Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Church of the Holy Trinity, the historic building

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH” no. 94/09.

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 12 to 18 May 2009 the Commission adopted a






The historic building of the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the church and movable property consisting of three altar paintings by Oton Iveković, stained glass, three altars, a pulpit, two confessionals, the church pews, the Way of the Cross (fourteen Stations), eleven sculptures, a votive cross (crucifix), a monstrance, a chalice and two ciboria.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 3717/1 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. no. 672 (old survey), Land Register entry no. LIII/350, cadastral municipality Novo Sarajevo I, Municipality Novo Sarajevo, 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, restoration 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 on the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated:

-          conservation and restoration works and works designed to ensure the sustainable use of the property, including those designed to display the monument, are 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);

-          interventions designed to ensure that the church remains suitable for modern use for religious purposes shall be permitted provided that they have no adverse impact on its historic nature. The approval of the relevant ministry shall be obtained for all works.


The following protection measures are hereby prescribed for the movable heritage:

-          the Government of the Federation shall provide suitable physical and technical conditions for the safe-keeping of the movable heritage;

-          the display and other forms of presentation of the movable heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be carried out on the basis of the conditions prescribed by the Federal Ministry responsible for culture;

-          supervision of the implementation of the protection measures pertaining to the movable heritage shall be carried out by the Federal Ministry responsible for culture.




The removal of the movable heritage items referred to in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable heritage for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Permission for temporary removal under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the movable heritage in any way. 

In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to the country, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the relevant security service, the customs authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




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 Federal Ministry responsible for culture, 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) 




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, Martin Cherry, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović and Ljiljana Ševo.


No: 06.2-2-40/2009-33                                                                            

13 May 2009



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.

On 12 December 2008 the parish priest of the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo, Ivan Ravlić, submitted a petition/proposal to designate the church of the Holy Trinity in Novo Sarajevo as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Pursuant to 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.


Statement of significance

            The church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo, designed by architect Josip Vancaš, was built in 1906 and constitutes the mainstay of the urban development of a new part of Sarajevo. In terms of its architectural value, the building is one of the most significant historicist creations in the religious art of Sarajevo, and indeed of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. It forms an artistic whole with neo-Romanesque features at the point of transition to the Secession. The use of Romanesque stylistic elements is to be seen in the form of the entrance doorway with the bell tower and on all the façades, with their alternating bands of ochre and yellow, in the architectural mouldings with Romano-Gothic motifs, and in the stained-glass windows.



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;

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

-          An inspection of the condition of the property;

-          A copy of the cadastral plan;

-          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 church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo is located at no. 8 Zmaja od Bosne street, in the quarter known as Dolac Malta in the Sarajevo municipality of Novo Sarajevo. The south front, which is the main entrance front of the church, faces Zmaja od Bosne street, which was previously known as Kolodvorska street and Vojvode Putnika street.

Close to the church, to its north, is the vicarage, and to the west is the Post Office business complex.        

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 3717/1 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. no. 672 (old survey), Land Register entry no. LIII/350, cadastral municipality Novo Sarajevo I, Municipality Novo Sarajevo, Canton Sarajevo, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

Between 1881 and 1918, following the introduction of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first archbishop of Vrhbosnia, Dr. Josip Stadler(1), established the first parishes and had a number of churches, monasteries, theological faculties, seminaries, training institutes and schools built, as well as the Sarajevo cathedral.

With the sharp rise in the Catholic population, the city of Sarajevo grew, spreading westwards around the railway station and the residential area of Gradski Pofalići (later Novo Sarajevo). A new industrial quarter developed, with railway workshops and wood-processing plants. Most of the newcomers were Catholics, and in 1902, with the approval of the Provincial Government, Archbishop Josip Stadler established the Catholic parish of the Holy Trinity in Novo Sarajevo. Antun Alaupović, parish priest in Goražde, was appointed to run Holy Trinity parish.

On account of the limited funds available, the original idea was to build a chapel, but in 1904 Archbishop Stadler decided to build a parish church of the Holy Trinity, commissioning architect Josip Vancaš(2) to design the church. The church is in the centre of Novo Sarajevo, for which a regulatory plan was drawn up in 1907 (Regulierings-plan von Gradski Pofalići 1907).

Vancaš produced a design for the church and its immediate surroundings, with its main frontispiece facing Kolodvorska street (now Zmaja od Bosne street), planning a spacious square in front of the church.  The two proposed side streets, with a width of 7.50 m, were at right angles to the proposed street alongside the apse (north) end of the church. This design was the standard solution for a church in a square formed by purpose-designed blocks of buildings and streets, and allowed for the building to be viewed from all sides, very much like the treatment of the site of the Cathedral in Sarajevo (Božić, 1989, 169)

Vancaš's designs for religious buildings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia are of particular note in his wide-ranging opus and in the context of European historicist architecture. From the time of his arrival in Sarajevo as official architect and adviser to the Vrhbosnia archbishopric, Vancaš designed all Sarajevo's Catholic churches. Along with the Provincial Government and the City Council, the Catholic church was the leading commissioner of architectural designs at that time, a matter not only of prestige but of the Church's genuine needs (Božić, 1989, 157).

