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
D E C I S I O N
The site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Atik mosque (Old mosque, Sultan Sulayman’s mosque) with harem and turbe in Bijeljina are hereby designated as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).
The National Monument stands on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 3247, cadastral municipality Bijeljina II, land registry entry no. 3708, Bijeljina Municipality, 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, including the protection of fragments of the destroyed 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 of Bosnia and Herzegovina (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 Republika Srpska shall be responsible in particular for enforcing the following measures:
Ÿ the building of the Atik mosque (Old mosque, Sultan Sulayman’s mosque) with harem and turbe in Bijeljina shall be rehabilitated on its original site. During rehabilitation, its original proportions and original appearance shall be retained, with identical horizontal and vertical dimensions, as far as possible, on the basis of documentation on its original form, which constitutes an integral part of this decision, with the possibility of using new materials;
Ÿ all parts and fragments found on the site of the Atik mosque during archaeological works conducted in March 2003, including sizeable parts of the walls and other parts of the mosque, shall be recorded, studied, conserved, and appropriately displayed in the Museum of Bijeljina Town or in the architectural ensemble of the Atik mosque;
Ÿ a pent-roofed or small building may be interpolated for the purpose of presentation of the fragments of the mosque and archaeological finds from the site of the Atik mosque, and for the purpose of presentation of the complexity of the architectural ensemble. The height of the ridge of the interpolated structure may not exceed a maximum of 3.60 m. The form and dimensions of the structure must be appropriate to the architecture of the mosque building;
Ÿ all fragments of the mosque and old foundations (with symbolic images and inscriptions) shall be treated as movable cultural heritage within the context of the architectural ensemble.
The Government of Republika Srpska shall ensure that the appropriate technical conditions for the preservation of the movable cultural items referred to in Clause I of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) are provided and shall supervise their preservation.
The display and other forms of presentation of the said items in Bosnia and Herzegovina shall be carried out on the basis of the terms and conditions stipulated by the ministry responsible for culture of Republika Srpska.
The removal of the movable items from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.
By way of exception to the provisions of para. 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal of the movable items from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the purpose of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Permission for the temporary removal of the movable items from Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 items in any way.
In granting permission for the temporary removal of the items, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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 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 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 to VI 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 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
6 May 2003.
E l u c i d a t i o n
I – INTRODUCTION
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.
On 25 December 2002 the Commission received a petition from the Majlis (council) of the Islamic Community of Bijeljina, Republika Srpska, for the Atik mosque, and on 18 March 2003 it received a petition from the local ward of Stari grad (old town) and Centar municipality Bijeljina for the archaeological site on the foundations of the Atik Mosque in Bijeljina.
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.
II – PROCEDURE PRIOR TO DECISION
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.
The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:
1. Details of the site
The Atik Mosque (Old mosque, Imperial mosque, or mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Law-giver) with harem and turbe in Bijeljina stood in the centre of the Bijeljina čaršija. It was built on the site designated as c.p. 3247, c.m. Bijeljina II, land registry entry no. 3708, and was owned by the Majlis of the Islamic Community in Bijeljina, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The earliest reference to Bijeljina, which is in the centre of Semberija, dates from 1446. From 1634 it was the seat of a kadiluk. The Atik mosque was the oldest mosque in Bijeljina. The name means the old mosque, and it is also known to the local people as the Imperial mosque. In documentary sources the name of the then ruler, Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, also known as the Law-giver, is also referred to. The mosque was built between 1520 and 1566. Close to the mosque a hammam was built, and around the mosque and hammam was a fosse with palisades from which the Čaršija could be defended in case of need. The mosque was surrounded by a spacious burial ground in which prominent inhabitants of Bijeljina were buried. During the Turkish-Austrian war of 1716-1718 the people of Bijeljina, having no fortress, used the mosque as a defensive bastion. The Austrians occupied Bijeljina and remained there until the signing of the Treaty of Belgrade in 1739. According to some sources, the mosque and hammam were badly damaged at this time. Immediately after the fall of Bijeljina the Atik mosque was turned into a Catholic church, a function it served from 1718 to 1739. It is possible that at that time the square ground plan of the mosque was extended to the north-east. With the Treaty of Belgrade, Bijeljina again came under Ottoman rule. The mosque was restored to its original purpose and a wooden minaret was erected. In 1893 a new minaret was built, which was increased in height by a further 10 m. in 1912, with the addition of another šerefe (gallery). At the entrance to the mosque was an inscription relating its renovation in 1893. On a stone plaque above the entrance door the following text was written in bold naskh script: “This noble mosque of Sultan Suleyman was renovated in 1311.”
