Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Provisional List

About the Provisional List

List of Petitions for Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Heritage at Risk

60th session - Decisions

Mediaeval Royal Castle of Bobovac, the historic site

gallery back

Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 5 to 11 November 2002 the Commission adopted a



            The historic site of the Mediaeval Royal Castle of Bobovac is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The site is located on cadastral plot 378/1, cadastral municipality Miljakovići, Municipality Vareš, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation 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 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.


The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be duty  bound to ensure and provide the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina 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.


            The clearing and removal of the ramparts, the erection of new buildings, cutting wood, grazing livestock and other actions that might alter the setting of the Castle are prohibited.  On the areas of the site designed as Crkvice, the temporary erection of structures designed for concerts, theatrical performances and suchlike shall be allowed by way of exception.

            Within the protected areas specified in para. 1 of this Article, the installation of prefabricated wood-built toilet cabins and rest-area shelters shall be permitted, in compliance with the conditions laid down by the competent Institution for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            No industrial facilities, main roads infrastructure, quarries or potential environmental polluters shall be permitted within a protective zone of a minimum width of 2 km from the outer limits of the protected site.


            All legislation in force and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are to be revoked.


Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal services, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the protection and rehabilitation thereof.


            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federal Ministry of Urban Planning and the Environment, the Institute for Protection of National Monuments within the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports, 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, III and IV 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 to Preserve National Monuments.


Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina are final and enforceable.


This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH and the Official Gazette of FBiH.   

            This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.

                                                                                              Chairman of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović

No.: 01-277/02

06 Nov. 2002,


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 (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) 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 (hereinafter referred to as Annex 8) and as 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.

            At a session held on 11 March 1998 the Commission issued a Decision to include the historic site of the mediaeval castle of Bobobac on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 722, and proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V 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 reviewed:

·          Documentation on the location of the Property and current owner and user of the Property (Municipality Vareš: copy of cadastral plan and copy of land register entry; Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH: ruling on legal protection of the cultural monument)

·          Information concerning the current condition and use of the Property, including a description and photographs, data on possible war damage, information on possible restoration or other works on the property, etc;

·          Historical, architectural or other documentation on the Property.

The findings based on the review of the above documentation are as follows:

1.      Information on the Locality


The Castle of Bobovac is situated near the villages Miljakovići and Dragovići in Vareš Municipality. It was erected above the confluence of the Miljakovska and Bukovica rivers, on the southern slopes of the mountain massif of Dragovske and Miljakovske Poljice. The Castle is accessible from two directions, Kraljeva Sutjeska and Vareš.

Historical Information

This topographically prominent site was used for defence purposes as early as the Bronze and Iron Ages (from the second millennium to the year 400 BCE: the locality of Gradina by the east tower on Vis). Roof tiles dating from antiquity have been found all over the area, and remains of the earliest architecture (4th to 6th C.) at Bobovac are visible on the north wall of the main tower of the Royal Castle.

Information provided by written sources dating from the the Bosnian mediaeval State covers the period from 1350 to 1460. Documents dating from the Ottoman Period cover the period up to1626, when it was finally abandoned, having lost its strategic importance following the Ottoman invasions to the north and the expansion of the occupied lands. (P. Anđelić, 1972, pp. 139-144, A Short List of all Written Documents for the Period from 1350 to 1463. E. Kreševljaković, 1953, pp.17-19, Written Documents for the Period 1502-1626).

            As the royal seat of the Bosnian Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić, who took the first steps to erect the Castle around the mid 14th century, and later as the seat of the Bosnian Kings from Tvrtko I to Tomaš, up to 1461, Bobovac was the key to the Bosnian Kingdom. It was thus the target of repeated assaults by those attempting to capture the Bosnian throne or destroy the Bosnian State.  As the Royal seat, the Castle was the admministrative and military centre of the Bosnian State, and it was there that the Bosnian royal crown was kept.  Bosnia’s Kings Ostoja, Tvrtko II and Stjepan Tomaš were buried there. The last Bosnian King, Stjepan Tomašević (1461 – 1463), moved the Royal Court to Jajce due to the immediate danger from the Ottomans. After the conquest, the Castle of Bobovac was destroyed for justifiable strategic reasons in 1463, as has been confirmed by archaeological research. Later the Ottomans constructed on the ruins of the Royal Court the buildings they needed for their presence in the Castle (1463-1626).