Archbishop Josip Stadler purchased land in Kolodvorska street in Novo Sarajevo from one Malešević, along with a house that was later converted into the vicarage. Permission to build the church was received on 14 April 1904; the building works began on 14 May 1905 and were completed on 18 November 1906, when the church was formally consecrated by Archbishop Stadler. The building works were entrusted to the Horvath and Scheding construction company. The cost of the interior works on the church exceeded 50,000 gold crowns, and the total building costs were about 100,000 crowns.

In 1980 a new vicarage was built to the north of the church, on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 3715/4. This building is not subject to the protection regime.

During the 1992-1995 war, the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo was damaged by projectiles. The worst damage was to the roofs and façades. The tiles and all the flashings and guttering, and the stained glass windows, were all extensively damaged. As a result the roof began to leak, causing significant damage to the interior of the church and its fixtures and fittings.

Works were carried out in succession from 1999 to 2008 to remedy the damage to the church.


2. Description of the property

Josip Vancaš’s first design for Holy Trinity Church, in 1902, was in the Secessionist style, but the design was not accepted; instead, his 1904 design with Romano-Gothic features and some Secessionist elements was the one to be built. Vancaš produced a design for the church derived from his prototype, the 1892 design for the parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin in Stup, the distinctive appearance of which Vancaš elaborated upon in all his designs for churches throughout the Monarchy. The church that most closely resembles the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo is St Elijah's church in Bosanski Brod, built a year later, in 1907. The façades of both churches were designed to simulate alternating bands of different materials, by creating bands separated by pointing in the plaster finish and painting them in alternating light and darker shades. The stylistic models for these designs could perhaps be found in Dalmatian Italian Romanesque architecture, with its characteristic polychrome effect in stone by using two types of stone of different colours, such as the alternating bands of pink and white stone used to build the 12th century Romanesque cathedral on the island of Rab. There are no details of the original type and colour of the paint used on the façade of the church apart from Vancaš’s blueprints, in which the decorative bands are clearly indicated.(3)  

This architecture is a variant of the Mediterranean Romanesque of Dalmatia, with its distinct cubic forms and body of the church, with sharp edges, flat and rounded surfaces, strong masses and the strongly-accentuated architectonics of the frontispieces. The eclectic use of diverse stylistic forms here reflect a predominantly Romanesque model, with its simplicity and strength of architectural masses and the striking mass of the bell tower above the projection on the entrance frontispiece.(4)   

The long axis of the church lies north-south, with the main entrance at the south end and the apse, where the altar is located, at the north end.

The church of the Holy Trinity is a single-nave building of rectangular plan. Measured on the outside, the building is approx. 40.00 m long and approx. 14.9 m wide at the south end and 17.20 m wide at the north end. In layout, it consists of a narthex measuring approx. 12.50 x 5.25 m on the outside, a nave measuring approx. 25.45 x 14.00 m on the outside, and a sanctuary measuring 5.90 x 17.20 m, together with a choir gallery above the narthex, measuring approx. 12.50 x 3.60 m. The choir gallery floor is at a height of approx. 4.10 m. The gallery has a brick parapet at the front, about 1.50 m in height, and is supported by two massive piers measuring about 70 x 47.5 cm.

The main entrance to the church at the south end leads into the narthex, which is separated from the nave of the church by a double-valved door. Off the narthex to the east is the baptistery, and to the west the stairs to the choir gallery and bell tower. The church has one side entrance on the south-west side, by the stairs to the gallery, and another at the north end. The sanctuary at the north end terminates in a semicircular apse. Two stone steps lead up to the altar. The sanctuary is flanked on each side by a small rectangular room with a door opening onto the sanctuary: to the west, the sacristy, measuring approx. 4.60 x 4.00 m, and to the east the vestry (treasury), also measuring approx. 4.60 x 4.00 m.

The walls of the church, which are of brick, are approx. 45 to 70 cm thick, and are plastered and painted inside and out. The church is a single-nave building consisting inside of four bays with groin vaults, ranging from the choir gallery at the south end to the sanctuary at the north. The side walls each have three structural pilasters approx. 70 x 128 cm in section, set approx. 5.55 m apart and rising the full height of the walls.

The church is approx. 12.90 m in height from the floor to the groin vault. The antechamber is approx. 3.50 m in height to the floor of the choir gallery, while the height from the gallery floor to the vault is approx. 8.50 m.

The floors in the sanctuary and nave are of polished stone slabs of recent date, and the gallery has a wooden floor.

