Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Bridge in Stari Majdan (known as the Roman Bridge), the historic monument

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH” no. 43/08.

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 28 March to 1 April 2008 the Commission adopted a







The historic monument of the Bridge in Stari Majdan (known as the Roman Bridge), Municipality Sanski Most, 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. 1631 (new survey), holding no. 99, cadastral municipality Sanski Most, Municipality Sanski Most, 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 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 erecting signboards with basic details of the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




The following protection measures shall apply to the site defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision:        

-          all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for ensuring that a project for the repair, restoration and conservation of the National Monument is drawn up.

The said project shall cover:

-          an archaeological examination of the bridge,

-          a statical analysis of the site and the structure of the bridge and abutment walls with measures for their repair,

-          repairing the damage to the arch of the bridge including cleaning the joints and repointing with lime mortar,

-          repairs to the upstream and downstream wing walls,

-          the removal of all structures not executed in conformity with the principles of reconstruction and a repetition of conservation and restoration works,

-          cleaning the bridge and removing self-sown vegetation on the bridge structure,

-          making good the surroundings of the bridge and removing self-sown vegetation,

-          drawing up and implementing a programme for the presentation of the National Monument,

-          designing an alternative traffic solution – the construction of a new bridge.




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 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.


No: 07.2-2-159/07-2       

29 March 2008



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


E l u c i d a t i o n



Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

Pursuant to a petition submitted by the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Una-Sana Canton, Bihać, and 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, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property,

-          Copy of land register entry and details of ownership,

-          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 historic monument is in the centre of Stari Majdan, Municipality Sanski Most, very close to a demolished Orthodox church and the local school. 

The bridge spans the Gračanica brook which emerges to the west of the village, a the foot of Gračani hill.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1631 (new survey), cadastral municipality Sanski Most, title deed no. 99, Municipality Sanski Most, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            Its favourable geographical and climatic position means that the area that now constitutes Sanski Most Municipality has been inhabited since prehistoric times. A study of the area has revealed 18 prehistoric sites, 19 sites dating from the Roman period, and 20 dating from mediaeval times.

The number of sites indicates that the area has been inhabited without a break for almost 4,000 years. The most important prehistoric sites are the Hrustovača and Dabarska caves.

There is considerable material evidence from the Roman period, attesting to much activity at that time. In addition to the rich, fertile land and wealth of natural resources, this is primarily due to the iron ore in which this area abounds.

An important discovery dating from the Roman period has been made at Crkvina in the village of Šehovci, where a Roman settlement and metallurgy works were found.

Stari Majdan is one of the oldest settlements in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As the name indicates (majdan = mine or quarry), it is known especially for its wealth of iron ore and its iron works. In 1963, altars dating from the 3rd century CE were found at Troska during the exploitation of iron slag.

The mining and processing of iron ore continued in later times too. According to Hamdija Kreševljaković, by mediaeval times arms and ammunition were being made in Stari Majdan, which means that iron ore was being mined and processed.

The Ottoman period saw the start of mining and processing iron ore into semi-manufactured bar-iron, which was transported along the Sana, Una and Sava rivers, via the wharfs at Gradiška, as far as Istanbul.(1)  

The village was known in the past as Madeni Ahen, meaning Iron Mine, and also as Madeni Atik (Old Mine), Stari Unidan, Stari Maudan, Mejdan, Majdan and, finally, Stari Majdan, the name it acquired, according to Hamdija Kreševljaković, in the 18th century.

Nothing is known about when the old bridge was built. The local people believe it dates from the Roman period, because of certain artefacts dating from that time that have been found in the village. There are several places in Bosnia and Herzegovina with bridges traditionally known as Greek, Roman and so on. In the present state of historical studies, particularly archaeology, it is almost impossible to enter into an analysis of the extent to which these bridges may actually be Roman, built on Roman foundations, or of later date. It should be borne in mind here that a common popular name for certain necropolises with the mediaeval tombstones known as stećci is Greek burial ground (Mujezinović, Čelić, 16).