Legal Status to Date

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, and by ruling of the Regional Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, no. 02-856/1 dated 27 November 1959 in Sarajevo, the mediaeval Castle of Bobovac, adjacent to the villages of Miljakovići and Dragovići, Municipality Vareš, cadastral plot. No.: 378/1, owned by the State, was accorded protected status as a cultural monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            On 18 April 1962 it was entered in the Register of Monuments, under number 170, by decision of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Sarajevo.

            On 11 March 1998, it was entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2.      Description of the Monument


            The Castle is characterized by three dominant features of the terrain:

-          the hill of Vis to the north, with a relative height of 30 m;

-          the edge of Crkvice terrace in the centre, and

-          the oldest nucleus of the Castle fortifications with the Royal Court to the south.

The lowest point of Bobovac mountainside is between Crkvica and the Royal Court; it is known as Glavna kapija (Main Gate), and is where the main entrance gates to the Castle and the entrance tower formerly stood.

Zoning features of the site

            The basic components of Bobovac as an urban settlement are as follows: town walls; the Royal Court complex, which also served as an acropolis or citadel, the main street, the complex of sacral and ancillary buildings on Crkvica, a small square in front of the church with a font in its center – on Crkvica, a residential settlement inside the walls – around the Main Gate and on the slopes of Vis; a smaller settlement (a suburb) on the southwest slopes of Bobovac mountain – outside the town walls; a specific settlement (below the acropolis) outside the north gate of Bobovac, so-called Grad (Town), which was basically of trading and artisanal character. In terms of its components, Bobovac is an outstanding example of the specifically mediaeval urban agglomeration characteristic of the whole of continental Europe at that time. The entry to the town was probably through the drawbridge below Vis, leading up to the levelled area of Crkvice, and further along the main route to the main tower and the gate onto the ridge, which lost its purpose with the erection of buildings on Crkvica and Vis. From the ridge the road continued on towards the Upper Town and Lower Town.

Architecture of

the Fortification of Bobovac

            The walls of Bobovac enclose in an irregular line the end of the rocky karst slope of Bobovac mountain to the south. The east wall runs uphill to the terrace on Crkvica, where it turns to the east slope, to the ridge of Crvena stijena (Red Rock). The west wall skirts the foot of Vis, runs around the plateau of Crkvica and reaches the main tower of the Castle. The ramparts are in a poor state of preservation: only here and there to they exceed 1 m. in height.  The walls are from 100 to 110 cm thick, with a total length of some 1100 m.   They are reinforced here and there by buttresses.

            Every type of tower typical of mediaval Bosnia is to be found in the fortifications of Bobovac: the square main tower (donjon or keep), with dimensions of 8 x 8m, abutting in part on a wall dating from antiquity, is the oldest object in Bobovac. An oval-based cistern was constructed in the interior of the keep. Next to it is another tower of quadrilateral ground plan, which probably served as accommodation. The Branič tower (defense tower) on Vis in the northern part of the fort is of irregular hexagonal ground plan, with walls 3 to 4 m. thick at their foundations. As the main and strategically most important tower, it was destroyed deliberately and systematically.  A large quantity of pottery and animal bones was found in the ruins, archaeological material typical of all sites of this kind in BiH. The round tower on Crkvica abuts against the burial chapel, forming an apparent single unit when seen from outside. Two towers of various construction standing next to the entrance gate, on the so-called Bobovačko sedlo (Bobovac saddle or ridge) served as entrance towers. On the east slope of Vis, 15 m. outside the Fort, there was a free-standing tower. This type of tower is typical of the architectural style of western European fortifications.  In addition to the towers with specific functions, there were a further five towers forming part of the ramparts of the Fort.

Royal Court

            The Royal Court complex is situated on the part of Bobovac that enjoys the best natural defences, fitted into five karst ridges, on three basic levels sloping gently from north to south. The road to the Court lead to the first court gate, leading into the forecourt of the Court.  The area around the entrance, built of limestone with the form of arch in the upper part, served as a barbican. The look-out tower (keep) was situated to the south.   Other lesser buildings in the forecourt include a smithy.  A separate stairway, apparently roofed over, led to the second Court gate and the forecourt of the Lower Palace.  Here, in fact, was the representative entrance to the Court, through a gate decorated with a gothic portal bearing the coat of arms of King Tvrtko II and lanterns.   In this forecourt there were several buildings located on three terraces: a granary, battlements, a large cistern, a smithy, a limepit and a small residential building.

