Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Ozren monastery with frescoes, 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 on 25 February 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The architectural ensemble of Ozren monastery with frescoes in Petrovo is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument consists of the architectural ensemble of Ozren monastery with frescoes together with its movable property, comprising royal doors, marble iconostasis, three bells and the following icons: 1. Mother of God Odigitrija, 2. Mother of God Odigitrija, 3. St John the Baptist, 4. St. Triphon, 5. panel with representation of the lives of Christ and the Mother of God, 6. Jesus Christ, 7. St. Nicholas, 8. Kazan Mother of God, 9. Crucifixion of Christ, 10. Iverska Mother of God, 11. Pieta, 12. Mother of God, 13. Ascension of Christ, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The site is located on cadastral plot 3343, cadastral municipality Petrovo, Petrovo (previously Bosansko Petrovo Selo), 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 the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02 and 8/02) shall apply to the National Monument specified in the preceding paragraph.




            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 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.




            For the purpose of the long-term preservation of the property, the following shall be defined:

            Protection Zone I, comprising cadastral plot no. 3343, on which stands the monastery church of St Nicholas and extending over a radius of 500 metres from the centre of the building.  Within this zone the following measures shall apply:

-          all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works carried out with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and under the expert supervision of the Republika Srpska heritage protection authority (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

-          the construction of residential or business premises is prohibited,

-          the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited,

-          timber exploitation is prohibited.

            Protection Zone II covers a zone with a radius of 1500 metres from the centre of the building.  Within this zone the following measures shall apply:

-          the construction of plant or facilities for industrial production and timber processing is prohibited,

-          all natural features damaged by the extraction of mineral ores shall be recultivated,

-          the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited,

-          the exploitation of timber is prohibited with the exception of felling for remedial reasons.

            The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for drawing up a Survey for the protection of the paintings of St Nicholas’ Church, with the proposed measures for carrying out rehabilitation works thereon:

-          analysis of the quality of the material on which the frescoes are painted,

-          analysis of the quality of the plaster,

-          identification of the method of fixing the frescoed plaster to the supporting wall,

-          cleaning deposits from the frescoes.




            The removal of the movable items listed in clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable items) is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of the above paragraph, the movable items may be temporarily removed from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the purpose of display or conservation if it is determined beyond doubt that such 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 terms set out in the preceding paragraph shall be granted by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments if it is ascertained beyond doubt that this will not in any way endanger the movable items or the national monument.  In its ruling approving the temporary removal of the items the Commission shall set out all the conditions under which this may be effected, the deadline for the return of the movable items tol Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibilities of the relevant authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of Republika Srpska, 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, urban and municipal services, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the protection and rehabilitation thereof.




            This Decision shall be lodged with the Government of Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning and the Ministry responsible for culture in Republika Srpska, the heritage protection authority, and the municipal administration authorities responsible for urban planning and land registry issues, for the purpose of implementation of the measures set forth in Clauses II to V of this Decision, and to the competent municipal court for entry 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 to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 to Preserve National Monuments: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.


No.: 08.2-6-153/03-2

4 March 2003



Chairman of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


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 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 meeting held in Sarajevo on 30 June 1998 the Commission issued a Decision to place the architectural complex of the Monastery of St Nicholas on the Provisional List of National Monuments as number 259.

            Pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument.



            In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was reviewed:

-         the current state and use of the property, including description and photographs, details of damage if any,

-         data on restoration or other works carried out on the property, if any,

-         copy of land register entry and details of ownership,

-         historical, architectural and other documentary matter on the property, given in the list of documentation consulted as part of this Decision,

-         fresco paintings in the church of St Nicholas and the collection of icons from the church,

-         description of the property of the church of St. Nicholas in Ozren in individual monographs.


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


1. Details of the site


            Ozren monastery is in north-eastern Bosnia, half way between Tuzla and Doboj, 6 km. from Petrovo (formerly Bosanski Petrovo Selo), the seat of the municipality. It stands on cadastral plot no. 3343 and is owned by the Serbian Orthodox Church, entity of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical data

            Ozren monastery is the centre of the religious life of the Orthodox Serbs of the area of Ozren mountain and the central course of the river Spreče.