Mujezinović dates the bridge to late mediaeval times, referring to other authorities whom he does not name, based on the fact that there are a number of old mediaeval fortifications close to the village.

The earliest evidence of the bridge is in documentation from the Institute to Protect Monuments, where it is recorded that the bridge was repaired on two occasions, in the late 18th century (c. 1772) and in 1928, when certain minor repairs were carried out (Mujezinović, Čelić, 126).

Several names are still in use among the local people to denote this bridge – in addition to being called the Roman bridge, it is also known as the Gračani, ćemer and ćemerlija bridge (ćemer derives from the Turkish, meaning arched or vaulted) (Study by the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Una-Sana Canton).

During and after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNPROFOR, and later IFOR, drove heavy armoured vehicles over the bridge on several occasions. Following representations by the local people and the heritage protection authority, this practice was stopped and the crossing point was moved some metres upstream. This caused the banks of the brook to break down.


2. Description of the property

Bridges have been built since time immemorial on all major trade routes. As a building material, stone was tailor made in essential characteristics and formal potential for stereotomic forms. The fundamental stereotomic form common to all bridge-building world-wide is the arch – a single arch between two banks, or a number of arches linking the river-banks in a certain rhythm.(2)  

In bridge-building, the configuration of the terrain and the width of the river have a major impact on the choice of site for the bridge, and play an important part in determining its form.

The Bridge in Stari Majdan was built on level ground. Its current length is 8.40 metres, and its overall width at mid point is 4.25 m.

A feature of this bridge is that rather than being built at right angles to the brook (the shortest distance) it is at an angle of about 40 degrees, probably dictated by the then alignment of the road. All the structural elements of the bridge – the barrel, the central pier – follow the line of the brook.

The bridge was built of blocks of quarry stone and hewn stone of various sizes. It has two segmental round-arched barrels approx. 2.60 m wide. The barrels are 97 cm high to the east (downstream) and 120 cm high to the west (upstream).

The barrels are composed of roughly-finished but fairly evenly sized tufa blocks. The barrels were presumably higher formerly, since gravel deposits accumulating over a long period have raised the level of the river bed.(3)   

The arches rest on the two banks and a central pier, 4.45 m long and 1.50 m wide. The pier has a stone cutwater, 85 cm in height, on the upstream side, but none as such on the downstream side(4) – instead, there is a stone block 58 cm wide and about 10 cm high. It is impossible to tell exactly how high this is because of the build-up of gravel in the river bed.

To the north, the bridge abuts onto two stone abutment walls, upstream and downstream, made of the same building materials as the bridge itself.

The roadway of the bridge rises slightly towards the middle and makes an obtuse-angled turn towards the opposite site. The highest point of the bridge is 1.78 m above water level.

Traces of the mortar used as binder when the bridge was built can be seen in the barrel, along with an abundance of self-sown vegetation.

The wing walls of the bridge appear to have been made by laying the stone blocks dry, the result of years of lack of maintenance and exposure to adverse weather conditions.

The bridge has no decoration or inscription. All that can be seen is the secondary effect of laying a final course of stone slabs so that they project outwards from the spandrel wall by 5 cm. The stone slabs are 50 cm wide on the upstream side and 44 cm wide on the downstream side, and are 13 cm thick.

The bridge has no parapet, nor any features that might enable one to reconstruct its earlier appearance. It is possible that it never had a parapet. The bridge has been asphalted in modern times.

The bridge in Stari Majdan is very similar in structural features and types of building material to the bridges in Ocrkvalje near Miljevina (the date of which has not been established), stolne bridges in the Trebinje region, and the bridge in the village of Vranci near Kreševo.

The Kreševo area, like the environs of Stari Majdan, is noted for similar occupations – mining and iron-working. The Vranci bridge, like the one in Majdan, is of simple, rustic form, seeming to have grown organically out of its surroundings. It consists of a single round arch, and is built of hewn stone blocks of varying sizes. There is no secondary carving on the bridge, no string courses, and no parapet. The roadway rises slightly towards the middle and is almost identical to that of the Stari Majdan bridge. This bridge was the work of local builders, and dates from mediaeval times.


