Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Town mosque and graveyard, the architectural ensemble

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 6 to 12 May 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of the Town mosque and graveyard in Velika Kladuša is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on a site covering cadastral plot no. 1618/1, cadastral municipality Velika Kladuša, Velika Kladuša Municiaplity, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the mosque building, the mosque graveyard, an ablutions fountain, and tombstones in the graveyard.

            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 (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for the following measures:

Ÿ          Carrying out research for the purpose of drawing up a project for the restoration and conservation of the architectural ensemble of the Town mosque in Velika Kladuša;

Ÿ          all demolition, repairs, extensions and other building works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works and work designed to display the building, approved and carried out under the professional supervision of relevant professional bodies,

Ÿ          during restoration, conservation and display works on the building the original appearance of the building must be retained with the use of original materials and workmanship and original building methods

Ÿ          the removal of plastic door and window frames and concrete flooring from the mosque and of facing bricks from the surrounding wall, given that they detract from the architectural ensemble of the National Monument,

Ÿ          restoring krajputaši nišani tombstones to their original positions according to the 1998 blueprint

Ÿ          landscaping the mosque graveyard.




            All executive 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 authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for town 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 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 (http://www.anek8komisija.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 and the Official Gazette of the Federation 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.


Chairman of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović

No: 08.2-6-493/03-5                                                                               

7 May 2003



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 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.

            The Commission received a petition from Velika Kladuša Municipality on 16 October 2002.

            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 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:

Ÿ          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ          Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.

Ÿ          Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


            During the course of these proceedings, all interested parties were able to express their views on the property.  The Majlis (council) of the Islamic Community of Velika Kladuša, represented by the imam, expressed the view that they did not wish to propose the property for designation as a national monument, with the explanation that a Decision of the Commission would prevent them from renovating the building.

            Velika Kladuša Municipality reaffirmed its view that it was important to preserve the building, given that so many religious buildings have been demolished.

The findings based on the review of the above documentation, the condition of the site and the views of interested parties are as follows:


1. Data on the site


            The town mosque is in the central part of Velika Kladuša, on Ahmeta Mržljaka square, at the intersection of I. Nanića and 7 August streets, cadastral municipality Velika Kladuša, cadastral plot no. 1618/1, Velika Kladuša Municipality, Federation of BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Historical information

            The earliest written records on Velika Kladuša date from the twelfth century.  On the basis of known historical records, the first time the name Kladuša was mentioned was on 30 October 1280, as Cladosa.  At this time the entire region belonged to the princes of Blagajski Babonjići.  However, in 1314 there was a rift within this great family, and Kladuša passed into the possession of prince Rdoslav Blagajski.

            The development of the town in the middle ages was directly linked to the fairground in Maljevac, whence it was later transferred under the town of Kladuša.  There is an interesting folk tradition on the origins and names of surrounding areas in the Velika Kladuša municipality, which recounts that it acquired its name from its first overlord, one Kladar.  The ruins of mediaeval fortresses dating from 1450 are still visible in Podzvizd, erected by a lady Marija Zvijezda; in Vrnograč, built by Princess Vrana, the youngest daughter of the wealthy Dobriša; and in Todorovo, which ceased to exist as Novigrad in 1560, when it acquired the name Todor Grad, later Todorovo, as it is still known.

            According to evidence from the historical records of the Archives of Croatia, the town was fortified in the fourteenth century, because of frequent Turkish incursions in the region.  The Turks finally conquered Kladuša in 1633, and held it until the town fell to Austro-Hungarian rule.  During those two and a half centuries many people settled in the town, with considerable help from the authorities.

            During the night of 19 to 20 February 1878, Velika Kladuša fell to the Austro-Hungarians.

A major population influx led to the need for more facilities – markets, artisans' workshops, residential buildings, and many religious buildings, usually mosques.  Under Austro-Hungarian rule two mosques were built which are in fact two of the most striking buildings erected at that time.

            The town mosque was the first to be completed, on 27 September 1901, when the ceremonial opening was the largest celebration ever to be seen in that part of the world at that time.  Following the formal celebrations, horse races, foot races and cycle races were held, and the entire spectacle was given the final touch with splendid folk dances (ef. Hilić, p. 19)

            The event was also covered, several months late, by the magazine Nada, in an article describing the formal opening of the mosque and giving a list of guests at the ceremony.

