Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Kupaje - public open-air swimming pool, the architectural ensemble

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the Official Gazette of BiH, no. 36/09.

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 architectural ensemble of the Kupaje public open-air swimming pool in Stolac 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. 1/410, Land Register entry no. 423, cadastral municipality Stolac, Stolac Municipality, 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, 6/04 and 51/07) 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 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. 2 of this Decision.

-          conservation and restoration works, including works designed to display the monument shall be permitted, 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 (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority);

-          before the start of conservation and restoration works on the property, a detailed survey of its current condition shall be conducted;

-          the conservation and restoration project should include a methodological approach designed to preserve the historic values of the property;

-          the original appearance of the property shall be preserved as regards the treatment of its architectural details, the colour of the walls, the treatment of the façades and the structure of the property. No changes may be made to its stylistic features by the removal or addition of any decorative elements or architectural details;

-          during the conservation and restoration works, materials identical to the original shall be used, as shall original building methods and treatment of the materials;

-          structural repairs shall be carried out on the pool and its ancillary facilities.




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 day following its publication 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. 02-2-12/04-12

21 November 2007



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.

On 15 January 2004 the Society for the Restoration of Civic Trust in Stolac Municipality submitted a proposal to the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to designate the Public Open-air swimming pool in Stolac as a national monument of BiH.

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:

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

-          Documentation on the location of the property;

-          Documentation on the current owner and user 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 architectural ensemble of the Kupaje public open-air swimming pool is in the Stolac Čaršija, on the banks of the river Bregava. The ensemble is separated from the Bregava Hotel by a neglected cul-de-sac approx. 6.00 m wide. 

To the north, the area extends to the local road between Mostar and Bileća. 

The site of Kupaje is approx. 3.00 below road level, and is thus both spatially and visually detached. 

The south access road is linked to the heart of the Stolac Čaršija by a stone bridge to the south-east of Kupaje.

To the west, the Kupaje public open-air swimming pool is bounded by the tobacco factory complex.

The architectural ensemble of the Kupaje Public Open-air swimming pool is on a site designated as c.p. no.1/410, Land Register entry no. 423, cadastral municipality Stolac, Stolac Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.    

Historical information(1)  

            Traces of human life in Stolac go back to the Palaeolithic. Sites dating from the Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic periods are comparable with the better-known sites in southern Italy and France.

The Neolithic sites in the area reveal the continuity of habitation and the development of the area. There is evidence of a Neolithic site in a field by the Bregava, which has yet to be properly investigated.

The Illyrian city of Daorson, dating from the 5th century BCE to the 1st century CE, occupies the summit of Ošanići.

There is also solid evidence of the continuity of habitation in the Roman period, with the surviving remains of Roman baths, Roman houses and a small temple near the Vidoštak fort.

The mediaeval period is of particularly significance in that the most important material evidence of the presence of members of the Bosnian Church is to be found in and around Stolac. A particularly fine necropolis from that period survives at Radimlja, near Stolac, with others in Boljuni, Nekuk and Bitunja. 

In 1469, at the very beginning of the Ottoman period, Stolac was described as a walled town with three vineyards, eleven households and six bachelor households(2). The period began with the transformation of the settlement and the formation of new urban structures: the mosque, hammam, medresa, čaršija, mahala and fort in the valley and at the foot of the surrounding hills.

During the Austro-Hungarian period (1878-1918), many individual buildings and urban complexes were erected in Stolac, which became a permanent part of the urban fabric of the town. This burst of building activity in Stolac included the construction of a mains water supply, the history of which is closely linked with the construction of the Kupaje open-air swimming pool(3).

This public open-air swimming pool in Stolac, known locally as Kupaji or Kupaje, were originally intended for Austrian officers.

It has not been possible to ascertain exactly when the Kupaje baths were built, but only that the complex came into being in several stages during the first decade of the 20th century(4).

The cadastral office of Stolac Municipality was established in 1897. There is no evidence that the baths complex existed on the drawing for the regulation of the river Bregava, dated 27 June 1897.

A later Austro-Hungarian period map found in the Stolac cadastral office shows the Kupalj complex. Unfortunately, this map does not give the year, but it can safely be dated to the first decade of the 20th century(5). 

Judging from the stone plaque on the west side of the bridge to the south-east of Kupaje, linking it with the Stolac Čaršija, the bridge dates from 1900. The stone side channel taking the waters of the Bregava away is obviously of rather later date. Since this channel supplied Kupaje with water, it is clear that the pool was built after 1900.