3.  Legal status to date

The bridge has not been subject to legal protection.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works:

There are no details of any research works or conservation and restoration works carried out on this bridge.

In their book on stone bridges, Mujezinović and Čelić refer to this bridge, but locate it in the village of Ljubija.


5. Current condition of the property

The following are the findings from an on-site inspection conducted on 4 March 2008:

-          the abutment walls are damaged. Some parts of the structure of the wall have become detached, and the binder has washed out of the joints;

-          the condition of the footings on which the bridge structure rests is not known;

-          the stone blocks on the spandrel walls of the bridge have shifted out of position in places (probably caused by heavy vehicle traffic);

-          self-sown vegetation was noted on the spandrel walls and intrados of the bridge.


6. Specific risks

-          Lack of maintenance of the bridge,

-          Self-sown vegetation.



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.vi.      value of construction

F.         Townscape/landscape value

G.         Authenticity

G. v.     location and setting


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan;

-          Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-          Photodocumentation – Cantonal Institute for the Protection of Monuments;

-          Site plan;

-          Ground plan;

-          Cross-sections;

-          Upstream elevation;

-          Downstream elevation;

-          Photodocumentation of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments – photographs taken by Mirzah Fočo on 4 March 2008 using  SONY digital camera.



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


1961.    Gojković, Milan, Katanić, Nadežda, Građa za proučavanje starih mostova i akvadukata u Srbiji, Makedoniji, Crnoj Gori (Material for the Study of Old Bridges and Aqueducts in Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro), Belgrade, 1961.


1998.    Čelić, Džemal, Mujezinović, Mehmed, Stari mostovi u BiH (Old Bridges in BiH), Sarajevo Publishing, 1998.


1989.    Gojković, Milan, Stari kameni mostovi (Old Stone Bridges), Naučna knjiga, Belgrade, 1989


1997.    Hadžialagić, Husref, Gradiška u prošlosti (Gradiška in the Past), Geotisak d.d., Rijeka-Delnice, 1997


Documentation from the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Una-Sana Canton, Bihać

(1) Husref Hadžialagić also writes about this in his book where he describes Gradiška, referring to mines and metallurgy around the river Sana, at Stari Majdan and Kamengrad, whence large quantities of iron cannon balls were transported. He also refers to the mine and works in Stari Majdan, where about 1,100 workers were engaged in the extraction and transportation of ore, charcoal burning, smelting, casting and smithy work, and in the carriage of the products to the river Sana.

(2) The basic components of stone bridges are:

-          the foundations or footings of the bridge – by which the structure is linked to the terrain.  This component is of major importance for the stability of the structure;

-          the piers of the bridge – the pier is the element via which the load of the structure is transferred to the foundations, and which is thus exposed to the constant action of the water;

-          the arches/barrels of the bridge – the most important part of the structure, function and form of the bridge;

-          the spandrel walls – elements defining the roadway of the bridge;

-          the infill –  material used to fill the cavities within the bridge;

-          relieving apertures – elements resulting from attempts to reduce the load and thus relieve the structure itself;

-          the string courses – architectural details the moulding of which accentuates the division of the bridge into the load-bearing structure, the bearing structure of the barrel and arch, and the roadway with its parapet;

-          the korkaluk or parapet – an architectural element designed essentially for safety;

-          additional structural elements – wing walls, access ramps and the like;

-          additional architectural elements – portals on the bridge, benches to rest on;

-          guard towers.

(3) There is a local legend to the effect that a horseman could ride under the bridge.

(4) Gojković says that it is the rule in bridge-building to reduce water turbulence around the pier by adding a cutwater on the upstream side. Cutwaters are not necessary on the downstream side, particularly in the case of smaller bridges (Gojković, 22)

Bridge in Stari MajdanOld photos, downstream and upstream façadeUpstream façadeBridge in Stari Majdan

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