            There are few details of the founding of Ozren monastery and the date of construction of the monastery church. The first reliable source directly relating to the Ozren church is an inscription in the nave, engraved above the entrance door, which states that in 1587 priest Jakov Marić laid the floor of the church (LJ. Stojanović, p. 793; Z. Kajmaković, p. 232, illus. 173). This inscription suggests that the church was built in the second half of the fifteenth century, somewhat earlier than the date of the inscription itself.

            According to Dr. Dušan Kašić, the monastery church was built in the sixteenth century; he gives the date of 1557, when Makarije Sokolović became Serbian Patriarch in Peć and regularized the state of affairs in the Serbian church. It was at this time that the renovation began of churches and monasteries that had been neglected up to then. There is reference to this by the Tronoški Chronicle, which recounts that Patriarch Makarije «ot brata svojego, velikago vezira turskago carskim atišerifom vsa manastiri i cerkvi ponovil» (Glasnik SUD 5, 1867; M. Mirković, 1965, 88).

            Taking advantage of a change in Turkish policy, the rapid renovation of and additions to old churches began, as well as the erection of new ones. «The Ozren monastery church, like every other church built during the time of Makarije and later in Bosnia and Herzegovina, belongs to the group of provincial churches of simplified type. Although these churches were built with modest funds and usually at great speed, so as to take advantage of the favourable political conditions of the day, in their architectural details they often present very interesting features, from which it may readily be concluded that their builders were good craftsmen, experienced in the building of religious edifices, and that they had inherited their skills from their forebears whose works were to be found throughout the territory of the Nemanja state.» (Đ. Mazalić, 1951, p.101).    

            A folk tradition that took final shape in the eighteenth century and was later recorded in writing firmly states that Ozren monastery was a Nemanjić foundation, founded by Serbia's King Dragutin at the time when, as «King of Srem» (1284-1321) he ruled these parts – Usora and Soli (D. Kašić, p. 6). There is no evidence of greater reliability than this concerning the earlier origins of the monastery, its founding and the date the monastery church was built.

            The first dependable source directly relating to Ozren church is the inscription in the nave carved above the entrance door.


            The inscription includes the information that various works were carried out on the church.  When the church, which from its architectural features appears to date from the sixteenth century, was actually built is not known.

            In the early decades of the seventeenth century the monastery church at Ozren was painted with frescoes.  The year in which the artist and his associates worked was the year 7114 from the creation of the world, 5508 years before the birth of Christ, which places the date somewhere between 1 September 1605 and 31 August 1606 (Z. Kajmaković, 1971, pp. 351-357).  Priest Strahinja, who was commissioned by Prior Joakim, did not fresco the entire church, but only the nave and altar, while the parvis remained unpainted.  At some point between 1 September 1608 and 31 August 1609 another artist painted the parvis of the Ozren monastery church, as noted by an inscription in the church. Here vital evidence lies in the founder's composition of Prior Joakim, in which Joakim is holding a scroll in his right hand from which the text has been erased, and gesturing with his left towards St. Nicholas, making him a gift of the frescoes and of all the pains he has personally taken in honour of St. Nicholas.

            Information concerning the life of Ozren monastery in the seventeenth century, up to the time of the great Austro-Turkish war (1683-1699) is meagre in the extreme. For all that, details of the extent of the works on the church, particularly roofing and painting, suggest that the monastery community was large and well-to-do. There remains to this day a tradition that there were many monks in the monastery and that they had a fine estate with much livestock. The monastery vineyard of 60 dunums lies on one of the slopes above the monastery (D. Kašić, p. 25).