A town planning drawing dating from the Austro-Hungarian period shows clearly that the existing central premises to the north of the pool were not there at that time. Instead, there were two separate rectangular wings.

It is very likely that these two rectangular wings were built prior to 1908 (but certainly after 1897), like the two interconnected pools.

It was probably in 1908 that the wings with radiating cabins and the central premises with a stone slab over it were built to replace the rectangular wings.

Between the two World Wars, almost all building activity in Stolac was focused on individual blocks of flats. In the 1950s a special channel was built to supply water to the pool, leading direct from the source of the river Bregava. The aqueducts or side channel on the bridge was decommissioned.

In the 1970s a further structure was built to the north-west of Kupaje. This was originally designed as covered public baths for use in winter. At the same time, the wooden mušebak latticework on the south railing facing the access road was replaced by metal railings.

The Bregava Hotel, designed by architect academician Zlatko Ugljen, was built over the brief period of 1973 to 1975 to the east, right beside the pool complex. During the building of the hotel, the weir on the Bregava by the stone bridge of 1900, built by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, was damaged(6). The damaged weir was removed, and the present falls before the bridge were built.

Since the town faces the hills and the river, most of its toponyms are associated with hills and water: Ćuprija [bridge], Ada [eyot], Luka [harbour], Podgrad [outskirts of the fort], Pogledje [look-out](7). It is no accident that public baths of such historical and traditional value should be associated with the identity of the natives of the town of Stolac.

There were a number of public swimming pools in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Austro-Hungarian period, of which the best known are those in Sarajevo (Bentbaša)(8), Stolac (Kupaje), Travnik(9), Trebinje, and Kasindol near Sarajevo.


2. Description of the property

The public open-air swimming pool complex in Stolac known as Kupaje is located in the very centre of the town of Stolac, consisting of the pool area and ancillary facilities.

The pool area consists of two interconnecting pools, with an overall length of 48.50 m and a width of 18.00 m. Lengthwise, they lie parallel with the river Bregava, running east-west. The pools are about 2.50 m deep.

In the middle is a raised footbridge reached via steps from the south approach road. This footbridge is about 2.00 m wide and 18.00 m long, and separates the two pools and links the south access road with the main entrance and the western terrace between the pools and ancillary facilities to the north.

Further to the north of the terrace, before another building of radial form, is a platform level with the cabins and shower and toilet blocks at the far ends, reached via the main steps to the south and side steps to the west and east.

The side entrance is to the west of the south wing, and leads to two platforms about 6.00 m wide, which in turn lead to a platform with a buffet terrace.

To the east, steps from this platform lead to a lower elongated, radial platform between the pool and the building of radial form to the north. This platform was designed for visitors to rest and sunbathe.

The outer surfaces clearly show the original Austro-Hungarian rough concrete paths and, in places, the original gravel surfacing. During the second half of the 20th century, concrete paving and thick concrete slabs were added to the original surfacing of ribbed concrete and gravel.

Access to the pools is from a platform to the north of the pools, via two flights of steps that have suffered the ravages of time. There is also access to the pools from the end of the central raised footbridge, via two flights of steps, one for each pool.

The pools are supplied with water from the channels that can be seen on the north side of the pools. The water is gravity-fed into these channels from a large pipe on the north side of the complex, coming direct from the source of the Bregava near the village of Do.

The original Austro-Hungarian water supply for the pools was via the side channel, approx. 40 cm wide, that is still located on the east side of the bridge to the south-east of Kupaje.

Until the 1950s the water was led into this channel from the now destroyed weir on the Bregava, thus supplying the pools.

The water also flows out of the pools by gravity. The original mechanism dating from the Austro-Hungarian period still survives at the bottom of the pools to the south, by the river Bregava. The level of water in the pools is regulated by opening or closing the pump.

The pools are surrounded by a stone wall to the south by the access road and to the east by the Hotel Bregava complex. The south stone wall has metal railings, erected in the second half of the 20th century, when the wooden mušebak latticework that shielded bathers from the access road was finally removed. There are the same metal railings on the interior west and north railings of the pools and on the raised central footbridge.

The ancillary facilities of the complex consist of a row of cabins arranged in two radiating wings approx. 16.00 m long, and one central section approx. 4.50 m wide. The overall width of this tripartite radiating structure is approx. 4.00 m, with the cabins slightly more than a metre deep on the inside, the remainder being taken up by the ground-floor portico to the north, facing the road. The central premises, used as a café, and the two toilet blocks at the ends extend over the full depth of almost 4.00 m.