The roof of the church forms a complex roofscape with timber roof trusses. The nave has a gabled roof clad with tiles, with a height of approx. 12.90 m from ground level to the eaves and 20.40 m from ground level to the roof ridge. The pent roof of the narthex is rather lower, at approx. 4.85m from ground level to the eaves, and is clad with sheet copper. The pent roof of part of the sanctuary is also rather lower, at approx. 4.95 m from ground level to the eaves, and is also clad with sheet copper. The roof of the altar space is three-paned, is approx. 12.90 m in height from ground level to the eaves, and is clad with tiles. All the flashings are of galvanized iron, and the roofs are also fitted with guttering, downpipes and lightning conductors.

The use of Romanesque stylistic elements is to be seen in the treatment of the façades of the church, with their two-tone bands of alternating light and darker shades separated by pointing. The façades are articulated by decorative pilaster strips, blind arcades and a frieze of interlinked circles just below the roof panes.

The south façade, with the main entrance, is elaborately decorated with a cordon string course, round-arched windows above which is a frieze of blind arcades, and architectural mouldings with Romano-Gothic trefoil relief rosettes. The double-valved wooden entrance door measures approx. 228 x 310 cm, and is framed by three stepped stone arches intersected by the cordon string course at the height of the architrave beam, above which is a lunette with a relief of the Holy Trinity. The portal is surmounted by a triangular gable above which is a large eight-lobed rosette with stained glass. The gable over the entrance doorway contains a relief of Jesus with an open book of the Gospels.

The south entrance façade is also accentuated by the exaggeratedly tall bell tower, which is square in plan with sides of approx. 5.60 m. The tower has a pyramidal steeple clad with copper. The height of the bell tower from ground level to the base of the cross is approx. 44.00 m, while the cross itself is approx. 3.25 m in height. All the façades of the bell tower are identical, and are finished in the same way as the façades of the church. The lower part of the bell tower has just two small round-headed windows, and the top stage has triforate windows. At the base of the steeple are tympanums on all four sides in which clock faces are mounted.

Apart from the oculus and the two rectangular windows of the sacristy, all the windows are round-arched. The east and west sides of the building each have four such windows, measuring approx. 200 x 390 cm.

In 1980 a vicarage was built to the north of the church, which is not subject to the protection regime set forth in the provisions of this Decision. The building is rectangular in plan, measuring approx. 18.00 x 13.25 m on the outside, and consists of a basement, ground floor and first floor.

Description of the movable heritage

The original murals in the church of the Holy Trinity in Novo Sarajevo have not survived.  There are, however, various documents providing extremely valuable information. The first – the cost estimate – reveals that the decorative arts studio in Sarajevo was charged with painting the interior of the church, at a cost of 2,120 crowns.(5) The owner of this studio, the distinguished artist Carl Richter, also painted murals in many other buildings in Sarajevo.

The other documents are old photographs taken after the church was built. These give an impression of the nature of the murals, which accentuated the vaults of the church with alternate segments of banded geometric ornamentation, and adorned the walls with floral designs.(6)  

Over the century since the church was built the wall paintings in the sanctuary and baptistery have also undergone certain changes.  The arched sides of the sanctuary were painted in 1906 by the Czech artist Jan Karlović Janowski with two compositions of identical size (270 x 390 cm). The west wall is decorated with a scene of the Transfiguration, and the east wall with the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.(7) Parts of these compositions have survived despite later interventions in 1968, when the parish priest, Stjepan Kočiš, commissioned the Sarajevo-based artist Ante Martinović to repaint the sanctuary. It was then that the blank space of the calotte over the altar apse was painted with a scene of the Ascension. In 2000 the same artist was commissioned to redo all the paintings in oils, for greater durability. Above the stained-glass window of the baptistry, Martinović painted motifs imbued with powerful symbolism for such premises: a single line of paintings from the stained-glass window to the top of the wall, consisting of the Lamb of God, a cross, a dove as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the Eye of God, all surrounded by a frame of branchlets and lilies.

The window niches of the church of the Holy Trinity were originally fitted with stained glass from Eduard Kratzmann's prestigious workshop in Vienna, made at a cost of 3,406.20 crowns.(8) Sadly, only three of the original stained-glass windows have survived: the rosette on the frontispiece, and two small rosettes in the oculi of the sanctuary. In 1990 the renowned Stanišić stained-glass studio of Sombor repaired the stained glass that had suffered the ravages of time, and made two new stained-glass windows for the altar apse. Details from the parish archives reveal that the same firm installed ten new stained-glass windows and three smaller ones in 2005.

The altar apse contains two stained-glass windows in the arched spaces to the right and left of the high altar. With the emphasis on absolute simplicity, the stained-glass windows are free of all decorative elements, their full height occupied only by the figures of saints. To the left is St Peter, with a book under his right arm, and holding keys, and to the right St Paul, with a book and sword under his left arm, the symbol of his martyrdom.

