Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Trzan necropolis with stećaks and turbes in Večići,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 1 to 7 July 2003 the Commission adopted a



The architectural ensemble of the Trzan necropolis with stećaks and turbes in Večići, Kotor Varoš is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot nos. 21, 84, 98/3, 100, 104/2, 105/2, 849, 857, 870, 877/1, 877/2, cadastral municipality Večići, Municipality Kotor Varoš, Republika Srpska, 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.


The Government of Republika Srpska 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 Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation 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 the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.


For the purpose of securing the lasting preservation of the national monument the following protection zones are hereby defined:

Protection Zone I comprises c.p. nos. 21, 84, 98/3, 100, 104/2, 105/2, 849, 857, 870, 877/1, 877/2. Within this zone the following measures shall apply:   

·          all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works carried out to a design project approved by the Ministry of Republika Srpska responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska,

·          the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited

·          agricultural works are prohibited

·          works of any kind to the infrastructure are prohibited unless, in exceptional cases, with the approval of the Ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority,

·          the construction of buildings or facilities the operations of which could be detrimental to the National Monument is prohibited.

Protection Zone II consists of an area with a radius of 100 metres from Protection Zone I.  Within this zone the following measures shall apply:

·          the only construction permitted is of residential buildings with a maximum height of 6.50 m. to the base of the roof structure, i.e. ground floor and one upper floor, and maximum dimensions of 10 x 12 metres;

·          the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited

·          the construction of industrial buildings and facilities is prohibited

·          the siting of any potential environment polluters in the zone is prohibited

·          the construction of plant for the exploitation of natural resources is prohibited.


The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible in particular for ensuring that a study for the preservation of the Trzan necropolis with stećaks and a study for the preservation and display of the turbes in Večići are drawn up.


            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 Republika Srpska, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.


            The Government of Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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-V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.


The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 


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


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

            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: 08/2-6-555/03-1

2 July 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 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.

The Majlis of the Islamic Community of  Banja Luka submitted a petition on 9 July 2002 to proclaim the property a national monument. 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:

·          Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (proof of title , Kotor Varoš Municipality, with copy of cadastral plan)

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

·          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 site are as follows:

1. Details of the site


Večići is about 10 km south-east of Kotor-Varoš, on the south-eastern edge of Veliko polje, the plain extending between Osmača and Čemernica to the west and Uzlomac and Borja to the east.  Part of the course of the river Vrbanja crosses this plain.  Its position has always made Veliko polje favourable for communications between Banja Luka and Doboj.

The necropolis with stećaks is on Trzan hill, also known as Crkvište.  There are three turbes in all.  The first is on Trzan hill itself, to the south of the necropolis with stećaks, 17.70 m. from the southernmost stećak.  The second turbe is to the east of the first, alongside the river Cvrčka, some 150 m. as the crow flies, while the third is in the centre of the village of Večići, on a plot known as Pojputje, on private land belonging to Nuhanović Smail, in Večići, Kotor Varoš Municipality, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Historical information

In the same area between Kotor-Varoš and Večići is the mediaeval fort of Kotor, a little way back in the hills close to the Vrbanja valley and the road.  Given its position relatively close to the mediaeval fort of Kotor and a large necropolis with stećaks in this area, as well as the toponymy and later religious buildings dating from the Ottoman period, the settlement in Večići stands out as an old mediaeval settlement and an ancient religious site.  Data assembled in the 1960s and 1970s refer to 80 stećaks[1] in Glavica, Trzan in Večići (Bešlagić, 1971, 108).   On the occasion of the latest on-site visit, 54 stećaks were noted, but it is possible that there are a few more in the surrounding much overgrown hedges.  This is the only major necropolis recorded in Kotor-Varoš municipality.

The toponymy and location of the entire complex is interesting.  At the top, on the plateau known as Glavice, are three turbes and a newly-built mosque.  To the north of these is a slope with stećaks scattered over it.  The entire site is known as Trzan, and one of the plots is called Crkvina.  The complex ends at the northern base of the slope with a mezar (tomb).

The toponym Trzan (Trzna) is of old Slav origin.  Ethnologists and historians have established that it usually referred to common land within or alongside a settlement (village).  It was usually grassed over, and the word means a greensward or land lying fallow.  Trzna meant the place where the social and political life of the local population took place; it was the equivalent of a market square in a varoš (small town).  It was common in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a necropolis with stećaks or a burial ground with nišans (headstones) to be located very close to a Trzna, and for the toponym also to be linked in Bosnia with the cult of the dead (Skarić, 1928, 127; Filipović, 1965, 178-180; Hadžijahić, 1973, 294). The toponym Crkvina is connected with places where there was formerly a church or burial ground dating from the antique or mediaeval period.  Clearly  Večići had always been a «sacred place».

It is not known when the turbes in Večići were erected.  There is a surviving folk tradition according to which they belonged to three brothers who fought in the imperial Ottoman army and were killed in battle at Kotor Varoš in the sixteenth century.  Folk tradition recounts that those who are laid to rest in turbes are the good[2].  They were probably dervishes, given a frequent tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina (like the one about the shahid) buried in a turbe close to Vranduk, or in Ključ – carried their heads under their arms after they were killed, and that they were buried where they fell and turbes erected in their memory.

Legal status to date

            The site of the            necropolis with stećaks and turbes in Večići has not previously been under protection or registered as a cultural monument.