            The Lower or Grand Palace has a ground plan of an irregular quadrilateral with dimensions of 25 x 10  m, the south wall of which was built on a limestone ridge and the north entirely formed by a stone cliff. From the appearance of the partly preserved walls, it may be assumed that the building had at least four storeys.  The main entrance to the Palace was built of precisely cut blocks of muljika (a kind of siltstone used in construction) with gothic moulding, and the capitals of the door-posts were decorated with a motif of rows of fleur de lis. A moulded window frame of the Romano-Gothic distyle, with motifs of wide vine leaves executed in a shallow relief, was discovered by the south wing facade. There is little information on the interior of the Palace. All that has been discovered is some remains of ceramic stoves stamped with the coat of arms and title of King Tvrtko II Tvrtković, in the north wing. In the oldest stratum of the ruins, a large stone block was found with the image of an eagle. The features of the archaeological strata in the Palace are similar to that of the forecourt: soot forming the oldest layer, a central mediaeval stratum of rubble, and an upper stratum dating from 1463 – 1626.

            The Upper Palace and forecourt are situated on the uppermost level, next to the keep and the cistern.  To the east another Palace, known as the annex, was added on. From the forecourt, which connected with the keep, one entered an elongated area of the Upper Palace, with interior dimensions of 18-19 x 5-5.6 m. The thickness of the perimeter walls is 140 to 150 cm. There were wooden stairs and a gallery to the upper storey. In the northern room a facing of cut limestone blocks was found, which suggests the existence of an interior vault. The room was probably used as a Court chapel furnished for Dorotea Gorjanska, King Tvrtko II’s spouse. Further confirmation of this was the discovery of a fragment of a fluted column with traces of gilding. The Palace windows of the Palace were richly ornamented distyles and tristyles.

            The Annex of the Upper Palace is a two-storey building, with dimensions of 18 x 6 m., which abutted against the Upper Palace on one side, and onto the Lower Palace on the other.  In this building the workshops of master craftsmen engaged on precision crafts were located.

Residential architecture

            Besides the three palaces within the Royal Court omplex, there was another, with dimensions of 11 x 6 m., on the Crkvica terrace. This was a two-storey building occupied by Franciscans (the Franciscans’ Palace).

            The residential buildings of the Bobovac settlement             form a number of dispersed groups within the town ramparts, in the small downtown to the south and the suburb to the north, outside the walls.  The stony terrain was mainly used at the time of building, with wood the only building material used.  Most of the buildings had a square ground plan of 4 x 4 m. with no partition walls.  An exception is a house differing from the others in its more complex construction and interior decoration, which probably belonged to the Court Chaplain.

Complex of places of worship at Crkvica: Burial Chapel of Bosnian Kings and the Grand Church

            The assumption is that King Ostoja had the old Bobovac Church turned into the royal burial chapel. The chapel is oriented east-west, and consists basically of two areas: the nave, with interior dimensions of 7.70 x 6.45 m, and the apse, measuring 4.48 x 3.30 m. A wooden partition divided the nave into two, with the section nearest the apse reserved for the burial of members of the royal family, and the remainder open to visitors.  The floor of the church was on two levels, with that of the apse some 10 cm higher than the nave floor.  The floor of the apse and eastern end of the nave is of estrih (a kind of cement glazing) and the remainder is paved.  The walls, 140-150 cm thick, supported a gothic vault of cut limestone blocks. The architectural ornamentation was rich and very diverse in motifs, and the quality of execution was immaculate. Some fresco fragments with fleur de lis motifs, fragments of a portal with a pattern of chequerboard stripes, a fragment of a pinnacle with a round medallion bearing an image of a crown with the initials ST (Stjepan Tomaš), fragments of half-pillars, part of the figure of a lion, consoles in the form of a human head, part of the sculpture of a saint, and fragments bearing parts of an inscription, as well as a fragment of a keystone from the apse vault, have been found there. The whole interior of the Chapel was painted. On some of the fragments of mortar two layers of mortar base can be distinguished: the lower with strokes of red paint, used both for drapery as well as for the visual composition to the right of the entrance to the Church. The drapery was decorated with two lines of rosettes in dark-brown paint. The upper regions of the Church were opulently painted, in various tones and nuances of red, gold, dark gray and dark brown. Among iconographical motifs, human figures, vegetable and geometrical motifs may be noted. Architectural motifs mainly take the form of graphic architectural forms used to divide up the larger wall surfaces.