These buildings date from the Austro-Hungarian period. There is a stone plaque at the top of the central premises, now painted blue. The year of building cannot be made out on the plaque. Each of the wings has ten changing rooms, without doors. There are the remains of lunettes above the openings. At each end is a larger room with two shower-rooms and one toilet.

In front of these, and at the same level, is a narrow radiating access platform, at a higher level than the long south platform leading to the pools. The narrow platform is linked with the other open areas by steps to the east and west.

On the opposite, north side, an L-shaped staircase on the east flank of the central premises, links the narrow north portico and the flat roof of the ancillary building of radial form. These steps lead out onto a flat terrace about 2.70 m above floor level of the changing rooms. This flat terrace is divided into three sections, each of which has a solid barrier painted white, about 70 cm in height. This flat terrace is slightly below the level of the main Bileća-Mostar road.

The north-western section has a reinforced concrete building dating from the 1970s, originally a covered pool, but now used as a small café.

On the opposite, east side, on the stone wall separating the cul-de-sac opposite the Bregava Hotel, is the place where the original basin/trough dating from the Austro-Hungarian period was located. This no longer exists.

This unique urban complex, which came into being in the historic fabric of the town of Stolac, although obviously damaged, is still in use in the early 21st century.


3. Legal status to date

The urban ensemble of the Kupaje public open-air swimming pool has not so far been under state protection at any level.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

There is no information concerning any research or conservation and restoration works carried out to date on the Kupaje site.

In the 1970s, the reinforced concrete building was erected and a pent roof installed. It was used at first as an indoor swimming pool, but was later turned into a buffet, which is not appropriate in form or fixtures to the existing historic structure of the complex.

The canopy roof that links this to the historic west wing of the radial cabins is directly detrimental in form and material to the historic ensemble.

At the same time, inappropriate interventions were carried out, when the wooden lattice-work separating the pool from the approach road was destroyed. Inappropriate horizontal metal bars were installed, which have become rusty as a result of lack of maintenance, while the surface paint has been damaged by damp.

Part of the paving of the complex was replaced. Although the original ribbed concrete was not destroyed, most of the gravel was moved and replaced by concrete paving slabs. All these works were carried out in the 1970s.


5. Current condition of the property

The urban complex of the Kupaje public open-air swimming pool is semi-derelict, but not to such an extent that it has had to suspend operations. The complex is still a place where the people of Stolac meet in summer.

The complex is currently run by a businessman, who maintains the pool complex, ancillary premises, exterior terraces and café.

The building with the cabins is in regular use.

Being without doors, the cabins in the wings are in use, but not to the full extent they should be.

The toilets and shower rooms at the ends are in very poor condition and are a potential source of infection.

The central premises, formerly a café used by the people of Stolac during the summer, are now a derelict, neglected storeroom.

The portico to the north, like the open area north of the building, which in turn is bounded by the north main road, was used in the latter half of the 20th century as an open-air buffet. It is now no longer used for this purpose, but is merely a passageway to the open-air terrace on the platform of the flat roof.

The platforms around the pools are in good structural and hygienic condition.

The original Austro-Hungarian ribbed paving on the platforms around the pool area is combined with concrete slabs and paving laid during the latter half of the 20th century.

The pools are in relatively good structural and hygienic condition.

The north-west building dating from the second half of the 20th century has been turned into a café, with an inappropriate pent roof between this structure and the radial Austro-Hungarian wing.


6. Specific risks

-          Failure to carry out regular maintenance;

-          Poor hygienic condition of ancillary premises, particularly the sanitation.



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

C.         Artistic and aesthetic value

C.vi.      value of construction

D.         Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

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

E.         Symbolic value

E.iii.      traditional value

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

F.         Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii.       meaning in the townscape

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

G.         Authenticity

G.i.       form and design

G.ii.      material and content

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.iii.       completeness

I.iv.       undamaged condition


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Photodocumentation – photographs taken on site by Commission staff in August 2007.



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


1932.    O. Kamilo Zabeo D.I.: TRAVNIČKA SPOMENICA prigodom pedeset-godišnjice nadbiskupskog sjemeništa i nadbiskupske velike gimnazije u Travniku 1882.-1932 (Travnik Commemoration on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Archbishop's seminary and great grammar school in Travnik, 1882-1992), Regina Apostolorum Academy Press, Sarajevo


1992.    Prstojević, M. Zaboravljeno Sarajevo (Forgotten Sarajevo). Sarajevo: PP Ideja, 1992, 19.


1999.    Rizvanbegović, F. Begovina Stolac. Sarajevo: Federal Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, 1999.