The north and south walls contain another six stained-glass windows, made to match the stained glass windows that formerly adorned the window niches by the Stanišić studio in Sombor in 2005, which also installed them. Their frames consist of alternating acanthus leaves and small blue medallions. The monochrome expanse of stained glass, decorated with intersecting acanthus flowers, is subdivided by another two frames. The top section of each contains the figure of the saint, with his attributes below (in the case of the Evangelists) and the name of the donors:

-          St Matthew the Evangelist, occupying the full height of the area within the frame of the stained glass. The Evangelist's saintly figure is garbed in a turquoise tunic. The characterization of the figure is achieved by portraying St Matthew as an old man with long grey hair and beard, underlining his wisdom and gravity. A separate medallion below the figure contains his attribute – an angel's hands, clasped in prayer. At the very bottom is the donors' inscription: DONATED BY ANTO AND/ANA HAVEL, née VIDOVIĆ;

-          St Luke the Evangelist, in conformity with the iconography, is wearing a yellow and dark blue tunic. He is shown in profile, holding a closed book and a pen. His attribute of the winged ox is depicted in an interesting interpretation. At the very bottom is the inscription: GIFT OF THE FAMILY/OF VESNA AND FRANJO POSAVAC;

-          the youthful figure of St John the Evangelist, holding an open book in which he is writing a text from his Gospel. An attractive chromatic harmony has been achieved between the grey hair, tunic and book and the orange cloak. St John's attribute, an eagle, is depicted in the medallion below. At the very bottom is the donors' inscription: DONATED BY THE FAMILY/OF DANO ZUBAC;

-          the figure of St Mark the Evangelist, holding the Gospels in one hand and writing in the book with the other. The saint is wearing a pale yellow tunic with a purple cloak over it. At his feet is a medallion with his attribute, a lion. At the very bottom are the names of the donors: DONATED BY THE FAMILY OF ANTO AND FRANJKA SPAJIĆ AND THE FAMILY OF CVJETANA AND ŽELIMIR DUJMOVIĆ.

The remaining two stained-glass windows portray the figures of St John the Baptist and St Teresa.

-          The well-proportioned, youthful figure of St John the Baptist, wearing furs and an orange cloak, is portrayed in profile, in movement, holding a stone in his left hand and in his right a staff in the form of a Latin cross around which a scroll with the Latin inscription ECCE AGNUS DEI (this is the Lamb of God) is wound, a powerful symbol of Christ's passion that is yet to come. At the bottom of the stained-glass window, on the right, is the coat of arms of the Stanišić stained-glass studio and the year 2005, with below the names of the donors: DONATED BY FAM. TOMISLAV CVITANUŠIĆ/AND FAM. ADONIS KOZINA.

-          The figure of St Teresa is portrayed in fairly similar manner to the figures of the other saints, wearing the Carmelite habit with a brown robe and white cloak and holding a crucifix and a bouquet of red and white roses. Her halo is lit by the rays of the sun falling from the top left corner. At the bottom of the stained-glass window is the inscription: DONATED BY SNJEŽANA MUTAPČIĆ AND/DR. JOSIP-SINIŠA ŠAGI.

Among the particularly fine movable items in the church are the fourteen Stations of the Cross, which were blessed by Fr. Nikola Momčinović after obtaining the permission of the Archbishop's ordinariate on 10 October 1907. The Stations were donated by the parishioners and, according to a note in the article by Snježana Mutapčić, were purchased in Vienna for the sum of 1,675 crowns.(9) All the Stations, which are of terracotta, measure 50 x 54 cm, and all have identical frames, surmounted by a cross to the right and left of which fall five floral tendrils. To the sides, the frame is flanked by phials formed from the structure of the pillars. The modelled scene of each Station is set in a trefoil-topped panel. Midway along the lower, shorter side of the frame is the modelled head of an angel with a pair of wings. The Stations are mounted on the north and south(10) side walls:

Way of the Cross (Lat. Via Crucis), terracotta, polychrome and parcel-gilt, modelled, 50 x 54 cm. Each of the terracottas has the number of the Station in a medallion at the top and the name of the Station at the bottom:

I.          Christ condemned to death by Pilate;

II.          the cross is laid upon Christ;

III.         Christ’s first fall;

IV.        Christ meets His Blessed Mother;

V.         Simon of Cyrene helps Christ to bear the cross;

VI.        Christ's face is wiped by Veronica;

VII.       Christ’s second fall;

VIII.       Christ meets the women of Jerusalem;

IX.         Christ’s third fall;

X.         Christ is stripped of His garments;

XI.         Christ’s crucifixion;

XII.        Christ’s death on the cross;

XIII.       Christ’s body is taken down from the cross; and

XIV.      Christ is laid in the tomb.

The archives of the parish of the Holy Trinity contain an invoice from the Croatia insurance company of Zagreb dated 5 June 1907, providing ten-year insurance cover for not only the building but also the following articles: “three altars, pulpit, pews, two confessionals, vestments, and gold and silver: chalices, monstrance, ciboria, candlesticks.”

The church of the Holy Trinity has three altars: the high altar and two side altars.