2. Description of the monument

Necropolis with stećaks

The stečaks (pl. stećci) are scattered over an area 240 m in length from the main turbe down towards the valley, from south to north.  To the south are two separate smaller stećak groups, with the majority of them lying on the plateau at the northern end of the site.  About 18 m north of turbe no. 1 is a group of six stećaks (see Annex nos. 1-6, for the turbes).  Some tweny metres to the north is another smaller group of stečaks (Annex nos. 7-13).  The site is bisected by an access road to the house between plots 857 and 861.  The main necropolis lies to the north of the house and the road on a relatively level terrace (Annex nos. 14-52).

The orientation of the stećaks is adapted to the terrain.  On the slopes they basically lie south-north, and on the plateau, west-east.  They are set in rows, but it may be deduced from the arrangement of several smaller separate groups that these graves were probably arranged in family groups within a clan or village community, depending on whom the graveyard belonged to.  There is no historical data on this.  The stećaks are mainly low chest types or slab types, of varying sizes, with low chests the most common, measuring 1.5 (1.2) x 0.9 (0.5) m.  On many of the tombstones the upper surface has been left undressed and has been smoothed only by weathering.  The vertical sides are partly dressed.  Most of them are amorphous, giving the impression that natural pieces of stone had been set as tombstones.  The occasional longer and broader chest, measuring 2 (1.7) x 1.15 (1) m, stands out in size, but not in workmanship.  Many of the tombstones have sunk into the ground and have become mossed over.  There are no decorative carvings or inscriptions.


According to M. Mujezinović, there was one wooden turbe with three wooden tombs in Večići, in which, according to tradition, «three brothers were buried who went out one after the other and were all killed» (Mujezinović, 1998, 33).   An on-site inspection, however, ascertained that there are a total of three turbes lying in an almost straight line.

The turbes have been damaged or destroyed several times over the years, but the local inhabitants of  Večići have always repaired or restored them.  During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina they were completely destroyed, and in 1998/99 they were repaired by the local inhabitants.  Prior to that they had been restored in the 1950s, when the roof overlay of tiles was replaced with sheet metal.  This meant that they lost their authentic appearance.  At this time, too, the building material originally used was replaced, with standard baked bricks set in cement mortar used instead of unbaked brick.

            All three turbes are very similar in appearance, square single-storey structures with hipped roofs.  The turbe in Trzan differs somewhat from the other two, having a small porch in front with a width of 1.20 m.  The roof structure rests on three round concrete pillars.  The dimensions of the turbes are similar, 5.50 x 5.30 m.  The walls are 27 to 30 cm thick.

The entrances to the turbes are to the north. Inside each has one tomb, wooden in the first turbe, whereas in the other two the burial place is marked by a white stone edging 12 cm thick.  In this case the head end is somewhat higher and broader with a place for lighting candles. The length of the tombs is 2.98 m and the width 1.04 m.

3.   Research and conservation and restoration works

            In about 1950 the turbes were renovated, and the tile roof cladding was replaced with sheet metal.  This was done by the local community.

            In 1998/99 the local community restored the turbes destroyed in the 1992-1995 war, without a design project approved by the relevant institution or the supervision of the heritage protection authority.  New building materials were used, the walls were made of standard baked brick set in cement mortar.

            In June 2003 the team of experts consisting of members of the Secretariat of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of BiH conducted a technical and photographic survey of the site on the basis of which a sketch plan was made showing the arrangement of the tombstones (Annex).           

4. Current condition of the site

The turbes in Večići are in good structural condition.  They have lost their authentic appearance as a result of numerous interventions, the latest of which was in 1998/99, but this is not true of the interior – the position and appearance of the tomb beneath which shahids are buried.


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), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical changes

E. Symbolic value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

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

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

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

H. Rarity and representativity

H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style

            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan

-          Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-          Photodocumentation;

-          Drawings


During the procedure to proclaim the architectural ensemble of the Trzan  necropolis with stećaks and turbes in Večići a national monument, the following works were consulted:

Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled. (Stećci, a catalogue and topographical overview) Collection “Cultural Heritage of BiH”. Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1971.

Filipović, Milenko, Tragovi staroslovenske (staroruske) trizne kod Južnih Slovena. (Traces of old Slav (old Russian) trzna among the southern Slavs) Papers of the Scientific Association of BiH vol. XXVI,Sarajevo 1965

Hadžijahić, Muhamed, Prilog Skarićevoj hipotezi o porijeklu stećaka. (Contribution to Skarić’s hypothesis on the origin of stečci) Papers of the Museum of the City of Zenica III, Zenica, 1973, 287-296.

Kovačić, S. Anto, Katolici u Kotorvaroškom kraju (Catholics in the Kotorvaroš region), Sarajevo, 1989

Monograph, Kotor Varoš  i Skender Vakuf u NOB-u 1941. – 45., (KV and SV in the National Liberation War 1941-45) Kotor Varoš 1985.

Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika Bosne i Hercegovine (Islamic epigraphics of BiH), Bk III, Sarajevo Publishing, 1998

Pavo, Srednjovjekovna župa Popovo. (the mediaeval parish of Popovo) Tribunija 7, Regional Museum Trebinje, Trebinje, 1983, 61-79

Skarić, Vladimir, Trzan. Journal of the National Museum of BiH, no XL, Sarajevo 1928, 127-133.




[1] The word «the good» in Muslim Bosnian tradition is used to designate saintly people with special knowledge.

Panorama of TrzanTurbes in VečićiTurbe 1Turbe 1 - Interior
Turbe 2Turbe 3Turbe 3 - InteriorGroup of stećak tombstones

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