Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Church of St Barbara with burial ground and necropolis with stećak tombstones in the village of Strujići, the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 20 to 27 November 2007 the Commission adopted a






The historic site of the church of St Barbara with burial ground and necropolis with stećak tombstones in the village of Strujići, Municipality Trebinje is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National monument consists of the church, 8 stećak tombstones and 15 stone crosses.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 2982 and 2983, cadastral municipality Kotezi, title deed no. 302, Municipality Trebinje, Republika Srpska, 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 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 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 on the site defined in Clause 1 para 3 of this Decision, the following protection measures shall apply:

-          conservation and restoration works, routine maintenance works and works design to display the monument shall be permitted subject to the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority);

-          the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for cultural and educational purposes;

-          the relocation or removal of the stećak tombstones is prohibited;

-          the dumping of waste is prohibited.




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 thereof.




The Government of Republika Srpska, the relevant ministry, the heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II – 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.kons.gov.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. 724.




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.



22 November 2007



Chair of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo


E l u c i d a t i on



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 Church of St Barbara and necropolis with stećak tombstones in the village of Strujići, Municipality Trebinje to the Provisional List of National Monuments under serial no. 724.

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 (copy of cadastral plan and 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, 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 village of Strujići is located by the Mostar-Trebinje road, about 30 km as the crow flies from Trebinje, on the eastern side of the Popovo plain, at an altitude of 295 m above sea level, on latitude 42° 53’ 56.6” and longitude 18° 01’ 00.5”. The church of St Barbara stands in a necropolis with stećak tombstones and close to a modern Orthodox cemetery.

It is located on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 2982 and 2983, cadastral municipality Kotezi, title deed no. 302, Municipality Trebinje, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            Nothing is known of the Popovo plain in prehistoric times. The earliest historical details indicate that there was an Illyrian presence here from the late 10th century BCE on. Popovo and the wider area around it remained longest within the Illyrian country of the Ardiaei. The Daorsi held the regions to the west and north-west of Popovo, but it is not impossible that they also inhabited part of Popovo. The time when these tribes were present is attested to by the numerous hill forts and tumuli in the region (Kotezi, Drijenjani, Hutovo, Poljice and so on).

The Romans conquered the area in the 2nd century. Archaeological remains from the Roman period have been found at several sites (Vjetrenica, Trebimlja – the municipium of Diluntum, the remains of Roman buildings near Sedlar, Veličina and other settlements).

The earliest details of Popovo itself date from the 12th century, when it is referred to as a county in Hum land. Hum was then ruled by Prince Miroslav, brother of Stevan Nemanja, lord of the county of Rascia. For a short time herceg (duke) Andrija of Croatia and Dalmatia wrested power from him, and after Andrija's death Prince Petar seized power. He in turn was forcibly toppled from power by Nemanja's son Stevan the First-Crowned, who divided up the rule of the land between his son Radoslav and the former Prince Petar, granting the Ston coastal region and Popovo to Petar's brother Andrija. In or about 1219 Andrija is referred to as "Gran conte di Clitovo,“ since his main holding was Hutovo, but it seems that his capital was in Ston, where he was buried.

Popovo is referred to on several occasions as a župa (county): in a charter of King Uroš I (1254-1264); in 1284 there is a reference to the standard-bearer of lord of the county Tvrtko in Popovo; in 1312 there is a reference to lord of the county Bogdan and, somewhat later, to lord of the county Nikola, his descendant. The Nikolići, who ruled this county for a long period, are descended from the latter.

In 1318 Mladen Šubić was calling himself "lord of Hum land.“

During the struggle for the throne of Rascia, Hum found itself without an overlord. Bosnia was then ruled by Stjepan II Kotromanić, whose extended his rule to Rascia and Hum, relying on his Nikolić cousins, who were still the immediate overlords of Popovo (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 10).

We have no full or accurate information on the extent of the area known as Popovo in mediaeval times. A charter of Hungary's King Matthias Corvinus of 1465 under the terms of which he bestowed some lands and villages in Herzegovina to Abbot Alexandar the diplomat, who was from Dubrovnik, there is also reference to villages in the county of Popovo – Galčići, Dubljani and Grmljani, which exist to this day (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 14).

After Jajce and other towns in Bosnia fell to the Ottomans in 1463, Herzegovina too was under threat from them. The first Turkish population census in this region, in 1469, lists Popovo as Popovska. Popovo, Lug, Šuma and the area to the south of Trebinje were the border region of the Herzegovina sandžak and Herzegovina under the rule of Vlatko (son of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača), making this a narrow frontier region between Dubrovnik and Turkey until 1482 (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 14).