2002.    Bernik. S. Zlatko Ugljen – arhitekt (Zlatko Ugljen – architect). Tuzla: Tuzla International Portrait Gallery, 2002.


2005.    Hadžimuhamedović, A. Ljudska prava i razaranje kulturnog pamćenja – Slučaj Stoca (Human Rights and the Destruction of Cultural Memory – the Case of Stolac). Sarajevo: Helsinki Human Rights Committee in BiH and Norwegian Helsinki Committee, 2005, 47-52.


2005.    Jalimam, Dr. S. and Mičijević, S. Stolac od najstarijih vremena (Stolac Since Ancient Times). Mostar: "TROYA" Society Stolac, 2005, 281, 282.


(1) For more details on Stolac, see the following decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments designating properties as national monuments of BiH: Historic site of the old Stolac fort, 21 January 2003; Mekteb (Mejtef) ibtidaija in Stolac, 2 October 2003; Residential architectural ensemble of hajji Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić in Stolac, 8 November 2006.

(2) A. Hadžimuhamedović, Ljudska prava i razaranje kulturnog pamćenja – Slučaj Stoca, Sarajevo: BiH Helsinki Human Rights Committee and Norwegian Helskinki Committee, 2005, 47-52.

(3) In addition to classic building works, the Austro-Hungarian authorities sought to resolve the problem of water supplies. Herzegovina has long been short of water, particularly during the summer months. There are the remains of “kapina,” hollows in the limestone designed to catch and store rainwater, in the Stolac region. Some are natural formations, but some are probably man-made. Later, wells and cisterns were built.  The problem was less marked in the actual Čaršija, where the river Bregava flows. However, with the arrival of the Austrians, the number of townspeople grew, and troops arrived, making the question of water supplies an acute one. In 1898the mayor of Stolac received an official undertaking that mains water would be installed, but in 1905, following a series of disappointments, the Provincial Government officially notified the people of Stolac that nothing would come of it. The campaign for mains water continued, however, and the water main was installed in Stolac in 1908. At the same time, the Austro-Hungarian authorities continued their building activities and built the first public baths in Stolac alongside the Bregava (Dr. S. Jalimam, S. Mičijević, Stolac od najstarijih vremena, Mostar: "TROYA" Society Stolac, 2005, 281, 282)

(4) Cadastral office, Stolac Municipality, August 2007.

(5) Ibid

(6) Statements by Stolac natives Mr Muhamed Hajdarović and Mr Amer Medar, August 2007, Stolac.

(7) A. Hadžimuhamedović, Ljudska prava i razaranje kulturnog pamćenja – Slučaj Stoca, Sarajevo: BiH Helsinki Human Rights Committee and Norwegian Helskinki Committee, 2005, 46.

(8) There was a weir on the Miljacka at Bentbaša in Sarajevo in the Ottoman period. Isa-bey's mills remained in operation there for four centuries. Details of the weir go back to 1507, and Isa-bey's mills, later imperial mills, were working until 1868. Later, in 1902, the Austro-Hungarian authorities built the public swimming pool at Bentbaša. The information to hand refers to more than a hundred wooden cabins and electric lighting. The swimming pool was still being used by Sarajevans at the beginning of the latter half of the 20th century, fell into disuse for a time in the middle years of this period, and reopened in 1987.  After the 1992-1995 war, the Bentbaša swimming pool was renovated and reopened in the late 20th century, and is still in use in the early 21st. (Mr. Prstojević, Zaboravljeno Sarajevo, Sarajevo: PP Ideja, 1992, 19, 20)

(9) Information dating from 1931 pertaining to Travnik: “The Municipal bathing place on the Lašva has been converted into a fish pond. That same year this open-air bathing place in Travnik was replaced by a modern swimming pool. Curiously enough, this public swimming pool, like the Public Health Centre, was built with funds donated by the Rockefeller Foundation.” O. Kamilo Zabeo D.I., Travnička Spomenica – prigodom pedeset-godišnjice nadbiskupskog sjemeništa i nadbiskupske velike gimnazije u Travniku 1882-1932, Sarajevo: Regina Apostolorum Academy Press, 1932, 60.

Public summer baths in Stolac - Kupaje, situation from the Austro-Hungarian periodPublic summer baths - KupajeCentral buildingSwimming pool
Central bridgeUpper terraceView from the terraceBridge (1900) near the Public summer bath

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