The old burial ground alongside the Atik mosque survived right up to the start of World War II, but when the authorities prohibited further burials alongside the mosque, some of the nišan tombstones were transferred to the outskirts of town and some were buried. New buildings were erected over much of the area of the burial ground after World War II. Many of the nišans bore inscriptions, which were unfortunately destroyed or buried when the site of the mosque harem was levelled just before the start of World War II. Only a few survived, to the south of the mosque.
Not far from the Atik mosque in the old Bijeljina čaršija was the turbe of binbaša Sadikbeg. There are two tales told about him. The first recounts that Sadikbeg was killed somewhere on the Sava as a Turkish officer fighting to prevent Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Austrian arm from invading Bosnia, and was brought from there to Bijeljina, where he was buried in 1171. The second version is that after the ravages wrought by the Austrians he did much to repair and restore the town of Bijeljina and it was for this reason that a turbe was erected for him. Until 1826 the turbe was fenced off only by a wooden fence, which was then replaced by a brick wall. In 1968, since the regulatory plan provided for it to be pulled down, the turbe was relocated to close by the Atik mosque, 10 m. north-east of the minaret.
The Atik mosque and turbe were totally destroyed on 13 March 1993. All the material was removed from the site of the mosque complex. At the request of the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Bijeljina, the Bijeljina municipal authorities responsible for town planning matters granted permission to reconstruct the mosque complex. The project documentation was drawn up by the building company “Rad” A.D. Bijeljina, and the project manager is Izić Mirsad, graduate architect.
During the course of building works to dig out the foundations of the new mosque, the remains of the foundations of an old building were found. Works on the new building were suspended, and a team was put together to investigate the site of the Atik mosque, consisting of Mirko Babić MSc, Dr. Aleksandar Ratković, Milan Đurđević MSc, Lidija Fekeža MSc, and Mirsad Sijarić. The consultants were Prof. Dr. Enver Imamović and Prof. Dr. Đorđe Janković. The necessary on-site investigations were carried out within 15 days, and were completed on 17 March 2003. The record drawn up by the archaeological team noted that no foundations of another building were found on the site of the Atik mosque. The final report on the archaeological works is being drawn up and will include a detailed description of the findings.
2. Description of the monument
The Atik mosque was one of the finer single-space mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its internal dimensions were 11.5 x 21.5 m, with walls 1.0 m. thick. The height of the building to the eaves was 7.55 m., and of the minaret was 30.50 m. It belonged to the type of single-space mosque with hipped roof. It had two rows of windows and was built partly of sandstone blocks, partly of unbaked brick, and partly of baked brick. The minaret was entirely built of masonry brick. The façade of the mosque was plastered. The hipped roof had a classic roof structure of the double hanging truss type, clad with tiles. The ground plan was of a single prayer space with mahfil gallery, very common among single-space mosques with hipped roof. The ceiling, made as a wooden vault, was set north-west/south-east, similar to the treatment of the Magribija mosque in Sarajevo.