Along with representatives of the Ottoman authorities, there remained local leaders or princes (knez) and even dukes (vojvoda); there were also Christian spahis. In the 17th century there is reference at the same time to spahi Ivoje and vojvodas Jovo Tadić, Aleksa Kadijević and Mihajlo Mihojević.

Popovo has been inhabited without a break, both on the uplands and in the plains areas, since the Illyrians and Romans, followed by the early and late mediaeval period and the Ottoman period. The most extensive information concerns the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, when this region was ruled by the aristocratic Sanković, Čihorić and Nikolić families, and in particular during the time of the Kosača family – Sandalj, herceg Stjepan and his sons.

This is the period with which the necropolis with stećak tombstones – called Greek tombs by the inhabitants of Popovo – is associated. Since the distribution of stećak tombstones covers 47 settlements in 88 locations, with a total of 1,559 examples that have been preserved to a greater or lesser extent, it is fair to say that Popovo was relatively densely inhabited at that time.

The church of St Barbara was rebuilt in 1883 on the site of an older church, referred to in documents dating from 1664(1). Describing the necropolis with stećak tombstones where the church stands, Bešlagić notes that "the church was built 150 years ago on the foundations of an older church.“ (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 22).

The position of the church, and the fact that it was built in the middle of a mediaeval burial ground, plus the type of church and above all its rectangular apse, suggest that the building could be older even than the 17th century. Rectangular apses, particularly this deep, are extremely rare among Orthodox churches in the Balkans. They were inspired by small Dalmatian churches, making it likely that this and certain other churches in Popovo were built by Dubrovnik masons(2).

One piece of evidence for the claim that the church of St Barbara was built on the foundations of an older church is the remains of walls visible on the east and west ends of the building, where blocks of stone of different workmanship can be seen in the lower reaches of the walls.

The bell tower was added to the church in the 19th century.


2. Description of the property

The church of St Barbara(3) belongs to the type of single-aisled church with a rectangular apse and bellcote.

The church is rectangular in plan, oriented east-west, on a gently sloping site. It measures 8.82 m in length on the outside, including on the apse, and 5.70 m in width (measured at the west end). The apse is rectangular, and is 2.44 m long and about 4.00 metres wide on the outside.

The entrance to the church is at the west end, accentuated by a stone portal, bell cote and two distinctive projecting stone blocks to the left and right of the entrance. These blocks are 60 cm wide and 65 cm high. The left-hand block (seen from the west) is 1.10 m from the north-west corner of the building, and the right-hand block is 1.00 m from the south-west corner. They project outwards from the wall face by about 30 cm.

The stone entrance portal is in the central axis of the church and consists of two massive door jambs 1.85 m in height and a rectangular architrave-style lintel with a height of about 60 cm. The stone blocks of the portal are about 35 cm thick. An iron door leads into the church.

Above the stone portal is a shallow relieving arched niche, which is framed by two large stone blocks supporting the arch. The straight-sided part of the niche is 45 cm in height and 50 cm wide. Within the niche is a white marble plaque on which is incised an inscription on the rebuilding of the church. Directly above the niche, at a height of 3.60 m, is a rectangular opening measuring 19 x 33 cm.

The bell cote was built on centrally over the frontispiece. It has one opening where the bell is hung. Bell cotes of this form are one of the main characteristics of churches of this type in Dalmatia and Herzegovina. This bell cote is about 1 m wide and consists of two stone pillars with a pronounced transition to the arch. The arched section of the bell cote is moulded in shallow relief with five circular medallions, and is topped with a cross. The motifs in the medallions are mainly flora. The arch of the bell cote is semicircular. The bell cote is made of dressed stone. The height of the church including the bell cote at the west end is 6.10 metres.

The church consists of a nave and an altar space. The nave measures 4.50 x 5.40 m on the inside. The north wall contains a five-sided niche about 70 cm wide and 30 cm deep.

            The altar space consists of the rectangular apse, two niches – the proscomidion and diaconicon – and an old stone altar. This area is divided from the nave by a built-in iconostasis reaching in height to the vault of the church. The apse is 2.20 m deep and about 2.80 m wide.

The whole of the interior of the church is covered by a barrel vault with no pilasters or other buttressing. Structurally, the thrust of the vault is transferred direct to the massive side walls. No additional reinforcements can be seen on the side walls. The apse also has a barrel vault, at a lower level than that of the nave. The transition from the higher to the lower structure is concealed by the iconostasis.

Light enters the church through three arched windows, one in the north wall, one in the south and one in the east. The daylight measurements of these windows are 0.38 m in width and 0.72 m in height. The windows are round-arched and composed of four blocks each of cut limestone with somewhat dressed sides. The overall size of the stone elements of the windows is 0.77 x 1.10 m. The windows are splayed towards the interior and narrower on the outside.