            Three bronze bells also belonged to the Chapel: one was of Romanesque form, and was made around the middle of the 14th C, another bore an inscription in gothic uncials: “Made by master craftsman Marko Pribislav in AD 1410” (during the reign of king Ostoja), and the third bore an image of St. Michael, an inscription referring to master craftsman Marko Vendramus, and the date 1396. Three royal tombstones and two sepulchres belonging to the Royal Burial Chapel were discovered in the Chapel. The sepulchres were composed of composite sarcophagi with gravestone plaques laid on top, made of red marble from Pannonia (Šikloš, Ostrogon or Erdelj), with relief images of the deceased and inscriptions around the edges. The plaques belonged to Kings Ostoja, Tvrtko II and Tomaš. The inscriptions on the plaques were executed in calligraphic Gothic Fraktur; all three were presumably executed in the same workshop in Buda (Hungary), but Tomaš’s plaque was probably made by a different craftsman. In aesthetic value these plaques surpass the European average of their kind of that date, and as regards the region of the Hungaro-Croatian state of that time, they are outstanding (P. Anđelić, 1973, p. 94).

The Grand Church lies parallel to and some 12 m. from the Chapel. Its construction  began in the reign of King Tomaš and his spouse Katarina, but did not go beyond laying the foundations. The total length of the church was 23.10 m, and the interior was composed of a nave, choir, and presbytery in the shape of three apses.


            Since the Chapel has been rebuilt using methods not recognized by either the theory or the practice of the conservation of the architectural heritage – analogy and assumption – and that the materials used, as well as the way they were treated and the construction techniques used, were not authentic, the value of the Chapel is diminished.


Graveyards or gravestones have been identified in five locations on the Fort of Bobovac and its immediate surroundings:  the Royal Burial Chapel, the porch and courtyard of the Royal Burial Chapel, the graveyard in Braničevo, the locality of Crkvica on the road to Sutjeska and the Ottoman shehid’s (martyr’s) graveyard at the confluence at the foothills of Bobovac.

Archaeological Findings

The majority of the pottery is of from domestic, “Slavic” manufacture. In the Royal Court complex, mediaeval pottery mingles with that of the Ottoman period, whilst in the buildings at Crkvica and the ruins of some of the towers there are strata with intact mediaeval material. The most common form is the old Slavic pot, with dishes and bowls less common.  Ornamentation is reduced to horizontal and wavy lines and on some artifacts attempts to coat the rough domestic pottery with green glazing are apparent. Green-glazed pottery was, however, produced by craftsmen in other lands. Stove tiles appear in two forms: one square backed by an irregular pyramid, the other in the shape of a glass. The square tiles belonged to stoves from the royal rooms, as is apparent from the inscriptions and coats of arms on them (Tvrtko II), and the latter to various stoves in the palaces and the Franciscans’ Palace. The ceramic lamps, unique in manufacture and form, which lit the second representative entrance to the Royal Court, were probably imported from Hungary. In the Royal Court complex, around 30 fragments made in maiolica techique, strata (archaic maiolica) dating from the mid 14th to the late 15th c. (a Florence workshop, period of the gothic-floral style) were found. In the Annex of the Upper Palace a negative (mould) for heraldic ornaments, as well as moulds to produce stove tiles with the image of the royal coat of arms, were discovered.

            Fragments belonging to various kinds and forms of glass objects (glasses, phials, bottles, stained glass) were mainly discovered in the ruins of the Royal Court. Such items were imported from German and Italian workshops.

There are numerous objects made of iron. Among these, craftsman’s and agricultural tools, various clamps, spikes and keys predominate, whilst armour and harness are less common (arrows, spurs, gilded iron sword scabbards, horseshoes, a stone mould for making rifle bullets). Examples of jewelry are also few. Among the finds of carved ivory, the most valuable is a specimen with the image of a woman on a gilded base.

