became Bishop of Bosnia, Anđelo Kraljević Bishop of Herzegovina, and Martin Nedić the Bosnian Provincial.

In 1879, part of the parish was taken to form the separate parish of Dželilovac, later known as Potkraj. This is the region above Turbe on the slopes of Mt. Vlašić. In 1977, Turbe too was instituted as a separate parish.

Baltić records that the church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo is one of the three oldest surviving original Franciscan churches in Bosnia. The others are the old church in Vareš, and the church in Dolac near Travnik. It was built in the late 19th century, but the only solid fact about its erection is a note by the parish priest of the time, Fr. Jako Baltić, that it was "furbished," i.e. furnished and decorated, in 1870 (Baltić, 2003, 371).

The parish church in Ovčarevo was built by Fr. Jako Baltić(2), who asked the Travnik kaimakam (deputy), Ahmed, to procure for him a firman (permit) to build a church. Having little confidence in obtaining one, he promptly began building a church and a parish residence, for which he did have a permit. Approval to build the church was received before the building works were completed. The parish of Ovčarevo was a large one, which explains why a church of this size was built.

A plaque over the main portal of the church of St Mihovil bears an inscription carved in stone, reading:


















The plaque is signed by the parish priest, Fr. Jako Baltić, who supervised the building of the churches in Ovčarevo and Guča Gora, which are similar in architectural features, but it is not known who designed them. The church in Imotski was designed by Fr. Francesco Maria da Vicenza alias Matteo Lorenzoni(3), indicating a designer who made his mark on Franciscan architecture in the mid 19th century, as would Vancaš and Pařik at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. 

The unusual formality of this church, in particular its trefoil frontispiece at the west end, belongs to stylistic features of the early Renaissance that can be seen in churches in both Dalmatia and Venice – from St. Saviour’s in Dubrovnik to San Zaccaria or San Michele in Isola (Ćorak, 2004, 273).

Two kilometres from Travnik, beside a spring on the right bank of the river Lašva, is a small chapel built in 1923, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known in Bosnia as Mala Gospa, which has since become a shrine known as Gospino vrilo (Our Lady's spring), visited by pilgrims on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin. In 1990, work began on the erection of a new church on this site, which has now been resumed.

Conservation and restoration works were carried out in St Michael’s church in Orašje between 1975 and 1979, led by the academic sculptor Zdenko Grgić and carried out by architect Mišo Subotić in consultation with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH.  The work on part of the choir gallery was the only major intervention to the interior of the church.  The wooden structure of the choir gallery, which was supported by two uprights, was replaced by a solid concrete structure.

At the same time, a bronze bust of Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić was erected beside the church, the work of the Sarajevo-based sculptor Zdenko Grgić. Ivo Andrić was persecuted during World War I, and lived in the parish house in Ovčarevo.

During the 1992-1995 war, the residents of Ovčarevo left their homes, but most have now returned.


2. Description of the property

The church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo near Travnik was built in the spirit of the historicist style, with neo-Renaissance features predominating. The long axis of the church lies south-east/north-west. The church is rectangular in plan, with a bell tower abutting onto the longer side, and with two polygonal niches (chapels) midway along the sides. The church is approx. 38.15 m in length overall, including the bell tower, and approx. 21.65 m in width including the niches. The bell tower is in the mid section of the south-east wall of the church, forming an extension to the nave; it measures approx. 6.26 x 4.15 m on the outside. The ground floor of the bell tower serves as the sacristy.

The church is a single-storey building measuring approx. 32.30 x 12.23 on the inside. The main entrance to the church is to the north-west. Inside the church, there is a choir gallery of recent construction above the entrance area. The gallery is approx. 6.0 m wide and 12.23 m long, the same as the width of the church. Structurally, the gallery consists of a concrete slab resting on two pillars. The double-flight staircase leading to the gallery is below the gallery on the north-east side of the church.

In the opposite corner below the gallery is the burial place of Jako Baltić, with a plaque describing his work.

The walls of the church are of roughly hewn and quarry stone, and are approx. 85 cm thick. The inner and outer faces of the walls are of sizeable blocks of stone, with an infill of rubble, reinforced here and there with timber beams. The decorative features (portal and window frames) are of hewn and cut stone. The walls were originally plastered, but the plaster was stripped off during the 1975-1979 restoration.

The roof of the church is gabled and steeply pitched, with a timber roof frame. The roof of the church and the bell tower are clad in sheet copper, while the chapels are clad in galvanized iron.

The ceiling of the church is wooden, consisting of panelling set into the roof frame. It consists of long, narrow tongue-and-grooved boards. There is a slight coving where it meets and extends down the side walls of the church for about 2.0 m, enhancing the impression of a vault.