As with other buildings of this type in Herzegovina, limestone was used for the masonry work of the church. The blocks were cut into evenly-shaped rectangles measuring from 25 to 30 cm. The blocks were dressed on the outside and laid in roughly even courses. The horizontal and vertical joints between the blocks are not as accurate as in other churches in the Popovo plain (the churches in Veličani and Taleža). The stone blocks are laid in lime mortar. The walls are about 60 cm thick.

The flooring of the church is of recent date and consists of square concrete slabs.

The whole of the church is clad with stone slabs, overlapping at the ridge. The slabs are about 80 x 80 cm in size and about 12 cm thick.

Burial ground

Outside the church to the west, above the Orthodox cemetery, are 15 crosses in a row, one of which has fallen over, set in groups of two or three. These crosses date from the late 19th century. They were erected over the head of the deceased, facing east. All are of modest size, none taller than 1.20 m. Most of them are between 70 and 80 cm high, 30 to 50 cm wide and 25 to 35 cm thick.

The tombstones are carefully worked stone, particularly in the case of the crosses where the arms end in hemispherical protuberances, and the odd floral ornament such as those encountered in Herzegovina wood carvings. The front often has a rope-twist running along the edge of the arms, combined with zigzag lines and astragals. The empty spaces are filled with ornaments in the form of rosettes or six-pointed stars, and finally a carefully-worked cross as a symbol. The cross is usually decorated with various ornaments, and the arms end in trefoils.

Nothing is known of the stonemasons who made these crosses. Not one of the tombstones bears any details of the mason or any signature.

The necropolis in Strujići consists of four stećak tombstones, only one of which is decorated (stećak no. 1). They lie east-west, and are made of limestone.

Stećak no. 1, measuring 185 x 80 x 25 cm, is a tilted chest, damaged on the south-east corner. The top surface has a poorly preserved "oyster shell" decoration. Š. Bešlagić notes that this is surrounded by a large carved rosette (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 21), of which only the outlines can now be made out.

Stećak no. 2 is tilted and rather sunk into the ground, so that it could not be measured. It is undecorated.

Stećak no. 3, measuring 186 x 97 cm, is also tilted and somewhat sunk into the ground.

Stećak no. 4 is almost completely sunk into the ground, and only the top surface of a damaged side can be seen.

            In shape, decoration, epitaphs and other features, the stećak tombstones of Popovo correspond in every way to the time frame of the stećaks of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The only help in dating the stećaks in Strujići could be the "oyster shell“ surrounded by a rosette (stećak no. 1), similar to one found in Ljubinje. Since the stećak tombstones in the Ljubinje area can be fairly reliably dated to the 14th and 15th century, there is no reason, by analogy, not to date those of Strujići to the same period (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 95).

            In Popovo, necropolises with stećak tombstones are usually located near roads, and most of them contain a church, as is the case with Strujići. Many of Popovo's stećaks date from the 14th century, mainly the latter half, a relatively large number belong to the 16th century, and a few are as late as the first half of the 16th century.


3. Legal status to date

A letter under ref.: 07-40-4-4291-2/07 of 25. 10. 2007 from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport confirms that the property is listed as Strujići necropolis of stećak tombstones by the Orthodox church of St Barbara, village of Strujići, Municipality Trebinje.

The church of St Barbara in Strujići is on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, numbered as 724.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

Repair works are known to have been carried out on the church in the late 19th century, which is probably when the bell cote was added. A concrete addition to the bell cote was observed, probably dating from the 1970s.

            All interventions to the property have been carried out without a project or the supervision of the heritage protection authority. These works have not been detrimental to the authenticity of the property. In the 1950s the board of directors of the National Museum in Sarajevo began systematic investigations of the necropolises with stećak tombstones in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the spring of 1960, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH began a systematic survey of the stećaks in the Popovo plain, with all the field work in the area completed in 1964. This was followed by collating and studying the material.

            Š. Bešlagić states (Š. Bešlagić, 1966, 21) that there is a necropolis with 8 chest-shaped (?) stećaks, all very much sunk into the ground, by the Orthodox church of St Barbara, as well as ten more built into the churchyard wall, noting that the necropolis was formerly larger. He also notes in another work that there is a necropolis with 21 chest-shaped stećaks by the church of St Barbara (Š. Bešlagić, 1971, 393).


5. Current condition of the property

During an on-site inspection on 25 October 2007 the following was ascertained:

The church is in good condition. No damage to the structural system was observed. There is no structural movement, and no horizontal or vertical cracks.