The high altar dedicated to the Holy Trinity was designed by architect Josip pl. Vancaš. It was made in Anton Lušina's sculpture studio in a combination of the finest white Dalmatian and pinkish Sarajevo marble. The body of the altar consists of three sections, each accentuated at the top by a gable decorated with floral motifs and flanked by phials, the central section rather higher than those to the sides. The trefoil-arched space now contains a copy of a painting of the Throne of Mercy.(11) The altar niches originally contained paintings by Oton Iveković, produced in 1906, and blessed and installed on 18 November 1906. The paintings, in oil on canvas, measuring 217 x 106 (for the central altar niche) and 190 x 90 cm (for the side niches), were dedicated to the Throne of Mercy. The painting in the central niche was signed and dated by the artist: Oton Iveković, 1906. Zagreb. The paintings in the side niches were of the Virgin and Child on the throne and Christ the King enthroned. These paintings have been taken down from the altar and are now in the vicarage.

The foreground of the composition of the Throne of Mercy is dominated by Christ's crucified body. Beginning in the 6th century, the iconography formed the type of Christ crucified as living, with his eyes open. Following the Hellenistic type, Christ is wearing a light blue perizoma (loincloth). Though wearing the crown of thorns, he also has a halo as a sign of Christus triumphans, victorious over death. In the middle ground, God the Father is cradling the cross on which the Son of God has been crucified, on the top of which are the initials INRI (Lat. Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum). A dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, is hovering above the cross.  God the Father is wearing a white robe and purple cloak. The tranquillity of his figure is emphasized by his pale yellow halo and papal crown, denoting the Trinity in this context. He is holding an open book with Christ's ideogram Α and Ω in his left hand, and giving a benediction with his right.

The smaller altar niches to left and right contain sculptures: St Augustine and an angel (left) and St Joseph with the Infant Jesus in his arms (right), the work of the Zagreb-based sculptor Dragan Morak. In the middle of the altar mensa, which rests on four reddish pillars, is a rather large tabernacle the top of which conceals the altar painting. The tabernacle was made at Winkler's, and the gilding on the door was by Franz Naze for the sum of 100 crowns.(12) Inside the tabernacle, and forming an integral part of it, are two gilded ciboria for the consecrated host.

The side altars and pulpit were also made to designs by Vancaš by the Tyrolean firm of Ferdinand Stuflesser. They are of oak, painted and parcel-gilt. The two side altars are dedicated to events in the life of the Virgin. The left-hand altar depicts St Anne teaching the Virgin as a child, and the right-hand altar the Sacred Heart of Mary. The altars are of the same size, 245 x 113.5 cm (it was not possible to measure their height), and are framed in the same style as the high altar, pyramidal at the top, with turrets and decorative floral elements. A sculpture of the Virgin, carved in the round, stands on a wooden plinth in the central trefoil altar niche. The quality and precision of the work on the altars is plain to see in the decorative details (intertwined tendrils, crosses, medallions etc.). The Sacred Heart of Mary is a motif expressing devotion to the Virgin, who was present at Christ's passion. The simple iconography portrays St Mary as a young woman, gaze lowered, wearing elaborate blue and white garments draped over her head and body, revealing only the symbolic sign of love – a flaming heart with roses. The place of the tabernacle is occupied by a wooden crucifix measuring 83 x 34 x 16 cm on a plinth of 26 x 35.5 x 24 cm. The three medallions on the front of the wooden mensa contain a cross in the central medallion flanked by a heart with a cross in the right-hand medallion and motifs resembling horns (the musical instrument) in the left, seen as signifying peace, abundance and prosperity.

A sculpture of St Anne with the Virgin as a child, harmoniously proportioned, adorns the other side altar. St Anne is portrayed as an elderly woman, looking with an expression of concentration at the open book in her left hand. She is wearing a purple robe over which is an elaborate green garment edged in gold is thickly draped. In front of St Anne, her hands clasped in prayer, gazing at her mother, is the Virgin as a child, wearing a white dress decorated with stars and a blue girdle. Her long unbound hair falls in unruly curls down her back. The skilfully carved tabernacle rests on two pillars with capitals composed of curling leaves. The door is divided by a Latin cross into four panels in each of which are vine motifs (Vitis vinifera, symbolizing the relationship between God and his people and also God and the Church) and wheat-sheaves (symbolizing the bread of the Eucharist). Below the pyramidal roof of the tabernacle, the Christogram IHS (Iesus Hominum Salvator) popularized by St Bernardino is set within an arch.