The tall trefoil façade is "stuck on" to the north-west end of the church. It is articulated into three registers, the first of which extends to the midpoint in the overall height of the façade and is divided from the trefoil by a stone string course. The central section contains the portal and two round-arched windows set symmetrically to right and left above it. The middle register (consisting of side trefoils, again divided from the top part by a string course), contains three symmetrically arranged oculi. The topmost register, at the very top of the trefoil, has one window in the middle, the same shape and size as the previous two. This was previously a niche in which was a statue of St Michael. The trefoil is surrounded by a cornice beginning in both registers with a low pilaster with a capital. The keystone at the very top has a metal cross. Vertically, the frontispiece is articulated only in the two upper registers. Two pilasters rise from the lower string course, set symmetrically between the three oculi, cross the upper string course and terminate in the arched central panel, supporting nothing. The mouldings of all the openings are shallow and simple. The main portal has a double frame. Capitals and the keystone are indicated in the arched frame, while in the rectangular frame surrounding it the moulded lintel rests on capitals.  The plaque with the inscription is in the space between the two openings. The arched windows are framed in the same way as the arched section of the portal, and are of the same proportions, giving the frontispiece its harmonious proportions. The south-west and north-east walls each have five arched windows of the same size as those on the north-west façade. The north-east side has a portal to the north of the chapel, almost identical in size and appearance to the main portal. The polygonal chapels each have two oculi, and have polygonal roofs clad with galvanized iron.

The bell tower is at the south-east end. There is an arched window to its right and left, of the same size as the other windows, with an oculus above (walled up on the inside). The bell tower itself tapers slightly from one third its height. On the south-east side is an arched portal, narrower and more simply framed than the other two. The side walls of the bell tower have small semicircular windows 60 cm above ground level. Above the portal is a pointed Gothic-arched window. At mid-height on the bell tower is an oculus. The top of the bell tower is indicated by an upper and lower string course, and there are pilasters at the corners. On all four sides of the bell tower are four round-arched biforate windows in four panels, with lintels. Above these panels are triangular gables with blind oculi in the middle. The tower is topped by a tall spire, star-shaped in section, like a closed umbrella. The topmost part of the tower differs in materials and form from the rest of the church. The bell tower probably took longer to build.

The interior of the church is a great hall with the choir gallery and altar at the ends and arched windows with stained glass, and entrances to the side chapels. The altar area is at the south-east end of the church and, including the altar steps, occupies an area 6.5 m wide. Five wide stone steps lead to the altar. To the right and left of the altar are two arched doors leading to the sacristy (the ground floor of the bell tower) and, to the right and left of these, two shallow arched niches (arched windows that have been walled up, reaching down to the floor), holding sculptures.

The church floor is paved with stone slabs.

The lighting of the church of St Mihovil is exceptional. The light source is concealed, coming from the sides and from below, giving the space an unusual atmosphere(4).

The apse area is decorated with a composition in mosaic, Glory of the World, the work of Zdenko Grgić, dating from 1978. The mosaic measures 600 x 600 cm, and is mainly in bright colours: red, white, green and blue. 

The same artist also made two copper reliefs, the Baptism in the Jordan, and a Pietà, measuring 195 x 185 cm.

The walls of the nave are decorated with scenes from the Way of the Cross, the work of Zdenko Grgić, who linked seven Stations of the Cross into a single whole (100 x 80 cm) executed in relief on wood. The stations are mounted on the north and south walls of the church. [Translator’s note: this presumably means that there are seven on the north and seven on the south wall, making the usual fourteen, though it is not clear from the original.]

The church also contains three sculptures by Marija Ujević (St Anthony), Josip Poljan (St Francis) and Josip Marinović (Madonna and child). The first two are in bronze and are approx. 200 cm in height, and the third of white stone (marble), and is approx. 75 cm in height.

In 1989 the windows of the church in Ovčarevo were fitted with stained glass, the work of the artist Slavko Šohaj. Twelve of the stained glass windows are round-arched and nine are circular. They depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. In 1992, when war broke out in Bosnia, the stained glass windows were taken to the monastery in Široki Brijeg. They were reinstalled in the church in 2000.


3. Legal status to date

The church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo has not previously been placed under state protection.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

Conservation and restoration works were carried out on the church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo between 1975 and 1979. The works were headed by academic sculptor Zdenko Grgić and the technical aspects were the responsibility of architect Mišo Subotić, in consultation with the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH. Work on part of the choir gallery was the only major structural intervention on the church. The structure of the choir was altered, but without diminishing the proportions of the premises. The wooden structure of the choir gallery, which had rested on two uprights, was replaced by a solid concrete structure. This dictated the shape of the antechamber.

At the same time, the plaster was stripped off all the walls of the church.

In addition to the works on the gallery, works were carried out on the interior of the church.