            As for food products, remains of wheat, barley and millet were found (in separate containers), as well as piles of animal bones, in particular where the Castle’s military forces were housed.

Architectural finds have been referred to in the section on the architecture of Monument.

3.      Research and Conservation and Restoration Work

From 1960 to 1969, successive works of conservation of the excavated buildings were carried out with the aim of preventing the collapse of the parts of the excavated structure that were most at risk.  The works were managed by Dr. I. Bojanovski, the archaeologist and art conservator of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, while the project for the restoration of the burial chapel was drawn up by A. Ninković, graduate Architect.

-          Between 14 August and 08 September 1060, the conservation of Donji grad (Lower Town) and its cistern was completed;

-          In September 1961, conservation of the Royal Court at Lower Town.;

-          In Sept. 1962, conservation of the Royal Court at Upper Town and the Donjon (Keep);

-          In Sept. 1963, the Mausoleum (Royal Burial Chapel) and the Tower at Crkvica were repaired;

-          Between 20 Aug.and  03 Oct. 1964, conservation of the Royal Court at Lower Town, the Church at Crkvica and the Keep.

-          Between 23 Aug. and 24 Sept. 1965, conservation of the forecourt of the Royal Court, buildings and underpinnings at Crkvica;

-          Between 09 Aug. 1966 and 07 Sept. 1966, rehabilitation of the Keep, Palace and underpinnings at Crkvica;

-          Between 02 June 1967 and 13 Oct. 1969, conservation of the Defense-Tower, the Tower at Vis and the underpinnings at Crkvica;

-          In summer 2002, the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of BiH undertook urgent interventions on the Crkvica plateau with the Burial Chapel. The windows and doors of the Chapel were replaced, and the roof and lightning rod repaired. The collapsed buttressing wall outside the Burial Chapel was rebuilt and reinforced. The eastern walls and the Franciscans’ Palace were renovated.

4.      Current Condition of the Site

The current condition of the site (Sept. 2002) may be described as follows:

-          the site has suffered no war damage;

-          the site is not exposed to any specific risks;

-          the site is at risk of rapid deterioration due to the lack of regular maintenance;

-          all excavated archaeological material, except for a number of heavy stone monuments from the Burial Chapel, has been stored in the Regional Museum. The remaining stone monuments could be also transferred to the RM, as currently the site is accessible throughout.


            Bobovac was the royal seat of the Bosnian rulers from the reign of Ban Stjepan (Stephan) II Kotromanić to the end of the Bosnian Kingdom (first half of the 14th c – 1463). Bobovac is the only mediaeval castle-fortification of which the Royal Court has been fully studied, and represents a typical example of mediaeval architecture and an urban ensemble, perfectly integrated into its natural setting. The many archaeological remains testify to the life of the leading Bosnian feudal aristocracy, which was integrated into the European culture of the day. Its educational value is very high, since with proper presentation on the entire site, the material culture and political history of the independent mediaeval Bosnian state can be displayed.

            By applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision to designate a property as a National Monument (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02) and with regard to the historic value (B), artistic and aesthetic value (C), clarity (D), symbolic value (E), landscape value (F), authenticity (G) uniqueness and rarity (H.i), and integrity (I) of the site in question, the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan

-          Copy of land register entry and ownership certificate;

-          Photodocumentation;

-          Drawings

The documentation annexed to the Decision is public and available for view by interested persons on written request to the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


- P. Anđelić 1973, Bobovac i Kraljeva Sutjeska, stona mjesta bosanskih vladara u XIV stoljeću. Sarajevo, 1973. (Bobovac and Kraljeva Sutjeska, Royal Seats of the Bosnian Rulers in the 14th c.);

- H. Kreševljaković, Stari bosanski gradovi. Naše starine I, Sarajevo, 1953, 7-46. (Ancient Bosnian Towns. Our Antiquities I, p.p. 7-46);


- I. Bojanovski, Stari grad Bobovac. Naše starine VIII, Sarajevo, 1962, p.p.71-94.





View at the Crkvice terrace and the oldest nucleus of the Castle fortifications with the Royal Court  Mediaeval Royal Castle of BobovacRemains of the Royal Court Complex of places of worship at Crkvica
Remains of the Royal palaceThe highest part of the Royal Castle - Vis  

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