            After the Austro-Turkish war and the retreat of the Austrian army, alongside which the majority of the Serb population and their spiritual leaders (priestly and monastic) had fought, Ozren monastery deteriorated, like the majority of other monasteries (Papraća, Liplje, Stuplje and others), but its church was not pulled down.  The monastery was neglected for a long period, and only minor works are recorded, such as repairs to the roof.

            On receipt of a permit from the relevant Turkish authorities, in 1842 the monastery church was renovated under the leadership of head-priest Marko Marjanović, about whom a written report survives in a Floral Triodion or Pentecostarion (Moscow, 1837), which is now located in the monastery, while three decades later a tall bell-tower was built outside the church.

            During the course of these renovations the church was re-roofed, as noted by an inscription on the old stone cross of the cupola and another above the window in the south façade of the monastery church.  In 1849 the "Kaluđerica" or monks’ fountain was made at the top of the monastery meadow. A little further from the fountain was a row of wooden huts “up to 80 in number, in which people shelter from the rain, snow and rough weather, when they come to worship in the church” (Đ. Petrović, Kratki opis manastira Ozrena, p. 75) Later the number was increased, but they were all pulled down on the orders of Prior Danilo Bilbija (1923-1930).

            In 1920 a road was cut from Bosanski Petrovo Selo to the monastery, the roof of the church was covered with copper, the Kaluđerica monastery fountain was restored to working order, and a children’s convalescent home was founded (D. Kašić, p. 46). During World War II the monastery was looted.

            Recently identified differences in the techniques of fresco plastering in various parts of the nave could be of importance for determining with accuracy the date when Ozren monastery was built. The structure of the plaster and pigment layer of the skirting in the nave indicates that they were not the work of the same master craftsman as the one who painted the frescoes on the upper parts of the walls. These observations on the different structures of the plaster lead one to suspect that there were frescoes older than those done by priest Strahinja in 1605-1606 (Ševo, pp.102-103).


Legal status to date

            By ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no. 192/51 the building was accorded protected status as a cultural monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            By ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the People's  Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. 02/777-3 dated 18 April 1962 the building was entered in the register of immovable cultural monuments.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the Ozren monastery as a category I building.


2. Description of the monument


            The monastery church of Ozren is wholly in the tradition of mediaeval ecclesiastical architecture of the thirteenth century, and of the centuries old tradition of the people of Ozren. 

            The monastery church dates from a single period. The ground plan is of a single nave with rectangular lateral choirs abutting on to the nave, an apse that is semi-circular within and five-sided externally, and a rectangular narthex (parvis), narrower than the nave, which is barrel-vaulted. There is a dome over the central area of the nave, supported by free-standing pillars. The drum of the dome is circular on the inside and octagonal on the outside.  Inside, the drum rests on pendentives, while from the outside it merges into the cubic pedestal of the dome.

            The side choirs are longitudinally barrel-vaulted and, like the barrel-vaulted east and west transepts with round arches on columns, they support the dome. The apse is hemispherically vaulted.  There are eight identical tall arched windows in the drum of the dome.

            The single-nave ground plan with semicircular apse and rectangular lateral choirs abutting onto the nave, as well as the upper structure with the dome resting on a system of vaults and arches over the choirs and the east and west transepts, and the transition from the square base composed by the free-standing pillars to the circular drum by means of pendentives, are all typical of the so-callled Raška stylistic group of Serbian mediaeval sacral architecture.  Typical of this is the square base (tambour carree) on which the drum of the dome rests on the exterior.  The most typical examples of the Raška school – the Church of Our Lady in Studenica, Žiča, Morača, Mileševa, Sopoćani, Gradac – were built as endowments of the Serbian kings in the thirteenth century.  During the Ottoman period, particularly following the restoration of the Peć patriarchate in 1557 and right through to the 1690s, a comparatively large number of the Orthodox churches that were rebuilt in the patriarchate were built in the Raška style, as is visible from their ground plan, their elevation and the decoration on the façade – the church of Liplje monastery, Tavna, Vozuća,Tronoša, the Holy Trinity in Ovčar, Rača near Bajina Bašta, and many others.