The mosque was a central structure with a very spacious prayer area. The sofas were set beneath a single roof which also covered the central part of the mosque. The differing historical strata are visible in the ground-plan of the mosque. The original square mosque probably had open sofas with wooden pillars. It was probably when the mosque was turned into a church that the sofas were enclosed to create a single space. The front wall that enclosed the sofas survived until the mosque was destroyed in 1993. The entrance was to the north-west. The mahfil was reached from the entrance area of the sofas, via a spiral wooden staircase set on the inside of the north-west wall to the right of the entrance door. On the same side, beneath the mahfil, was the door to the minaret, which stood to the south-west of the building. It was octagonal at the base, with the transition to a circular cross-section effected above the second šerefe. It was topped by an alem (finial). It had two šerefes; the Atik mosque was the first mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina to have a minaret of this type. A spiral wooden staircase ran up the centre of the minaret leading to the šerefes. In the axis of the mosque that passed through the mihrab, the mahfil had a semicircular projection for the muezzin.
In the interior was a mihrab on the south-east and a mimber on the south-west side of the mosque. The mihrab was of sandstone and the mimber was of wood.
On the façades the windows were set in two rows; three each on the north-east façade, two each on the south-west wall, two upper and two lower windows in the mihrab wall, and three upper windows on the entrance façade with two windows and the entrance door below. The windows were rectangular in shape.
3. Research and conservation and restoration works
The Atik mosque was badly damaged in 1716. In 1718 the Austrians turned it into a church.
In 1758/59 the building was restored to its original purpose and a wooden minaret was built.
The next alterations were in 1893/94 when a brick minaret with one šerefe was built; in 1912 the minaret was added to, gaining a second šerefe.
In 1962 the Atik mosque underwent repairs once again. The works carried out on this occasion were mainly repairs to the façade, in the form of plastering and painting.
The most recent archaeological investigation works were carried out in March 2003. This is their report:
“The stone blocks were mostly sawn from soft, probably majevica sandstone. The marks of the use of a stone-cutting saw can be seen on many of the blocks. Two large blocks, in fact large stećci, were of hard red limestone originating from the Zvornik area. Most of the soft sandstone blocks were more or less carefully sawn into cubes and cuboids of various sizes. Some blocks were in the form of a stećak, or in the shape of monuments similar in form to a stećak, some of which were decorated with various motifs (spirals, stylized human figures). Some of the stećci also bore the motif of a sword. Inscriptions in Cyrillic script were identified on 17 whole and broken pieces. Part of the stone excavated had already been taken to the nearby gravel pit, part still remained on the site when the archaeological works began, and a very small part of the stone foundations remained unexcavated on the site.
“The area of the foundations and within the mosque foundations was excavated. The surviving walls were cleared at the same time. Alongside the walls of the mosque and in the immediate vicinity, Ottoman period burials were identified while excavating on the outside. Some of the graves had railings, while others only had nišan tombstones, intact or shattered by the effects of time. All the nišans and parts thereof were of green tufa, some with turban and fez made of another type of stone. The date of the nišans remains to be investigated on the basis of analogy. When clearing the walls and among the stone from the foundations in the gravel pit, which was thoroughly examined, the remains of painted wall surfaces were found. Milica Kosor, conservator of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of RS, was on site and gave a report on the findings. So far neither the style nor the date of these painted elements has been ascertained, but merely that the motifs were floral.”
4. Current condition of the site
The Atik mosque was completely destroyed on 13 March 1993, and all the remains were removed from the site to an unknown destination. During archaeological investigations in March 2003, the archaeologists came upon the foundations of the old mosque, made of stone blocks of varying sizes, some with inscriptions. Most of the stone blocks discovered were taken to the Bijeljina Town Museum where further investigations are under way.
III – CONCLUSION
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
E. Symbolic value
E.ii. religious value
E.iii. traditional value
F. Townscape/ Landscape value
F.ii. meaning in the townscape
F.iii. the building or group of buildings is part of group or site
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 proof of title;
Kreševljaković, H. “Stari gradovi” (Old Towns) Naše starine I, 14., 1953
Mujezinović Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika u BiH (Islamic Epigraphics in BiH) vol II, Sarajevo , 1998, 156.