There are four stećak tombstones (chest-shaped?) to the south-east of the church of St Barbara.

Stećak no. 1 is tilted and damaged on the south-east corner.

Stećak no. 2 is sunken and tilted.

Stećak no. 3 is sunken and tilted.

Stećak no. 4 has sunk almost completely into the ground.

In front of, behind and to the north of the church, on ground overgrown with grass, another four amorphous completely sunken stećaks were observed.

There is a modern Orthodox cemetery to the west of the church.

The site is overgrown with grass, which has grown tall in places.



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

F.         Townscape/ Landscape value

G.         Authenticity

G.i.       form and design

G.iii.     use and function

G.iv.      traditions and techniques

G.v.      location and setting

H.         Rarity and representativity

H.i.       unique or rare example of a certain type or style

I.          Completeness

I.iv.       undamaged condition


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 church of St Barbara in Strujići as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


1959.    Filipović, Milenko, i Mičević, Ljubo. Popovo u Hercegovini (Popovo in Herzegovina). Sarajevo:  Scientific Society, 1959.


1962.    Vego, Marko. “Novi i revidirani natpisi iz Hercegovine” (nastavak) (New and revised epitaphs from Herzegovina [cont.]). Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, archaeology, no. VII. Sarajevo, 1964, 191-243.


1964.    Vego, Marko. Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine II (Collected Mediaeval Epitaphs of BiH). Sarajevo: National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1964.


1966.    Bešlagić, Šefik. Popovo-srednjovjekovni nadgrobni spomenici (Popovo – mediaeval tombstones). Sarajevo: Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1966.


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


1983.    Anđelić, Pavo. “Srednjovjekovna župa Popovo” (Mediaeval County of Popovo). Tribunija 7. Trebinje: Regional Museum of Trebinje, 1983, 61-79.


2002.    Ševo, Ljiljana. Pravoslavne crkve i manastiri u Bosni i Hercegovini do 1878. godine (Orthodox churches and monasteries in BiH to 1878). Banja Luka: Glas srpski, 2002, 217/218. 




http://www.casopis-gradjevinar.hr/dokumenti/200704/6.pdf - church architecture - pre-Romanesque and Romanesque churches on the island of Brač

(1) Ševo, Ljiljana, 209.

(2) There are examples of similar churches in the village of Lug, of which the Dubrovnik builder is known by name. As well as this church, there are a few others (or remains of churches) in the Popovo plain where the altar area is rectangular in plan (the churches in Dubljani and Orah). The older Dalmatian churches (such as the churches on the island of Brač and in the environs of Dubrovnik) that served as a model for the church in Strujići are simple in plan, with a semicircular or rectangular apse, the latter being the rarer and perhaps indicating an older church (such as the church in Lug, completed in 1503). The interiors are barrel-vaulted. This basic type of church evolved into a number of different versions. The interior of these churches is lit by narrow doors, sometimes with a lunette over, and a small apse window. A particular feature of these churches is that no traces of an altar partition have been found anywhere, which probably means there was none. It is also worth noting that almost all are surrounded by relatively high walls, but this was probably to protect them from the flocks of sheep grazing in the surrounding pastures.

(3) St Barbara the Great Martyr was born in the town of Heliopolis in Egypt to a pagan family. Barbara was an unusually beautiful and intelligent girl, and wishing to protect her, her father locked her up in the tower of his castle, surrounded by wealth, every comfort, and maidservants. In her isolation, Barbara's brilliant mind came to know the Lord and Creator, though no one taught her. Once when she managed to escape from the tower, as God would have it she met some Christians and learned from them what she had sensed for herself. She returned to the tower and made a third window in her bath-house as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. She also made a cross in the stone wall with her finger, as though it had been iron. A spring of fresh water bubbled up from her footsteps on the floor of the bath-house, with which she healed many sicknesses. When her cruel father found out about this, he reported his daughter to the magistrate, Martian.  She was cast into a dungeon and tortured, along with another Christian, Julian. Finally, Barbara was beheaded by her own father, and Julian was executed by soldiers. No sooner was this done than a bolt of lightning struck Dioscurus' house, killing both him and Martian. St Barbara died in 306.

 ( http://veronauka.tripod.com/tekstovi/zitije_svetih/decembar/sveta_Varvara.html)

Judging from the number of churches dedicated to her, St Barbara was a highly revered saininthispart of Herzegovina. There is reference to the remains of a church dedicated to her close to the village of Grnčarevo near Trebinja (Ševo, 211)

Church of St. Barbara Entrance facadeNorthern façade Southern façade
View at the apseInteriorIconostasisGroup of stecak tombstones
Tombstones, 19 century   

BiH jezici 
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