            The decoration of the facade of Ozren monastery church, with stepped moulding on the stone doorframe and window frames and friezes of arcades on the cornice of the apse, square base and drum of the dome, also recall the decorative architectural elements of the Raška school, albeit in much reduced and impoverished form.

            The basic principle in placing the doors and windows of the church was to site them logically and symmetrically.  There is one portal in the west wall of the parvis, and one in the west wall of the church.  There is a window in the centre of each side wall of the parvis, one each in the side walls of the west and central transcepts, a window in the axis of the apse and one narrow window in each of the axes of the apses of the proscomidia and diaconicon (M.Šuput, p. 179).

            Local building materials were used in the construction of the church – several types of rough-worked stone from the Ozren quarry. The walls of the church are of dressed serpentine.  The angles of the building are formed of more carefully worked sandstone blocks from the village of Krtove (D. Kašić, p. 58). The same stone is used for all the decorative elements in the interior and exterior of the building, other than the doorjambs, which are of reddish limestone, giving the portal a richer, more formal appearance.  The church was originally shingle-roofed, and later the roof was covered with copper sheeting.  Formerly, when the church was still shingle-roofed, the cupola was conical in form.

            Until 1878 there was a porch on the west facade, which was removed when the squarish bell tower was built.  The bell tower is made of sandstone blocks. The monastery church now has three bells, of which the oldest is also the largest, and bears the inscription: «Dedicated to God the Saviour for the needs of our holy mother church from the Serbian Orthodox people of lower Tuzla, 1882,» while along the edge is written: «Livali Đorđa of the tribe of Bote sons in Vršcu». The central bell has an engraved image of Jesus Christ on one side, and the text: «Ring out, bells, to the glory of God, carry our prayers up to God.»  On the other side is the escutcheon of the Serbian church, and below it the text: «1976, bless us o Lord.  Bell of the monastery of St. Nicholas in Ozren.»  The small bell has an engraved image of the Mother of God on one side, with the text: «Lord save us with the prayers of the Holy Mother of God.»  On the other side, beneath the escutcheon of the Serbian church, is an inscription: «1976. Bell of the monastery of Ozren in Bosnia.» (D. Kašić, 1981, p. 93)

            The Ozren church was frescoed in the early decades of the seventeenth century. A number of compositions attract one's attention.

            On the west wall south of the door Prior Joakim, who spent more than two decades on the completion and decoration of the church, is figured.

            On the vault over the altar space, there is a single composition of God the Father, now badly damaged.  It shows God the Father with a triangular halo, sitting on an ornate heavenly throne. On his lap sits the Christ Child, and around them are angels, cherubim and seraphim. The old Byzantine theme of God the Father is also to be encountered in eleventh and twelfth century manuscripts, in the thirteenth century paintings of the church of the Panagiya Kubelidika in Kostur, in the fourteenth century in the Serbian psalter of Tomić in Munich and in the fifteenth century in an icon from the Tretjakov gallery. The subject appears comparatively rarely in monuments from the period of Turkish rule – in the church of St. George in Prevela in Crete, 1451-1462, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century on the vault of the church of the Strupec monastery and in the church of St. George in Pološko.  The Holy Father is more often represented in Russian paintings, whereas in Serbian wall paintings the subject appears only in the Ozren monastery church. This scene in fact provides evidence of Strahinja's knowledge of iconography. There are several instances of paintings of the Holy Father in Russian churches, and perhaps Strahinja was familiar with some Russian iconographic model or miniature in some Russian illuminated manuscript, given that the links between Serbian and Russian Orthodox monasteries were very strong during the late sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth century.