            In his book Velika Kladuša kroz stoljeća (Velika Kladuša through the ages) Aleksandar Ravlić writes as follows (pp. 162 and 176): «The mosque stands on one of the finest sites in Kladuša, in the middle of the promenade, and is of dressed stone.  The interior is very tastefully decorated with arabesques and suras.  It was built with contributions from the people of the region, and with the intercession of the district prefect of Bihać and the head of Cazin district.  It rises in front of the Kladuša fort, and facing it over the Grabarski brook is the prominent historic Croatian Cetin.»

            According to accounts by the inhabitants, for three years special master-craftsmen from the Littoral carved and dressed the stone for the mosque.  The minaret is made of stone held together with 20 mm thick iron tie-rods.  While the walls were being built the stone was pointed with molten lead, with the result that the minaret of this mosque is one of the strongest (ef. Hilić, p. 22.).

            The construction was assisted on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian administration in the region by the Kotor district head Bahtija - Atif Omar Bahtijarević, as recorded in an inscription in Turkish, reading:

 «A fortunate man reached these parts


Whom all the locals came to like.

This Bahtijar erected this noble mosque,

And may he find a place in paradise and a friend in

Abu Bakir, 1319» (1901)


Legal status to date:

            The town plans of Velika Kladuša Municipality for 1986-2005, and of the town of Velika Kladuša, and other planning documents dating from 1960, designate and register the town mosque as the cultural and historical heritage of the town and municipality of Velika Kladuša in order to preserve its authenticity.


2. Description of the monument

            The town mosque in Velika Kladuša belongs to the type of mosque with a hipped roof and open sofas (porches) below a separate pent roof, and with a stone minaret.  The mosque has a a rectangular ground plan oriented north-west/south-east.  There is a graveyard around the mosque.  The stone minaret is built against the south-western wall of the building.  This type of mosque was much favoured in the early years of the Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina, when buildings similar in form, spatial concept and choice of materials were also built in other parts of the country.  Certain similarities with the Kladuša mosque can be seen, for example, in the Čaršija mosque in Tuzla, where the same building material is used for the walls, and the pyramidal roof structure is similar and is also covered with plain tiles.

            In its situation and appearance this mosque is the defining feature of the main square in Velika Kladuša, and forms a major element in the structure of the town.

            The Čaršija mosque is rectangular in ground plan, and measures 16.25 x 9.30 metres, including the sofas.  Without the sofas it is 14.20 metres in length.  The interior width of the sofas is 1.90 metres.  The roof of the sofas is separate from that of the central part of the building, and is supported by six wooden pillars, of which four are at the front, measuring 16 x 16 cm.  The pillars are linked by arches.  The space between the pillars was filled in with latticwork screens (mušebak).

            The minaret is hexagonal in ground plan and entirely built of cut limestone blocks, held together with iron clamps and pointed with molten lead.  The horizontal and vertical joints are very pronounced, as a result of the use of cement during one of the many interventions on the building.  The minaret is 1.15 metres wide at a height of 50cm from ground level.  The part of the mosque from ground level to beneath the šerefe or balcony narrows gradually and ends in a moulded cornice.  The shaft of the mosque also ends in a cornice, larger and more complex than that below the balcony.  The minaret has a pyramidal sheet metal roof topped by an alem with three pommels and a leaf on top. 

            The structural walls of the Town mosque in Velika Kladuša are of brick and the roof structure is wooden, with a pyramidal roof covered with plain tiles.

            The arrangement of the windows on the building is perfectly symmetrical, and the size of each (60cm) and the intervals between them (2.80 m.) are identical on all sides of the building.    The north-east facade has four rectangular windows and the south-west has three, with two each on the entrance and the mihrab walls.  The proportions of the windows clearly indicate the date of origin of the mosque.  There was a similar example in the Hadži Ali-beg Lafo mosque in Mostar before it was demolished, where the windows acquired the same form and proportions, following alterations during the Austro-Hungarian period, as those of the Velika Kladuša mosque.       The windows are deeply set back into the wall and emphasized on either side by pilasters with a stylized pointed arch forming the top of the windows.  All these decorative elements are executed in plaster, as are other decorations such as that on the cornice of the building and the alternately recessed quoins.