At this time, Grgić's bust of Ivo Andrić was set up by the church.


5. Current condition of the property    

            During an on-site inspection in June 2007, it was found that the church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo is in good structural condition.



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

C.vi.      value of construction

D.         Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

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

E.         Symbolic value

E.i.       ontological value

E.ii.      religious value

E.iii.      traditional value

E.iv.      relation to rituals or ceremonies

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

G.         Authenticity

G.iii.     use and function

G.vi.      spirit and feeling

G.vii.     other internal and external factors


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan;

-          Proof of title;

-          Photodocumentation;

-          Drawings;

-          Photographs taken on site by a member of the Commission's staff.



During the procedure to designate the church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo near Travnik as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted: 


1927.    Jelenić, J. "Ljetopis Franjevačkoga samostana u Kraljevoj Sutjesci" (Chronicle of the Franciscan Monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska), Jnl. of the National Museum 39/1927. Sarajevo: 1927.


1984.    Basler, Đuro, Karamatić, Marko, Nikić, Andrija, Oršolić, Marko. “Osvrt na prošlost triju samostana – sticanje i čuvanje kulturnoga blaga u njima,” Stari franjevački samostani BiH, Kr. Sutjeska, Kreševo, Fojnica (Overview of the Past of Three Monasteries – Acquisition and Preservation of their Cultural Treasures, Old Franciscan Monasteries of BiH, Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kreševo, Fojnica), Vol. 1. Sarajevo: Association of Catholic Religious Officials in SR BiH in association with the monastery authorities, 1984.


2002.    Vrilo, no. 2 year I, June 2002.


2003.    Baltić, Jako. Godišnjak dogadjaja i promine vrimena u Bosni 1754–1882 (Annals of Events and Changing Times in Bosnia 1754-1882). Sarajevo, Zagreb: Synopsis, 2003.


2004.    Ćorak, Željka. Sv. Mihovil u Ovčarevu između historije i historicizma (St Mihovil in Ovčarevo Between History and Historicism), academic paper. Zagreb: Institute for the History of Art, 2004.


(1) Marijan Šunjić (1797-1860) was one of the most highly regarded members of the Franciscan community in Bosnia on account of his erudition and intellectual powers.

(2) Born in 1813 in the village of Bukovica, on the slopes of Mt. Vlašić. He received his primary education in the monastery in Guča Gora and his secondary education in the monastery in Fojnica. He graduated in philosophy and theology in Hungary. He worked in the monasteries in Fojnica, Guča Gora, Istanbul, Orašje and Dolac, returning to Orašje where he remained until his death in 1887. He is buried in the church, and his work is described on his tombstone. He built and opened schools. He left behind a great many written works, the best known of which is his Annals in which he describes the period 1754 -1882.

(3) Fr. Francesco Maria da Vicenza was involved in architecture, sculpture and painting (in particular, miniatures). In 1863 he went to Herzegovina as a designer. Fr. Francesco’s historicist style clearly relies on Palladio (whom he specifically describes as "my immortal teacher Palladio"). Despite his Venetian origins, it is hard to imagine him as the designer of the church in Ovčarevo.

(4) Ž. Ćorak says of this church: "The church of St Mihovil in Ovčarevo stands out among late 19th century religious buildings in Bosnia on account of its unusual strength and simplicity. This simplicity is deliberate, indicating the mindset, intentions and style of its unknown architect. As plasticity in space and space in volume, the church is extremely well proportioned, surpassing in its harmony many more complex, multi-aisled, vaulted churches known for their decorations. The system of proportions and the harmony of the size of its doors and windows are the result of talent and knowledge, of a spontaneous historical gift. Regardless of the fact that St Mihovil in Ovčarevo is neo-Renaissance, the Renaissance is where the church is. Dramatic church interiors such as this one are a rarity. The three friars who restored the church first experienced and acknowledged the message of its builder, and continued in the same spirit. By stripping the plaster off the walls, Fr. Stjepan Pavić, Fr. Nikola Bošnjak and Fr. Augustin Tomas embarked on a new venture that reinforced its old identity. They linked the church with the mountains, with remote regions and with history. They added a note of tenderness to the play of light and dark in the interior, using modern works of art in minimalist fashion, forming a firm bond between them and the architecture. The lagoon overflowed to the slopes of Mt. Vlašić in the trefoil frontispiece and Gothic windows. This renders the church in Ovčarevo unique not only in Bosnia. It marks Bosnia, where every memory has been under threat, as a land of long memory." (Ćorak, 2004, pp. 276, 277)

St. Mihovil church in OvčarevoSt. Mihovil church Entrance fasadeNortheastern façade
Southwestern façade Auxiliary entrance Bell towerInterior of the church

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