            The iconographic plan of the wall paintings in Ozren is largely based on those of older Serbian and Byzantine monuments, particularly those of the sixteenth century. The plan and iconographic treatment indicate that although relatively rustic as regards his style, Strahinja was very well informed in the theological sense. This is to be seen in the plan and iconographic treatment of the paintings in the cupola, Christ Pantocrator, the Heavenly liturgy, the prophets, and on the altar, with representations of the Archiereus paying reverence to Christ the Lamb of God, the Communion of the apostles, and in particular the hymn «O tebe radujetsja». In the comprehensive cycle of the Passion of Christ, Strahinja again displays the extent to which he is theologically well-informed, with the inclusion of the comparatively rare theme of Christ appointing St. Peter as Prince of the Apostles or head of Christ's flock.

            All the texts accompanying the figures and scenes, as well as the texts on the scrolls of the painted figures, betray an excellent knowledge of liturgical texts, ecclesiastical poetry and sermons. Linguistically they are immaculate.

            Strahinja was one of the most productive Serb painters of the early seventeenth century; it was he who painted the church of the Holy Trinity in Pljevlje, the monastery of Piva, Dobrun, and Gradište, as well as Ozren. His work is readily recognizable from the oval, rather large heads dominated by huge eyes drawn with dark lines beneath long, sharply defined, sickle-shaped eyebrows. The painter of the Ozren parvis was a rather better draftsman that Strahinja, but technically less accomplished, so that his frescoes are in a more advanced state of deterioration.  He uses soft, refined pastel colours.  His figures are handsomer and more harmonious, slender, elegantly elongated, with small heads, calm movements and carefully painted faces (Ševo, 2002, p. 105) 

Chart of the frescoes in the church of St. Nicholas in Ozren:

Frescoes on the west wall (north to south)

1.       Skirting with gathered drapes (1)

2.       St. Zosima serving communion to St. Mary the Egyptian (2)

3.       Medallion with image of Christ Emmanuel (3)

4.       Mother of God and Christ (4)

5.       Founder's composition – Prior Joakim (5)

6.       Medallion with bust of a saint (6)

7.       Medallion with bust of a saint (7)

8.       Medallion with bust of a saint (8)

9.       Medallion with bust of a saint (9)

10.   Medallion with bust of a saint (10)

11.   Medallion with bust of a saint (11)

12.   Medallion with bust of a saint (12)

13.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas (13)

14.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas (14)

15.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas (15)

16.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas (16)

17.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas (17)

18.   Scene from the life of St. Nicholas Medallion (18)

19.   Medallion (19)

20.   Medallion (20)

21.   Medallion (21)

22.   Medallion (22)

23.   Medallion (23)

24.   Medallion (24)

25.   Medallion (25)

26.   Founder's inscription (95)

Frescoes on vault of parvis (east to west)

1.       Holy Trinity or the Throne prepared (?) (26)

2.       Christ the Elder of Days (27)

Frescoes on south wall (east to west)