            The lower part of the facade is embellished with geometrical ornaments – spiral motifs 10 cm wide, extending along the entire facade other than the entrance area with the porch, and following the rhythm of the windows.  These ornaments, like the other decorative elements in the mosque, are painted in a different colour from the body of the mosque.   During the course of the investigations prior to adopting a decision to designate the building as a national monument, on the basis of test soundings on the facade, it was ascertained that the moulded parts of the facade had been terracotta-coloured, which is wholly consistent with the manner of buildings dating from the same period as the Velika Kladuša mosque.  The development of the pseudo-Moorish style of architecture, which is evident in very reductive form in this mosque, was based on the use of the structures and architectural language present in Islamic architecture in northern Africa.  Given that brick, or more accurately adobe, is often used as a building material, this material was suggested in the case of architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the use of colour, with alternate bands of different colour suggesting the alternate use of stone and brick in the architecture that was the model for the development of this historical manner. 

            This is visible to this day on the mosque in Velika Kladuša, too.  The entire façade of the mosque is divided up by shallow horizontal lines drawn in lime-cement mortar, while the main cornice is embellished by a simple frieze projecting from the flat surface of the facade at the top by some 10 cm.  Below the upper cornice is a decoration in the plaster representing the stylized ribbed finishings to mosques such as are to be seen in Egypt and North Africa, typical of the early twentieth century Austro-Hungarian buildings in this region.  The mosque had a decorative portal with eight-pointed star motifs, removed after the 1992-1995 war.

            According to information in the works consulted and referred to in works dealing with historical data the mosque interior was embellished with levhas or calligraphic inscriptions with Qur'anic verses.

            Around the mosque graveyard there was a metal fence, and within the graveyard were 19 headstone nišans, that were set there while the deceased were buried elsewhere.  In the Krajina these are known as Nišane krajputaši, and are by no means rare, particularly in the Velika Kladuša area.  These monuments were usually erected alongside mainroads, as their Bosnian name indicates.  Several groups have survived alongside the Cazin to Velika Kladuša road, the largest of which is in Mala Kladuša, belonging to the Kajtazović family.  The headstones from the         Town mosque graveyard date from later than the building itself.

            The entrance to the harem is through a portal with an arched opening and metal gate.


4. Current state of the site

            The use of modern materials is visible on all the facades, where instead of the original plaster layer, mortar with added cement and pigment on a polymer base has been used.  The choice of colours on the facade also reflects the superficial and unscientific approach to the issue, which is typical of the restoration works of the 1970s and 1980s in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in the case of religious buildings of the Austro-Hungarian period

In order to increase the size of the prayer space and because of the need to perform abdest (ablutions), the latticework has been removed from the north-west entrance area and the sofas glassed in with white plastic window frames.  To the left of the sofas is the entrance to the women's mahvil or gallery, and to the right is a new abdesthana (premises for ablutions).

Following the 1992-1995 war the krajputaši headstones were moved from their original positions to the south-east of the plot to make room for the new abdesthana.  This new building was begun in the south-west part of the plot and measures 4.70 x 7.00 metres.

            To the left of the mosque courtyard, seen from the main entrance to the building, a marble monument to the fallen soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was erected in 2002.

            There is a risk that, if works continue without design projects and the supervision of the heritage protection authority, the building will lose its authenticity.  If the abdesthana is built, its height and appearance will markedly endanger the town mosque and detract from its townscape value.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, adopted at the fourth session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (3 to 9 September 2002), relating to the immovable and movable heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A. Time frame

B. Historic value

D. Clarity

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

E. Symbolic value

E. ii. religious value

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

F. Townscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii.materials and content

G.iii.use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and ownership certificate;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings

-         Town planning document of Velika Kladuša Municipality, 1986-2005



            During the proceedings of designating the historic monument of the town mosque in Velika Kladuša a national monument, the following works were consulted:


Hilić, Hasan ef., Džamije u Velikoj Kladuši (Mosques in Velika Kladuša) Velika Kladuša, 1970


Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika u BiH (Islamic epigraphy in  BiH),  Vol. IV,                               Sarajevo Publishing 1998.


Bečirbegović, Madžida,  Džamije sa drvenom munarom u Bosni i Hercegovini, (Mosques with wooden minarets in Bosnia and Herzegovina) Sarajevo, 1999



Town mosque in Velika KladušaTown mosque Graveyard and south part of the mosqueNorth-east facade
Entrance facadeSouth-east facadeTown mosque, an old photo 

BiH jezici 
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