The pulpit rests on a four-fold clustered column in the Romanesque tradition. The pulpit consists of three parts: the simple steps leading up to the platform where the priest stands to deliver the sermon, and the canopy above it. Pulpits typically feature the four Evangelists, as does the pulpit in the church of the Holy Trinity, where the sides of the pulpit are formed by separate upright rectangles within medallions with the symbols of the four Evangelists: a kneeling angel symbolizing St Matthew, with a Latin inscription above: S. MATHEUS; a winged lion symbolizing St Mark (S. MARCUS), an eagle, the principal symbol of St John (.S IOHANES), and the winged ox of St Luke (S. LUCAS). The underside of the canopy is adorned with a representation of the Holy Spirit surrounded by seven bands inscribed in Latin with the seven virtues: INTELLECTUS, CONSILIUM, FORTITUDO, SAPIENTIA, PIETAS. The inscriptions on the remaining two bands are concealed by the structure of the canopy.

The two confessionals and the pews on either side of the entrance to the church were made of ash wood by the firm owned by Petar Butazzoni and Ivan Venturini, and cost 2,400 crowns. The firm of Butazzoni and Venturini  was founded in 1890 and became the largest company producing joinery and furnishings for the building trade in Bosnia and Herzegovina; as a result, its products found their way into numerous representative and important edifices. The confessionals were donated by Kazimir Padavić and the firm of Ventorini and Butazzoni.(13)  

The eleven sculptures in the round adorning the side (north and south) walls of the church and the niches in the side altars were purchased from two Austrian companies in the Tyrol. The treatment of the sculptures, the precision of workmanship and the fine detailing suggests that they were produced in workshops with a long tradition of wood carving.  Each of the sculptures is finished in polychrome and stands on a wooden plinth in the shape of an inverted triangle.

The sculptures on the altar wall are of St Cyril (right) and St Methodius (left). St Cyril is wearing a long, dark brown monk's habit with a hood over his head, and is holding a book under his left arm and a long cross under his right. The cross usually accompanies his brother, St Methodius, representing the cathedral cross.(14) St Methodius is wearing magnificent bishop's vestments, with a white alb and red chasuble decorated with a gold floral border. His bishop's mitre has a gold band around the lower rim and a vertical band dividing the breadth (mitra intitulata), decorated with a red semi-precious stone.

The figure of St Peter stands out on account of its simplicity and elegance. The grey-haired, grey-bearded saint, gazing heavenwards, is holding a book firmly under his left arm, as revealed by the modelling of the arm, on which the veins stand out, and a massive key in his right hand. In the Gospel according to St Matthew (Mt 16:19) these are the keys of heaven, given to him by Jesus. St Peter is wearing a long blue robe falling in graceful folds, with a yellow mantle over, denoting the revelation of the truth.

The figure of St Paul is shown in a slightly contraposed stance, accentuated by the sharp lines of the drapery falling from his left shoulder to his right foot. The movement is also indicated by the thick wooden staff on which he is resting. He is holding a closed book in his right hand, probably the epistles he wrote while in exile.

The statues of SS Cyril and Methodius and those of SS Peter and Paul were made by the Austrian company of Franz Schmatzel at St Ulrich in Gröden in the Tyrol, and were donated by Johann and Viktorija Rusnák.(15)    

The statues of St John the Baptist, St Stephen the Protomartyr, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Moses, like those of St Anne, the Virgin as a child and the Virgin in the niches of the side altars, were made in the workshop of Ferdinand Stuflesser, also in the Tyrol.

St John the Baptist is portrayed as a hermit, barefoot and dressed in sheepskin, his bare shoulders covered by a red mantle with a gold border. The movement of the sculpture is indicated by the advancing left foot. The saint is clasping in both hands a long cross with an inscription of the Annunciation.

Particular care was devoted to the modelling of the extremely youthful figure of St Stephen the Protomartyr, indicated by his rosy cheeks and unruly curly hair. Eyes raised, his face bears a single-minded, sorrowful expression. His long white robe with a red floral “embroidered” border emphasizes the harmonious proportions of his body. His knee-length red dalmatic adds to the colour harmony of the sculpture. He has a pile of stones in his left hand, symbolizing his martyrdom by stoning in Jerusalem: St Stephen was the first Christian deacon and the first to be martyred for his faith, in the 1st century(16), hence his title of Protomartyr.

The polychrome wooden sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (97 x 29 x 29 cm) is now in the sacristy. The volume of the sculpture is achieved by the rhythmical alternation of the smooth and pleated areas of the red mantle and white robe. The beauty of Jesus' youthful face is enhanced by the distinctive treatment of the hair and his calm gaze, eyes lowered. His right hand, showing the signs of his passion with blood oozing from the nail holes, reaches out towards the observer, and his left hand is laid on his heart, the symbol of his love and sacrifice. The right-hand side of the plinth bears a carved inscription and coat of arms, partly illegible: Mayoriche K. KofKunstastalall/München. This suggests that the sculpture was made in Munich, but does not rule out the possibility that it was sold and later purchased in the Tyrol.

The treatment of the masculine face half-hidden by curly hair and a long wavy beard, and the scroll with letters of the Hebrew alphabet, suggest that the last sculpture is of Moses. The folds of the red robe and blue mantle, forming unbroken pleats, fall in opposite directions, accentuating the volume of the sculpture.

A chalice and a monstrance, probably donated or purchased after the church was built, are kept in the sacristy.

The short, six-lobed, gilded foot of the chalice, measuring about 24 x 16 cm, has a concave curved rim. The bowl of the chalice is decorated with finely-executed filigree enriched by semi-precious stones of various colours. Unlike the foot and the bowl, the knop where the bowl and foot meet is emphasized by a simple foliar interlace. The foot of the chalice bears a largely illegible inscription in German, with the word ECHT (genuine). This could indicate either that the chalice was the original work of a particular workshop, or that it was made of gold.

The silver-gilt foot of the monstrance, measuring about 31 x 15 cm, is of simple bell-shaped outline. Above it is a heart-shaped knob with small decorations. The monstrance consists of a cross with a transparent mid-section around which are decorative bands. Strips modelled to resemble rays of light radiate from this section around the main body of the monstrance.

To the left of the main entrance, on the south wall, is a large wooden crucifix measuring 173 x 108 x 5 cm, donated by the Rusnák family in 1907. Christ's dead body is sagging under its own weight, eyes closed and head turned to the left, with blood flowing from his hands and feet where the nails had pierced them. The two-line titulus, in the form of a scroll, bears the initials IN/RI, with another text beneath: SAVE/SOUL/SACRED MISSION 1966. The inscription at Jesus's feet bears the year and the name of the donors: DONATED BY/JOHANN AND VIKTORIJA RUSNÁK/1907.


3. Legal status to date

The church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo was not entered in the Register of Immovable Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was not subject to a protection regime.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works

The following works were carried out in 1990 - 1991:

-          repairs to the roof trusses and tile roof cladding

-          restoration of the façades

-          injecting the walls to prevent rising damp

After the 1992-1995 war, work began in 1999 on repairs to the roof cladding of the church. This was followed in 2000 by constructing the roof timbers and sheet-copper cladding of the bell tower, and by repainting the façades with alternating bands of ochre and yellow. Interior refurbishment works were carried out at the same time.

In 2005 the Stanišić stained-glass studio in Sombor made new stained glass for the windows of the church.

The drying out of the rising damp in the church and the installation of hydro- and thermal insulation, together with laying flagstones on the floor, were completed in 2008.


5. Current condition of the property

The findings of an on-site inspection conducted in March 2009 were that the building is structurally sound, well maintained and in use. The movable property is also in good condition.


6. Specific risks

There are no specific risks posing a danger to the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo.



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

D.i.       material evidence of a lesser-known historical era

D.ii.      evidence of historical change

D.iii.      work of a major artist or builder

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 identify of a group of people

G.         Authenticity

G.i.       form and design

G.ii.      material and content

G.iii.     use and function

G.iv.      tradition and techniques

G.v.      location and setting

G.vi.      spirit and feeling

G.vii.     other internal and external factors

H.         Rarity and representativity

H.iii.      work of a prominent artist, architect or craftsman

I.          Completeness

I.i.         physical coherence

I.ii.        homogeneity

I.iii.       completeness


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan;

-          Evidence of title;

-          Photodocumentation: photographs taken by a member of staff of the Commission;

-          Drawings by a member of staff of the Commission.



During the procedure to designate the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted: 


1989.    Božić, Jela, Arhitekt Josip pl. Vancaš, Značaj i doprinos arhitekturi Sarajeva u periodu austrougarske uprave (Architect Josip Vancaš, Significance and Contribution to the Architecture of Sarajevo during the Austro-Hungarian Period), doctoral dissertation, University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Architecture, Sarajevo


1999.    Mutapčić, Snježana, “Sarajevske crkve kroz povijest umjetnosti,” (Churches of Sarajevo through the History of Art), Hrvatska misao 11-12, Matica hrvatska, Sarajevo, 1999, 135-151


2002.    Perković, Marinko, Sto godina župne crkve presvetog Trojstva Novo Sarajevo (A Hundred Years of the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo), Vrhbosnia Archbishopric Sarajevo, Parish Office of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo, Sarajevo 2002


2002.    Mutapčić, Snježana, “Arhitektura i umjetnost crkve u Novom Sarajevu,” (Art of the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo), Sto godina župne crkve presvetog Trojstva Novo Sarajevo (A Hundred Years of the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo), Parish Office of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo, Sarajevo 2002


2006.    Badurina, Anđelko (ed), Leksikon ikonografije, liturgike i simbolike zapadnog kršćanstva (Lexicon of the Iconography, Liturgy and Symbols of Western Christianity), Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnjost


2007.    Ravlić, Ivan, Sto godina župne crkve presvetog Trojstva Novo Sarajevo (A Hundred Years of the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo), Parish Office of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo, Sarajevo 2007


2007.    Mutapčić, Snježana, “Umjetnost crkve presvetog Trojstva u Sarajevu,” (Art of the church of the Holy Trinity in Sarajevo), Sto godina župne crkve presvetog Trojstva Novo Sarajevo (A Hundred Years of the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo), Parish Office of the Holy Trinity Novo Sarajevo, Sarajevo 2007, 19-29.


(1) Born in Slavonski Brod on 24 January 1843, he was educated in his native town, in Požega and in Zagreb. Studying at the Gregorian Papal University in Rome, he gained a doctorate first in philosophy and then in theology. He was ordained in Rome in 1868, and then returned to Zagreb, where he became a grammar school teacher at the seminary, and later a university professor at the Catholic Faculty of Theology.  In 1881 Pope Leo XIII appointed him as Archbishop of Vrhbosnia in Sarajevo, where he built the Vrhbosnia cathedral church, the seminary with the church of SS Cyril and Methodius, the chapter-house and the archbishop's palace. He also built a seminary and grammar school in Sarajevo. He founded the Society of the Sisters Servants of the Infant Jesus. He was distinguished by his charitable work, as part of which he founded the Betlehem and Egipat orphanages in Sarajevo for children and almshouses for elderly women. He died in Sarajevo at the age of  75, and is buried in the cathedral in Sarajevo.

(2) Josip pl. Vancaš was born in Šopronj, Hungary, on 22 March 1859, but from 1865 he lived in Zagreb, where he graduated from secondary school. From 1881 he attended Technical High School, department of architecture in Vienna, and from 1882 to 1884 he studied architecture with Prof. Friedrich Schmidt at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In 1883 Vancaš was commissioned to design the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Provincial Government building in Sarajevo. He came to Sarajevo on 10 March 1884, and remained there for the next 37 years. In 1921 he went to Zagreb, where he continued working at his profession. He died in Zagreb on 15 December 1932.

His extensive architectural opus is estimated at about 300 designs, most of which were built. Most of his designs were for the city of Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina, though he also designed buildings for Croatia, Slavonia and Slovenia. He designed 70 churches, among them the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Sarajevo, the Catholic church of the Assumption of the Virgin in Stup, the church of St John the Baptist in Kraljeva Sutjeska, the parish churches of Brčko, Bijeljina, Gradačac, Modriča, Žepče and Prozor, the Orthodox church in Konjic and the church in Bosanski Brod.

(3) Snježana Mutapčić. “Umjetnost crkve Presvetog Trojstva u Sarajevu. Na spomen stogodišnjice crkve” in Ivan Ravlić. Sto godina župne crkve Presvetog Trojstva Novo Sarajevo. Sarajevo: Parish Office of the Holy  Trinity, Novo Sarajevo, 2007, 79.

(4) Idem, 20.

(5) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit., 2007, 22.

(6) A study of the documents of other churches and the cathedral in Sarajevo reveals Vancaš' influence in their decorative treatment.

(7) The Provincial Governor, Albori, donated 600 crowns for the Transfiguration, and Oberstar Feszl donated 700 crowns for the Baptism of Christ.

(8) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit. 2007, 22.

(9) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit, 2007, 28.

(10) Translator’s note: The reference to the side walls as “north and south” is puzzling. Here and elsewhere it is translated as in the original, but since the church is described as lying north-south with the entrance at the south end, the side walls should logically be the east and west walls. Possibly the use of “north and south” in this context is prompted by the convention that churches lie east-west with the entrance at the west end and the altar at the east end.

(11) Throne of Mercy (Lat. Thronus pietatis, Gr. Thrónus, a seat or throne of honour; Ger. Gnadenstuhl). Iconographic depiction of the Trinity, with God the Father enthroned, holding the cross with Christ crucified, with a dove between him and the top of the cross, denoting the Holy Spirit. In some cases the entire scene is set in a mandorla, in others God the Father is seated on a rainbow. Anđelko Badurina (ed). Leksikon ikonografije, liturgike i simbolike zapadnog kršćanstva. Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnost, 2006, 515 – 515.

The copy, to a scale of 1:1, was painted in 2000 in oil on canvas by Katarina Polić Pilal, an academic painter from Sarajevo.

(12) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit. 2007, 24.

(13) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit. 2007, 23.

(14) Tradition has it that St Methodius was ordained as a bishop by the Pope, who sent him to Pannonia as Bishop of Srijem, hence his portrayal in the iconography with a cathedral cross. Anđelko Badurina (ed). Leksikon ikonografije, liturgike i simbolike zapadnog kršćanstva. Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnost, 2006, 214.

(15) Snježana Mutapčić, op.cit. 2007, 24.

(16) Anđelko Badurina (ed). Leksikon ikonografije, liturgike i simbolike zapadnog kršćanstva. Zagreb: Kršćanska sadašnost, 2006, 580.

Church of the Holy TrinitySouth facadeWest viewEast view
EntrancePortal and rosette InteriorChoir
The high altar dedicated to the Holy Trinity Side altar dedicated to Sacred Heart of MarySide altar Baptistery
Stained-glass windowThe pulpit - The underside of the canopy Way of the CrossParish house

BiH jezici 
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