1.       Warrior saint (28)

2.       Archangel Gabriel (29)

3.       Archangel Michael (30)

4.       Emperor Constantine (31)

5.       Unidentified warrior saint (32)

6.       Unidentified saint (33)

7.       Unidentified saint (34)

8.       Unidentified saint (35)

9.       Unidentified saint archdeacon (36)

10.   Unidentified saint (37)

11.   Unidentified saint (38)

12.   St. Vasilije the Great (39)

13.   Christ the Lamb of God (40)

14.   St John Chrysostom (41)

15.   St. Gregory Doctor of the Church (42)

16.   St. Cyril the Philosopher (43)

17.   Vision of St. Peter of Alexandria (44)

18.   Unidentified saint (45)

19.   Unidentified saint (46)

20.   Unidentified saint (47)

21.   Unidentified saint (48)

22.   Unidentified saint (49)

23.   Unidentified saint (50)

24.   Corniche with text from Holy Communion (51)

25.   The Mother of God Platitera (52)

26.   Unidentified apostle (53)

27.   Apostle Matthew (54)

28.   Apostle Mark (55)

29.   St. Jefimija (56)

30.   Apostle Andrew (57)

31.   Unidentified apostle (58)

32.   Unidentified saint (59)

33.   Unidentified saint (60)

34.   Entombment of Christ (61)

35.   Descent into Hades (62)

36.   Christ before Annas and Caiaphas (63)

37.   Denial of Peter (64)

38.   Nativity (65)

39.   Ornament on skirting (66)

40.   Unidentified female saint (67)

41.   Unidentified female saint (68)

42.   Apostles James and Simon (69)

43.   The Last Supper (70)

44.   Christ appoints St. Peter as head of His flock(71)

45.   Holy Father (72)

46.   Unidentified saint (73)

47.   Communion of the apostles (74)

48.   Unidentified saint (75)

49.   St. Tecla (76)

50.   Unidentified evangelist (77)

51.   Unidentified evangelist (78)

52.   Unidentified evangelist (79)

53.   Unidentified evangelist (80)

54.   Unfinished figure of Christ (88)

Frescoes in cupola (east to west)

1.       Prophet David (81)

2.       Prophet Solomon (82)

3.       Prophet Jonah (83)

4.       Prophet Gideon (84)

5.       Prophet Haggai (85)

6.       Prophet Joel (86)

7.       Prophet Isaiah (87)

8.       Four figures of Old Testament fathers (89-92)

9.       Heavenly liturgy (93)

10.   Christ Pantocrator (94)


            Near Ozren monastery are three fountains, of which the oldest is Kaluđerica, at the top of the monastery meadow. From the fountain the water flows like a brook across the meadow through two iron pipes.  In 1849 the people of Ozren set the fountain in good order with the help of priests Mijat and Ignjat, and erected a shelter, as noted on the inscription on a stone plaque.

            The second fountain is closer to the monastery, and was erected by the people in memory of Dabrobosanski Archbishop Đorđe Nikolajević, Metropolitan of Sarajevo, in 1887 again, a plaque records the event. The third fountain was built in 1975 in the new concrete enclosure of the monastery churchyard, and above it a concrete monument was erected with the image of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the monastery.


3. Research and conservation and restoration works

16th century – erection of the building

17th century – frescoes painted

1608/09 – parvis painted

1842 – roof restored

1849 – Kaluđerica  fountain built

1872 – bell tower erected

1920 – Petrovo road cut, church roofed with copper, Kaluđerica fountain restored

1986 – conservation and restoration works carried out, including roofing the building with copper sheeting, and works designed to prevent damp penetrating into the interior.


4. Current state of the monument

            The church of St. Nicholas is in good condition at present, and suffered no war damage, since it was well away from the war zone.

            The paintings of the church of St. Nicholas in Ozren are somewhat damaged by the deleterious action of damp in the past.  On some of the frescoes the plaster has become detached from the wall.  The frescoes need to be cleaned to remove layers of deposits, the plaster base needs to be fixed by injection, and the pigmented layers re-frescoed.

            Following conservation and restoration works in 1996, the Ozren church is not at risk from atmospheric or capillary damp, so that all the existing cultural and historical movable items currently located in the church should remain there.

            All the icons of value have been removed to the eparchial centre in Tuzla.


Movable heritage items

            Royal doors

            These belongs to an earlier iconostasis of the monastery church.  They are 152 cm in height, and the wings are 89 cm wide.  Each wing is made of a limewood board on which a 6 mm border, serving as a frame, has been left on the outer edge at the time they were made.  On the left wing, a spirally carved lath is attached to the centre of the door, covering the composition of the doorframe.  The boards were first covered with a plaster base, and then painted.  The doors as a whole are divided into two areas.  In the upper and smaller of these, which includes the semicircular area at the top with which the doors are finished, King Solomon is shown to the left and King David to the right.  The Annunciation is shown in the lower and larger zone of the doors.

On the reverse of the doors, on the untreated surface of the board, is a drawing of the Mother of God.

            On the basis of the treatment, it is assumed that the iconostasis dates from around 1650 (S. Rakić, 1998, p. 54)

Icons by local naive painters

Mother of God Odigitrija, measuring 30 x 20 cm, assumed to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Painted on board with projections, so that the upper part of the frame resembles a baldaquin, and the lower forms a pedestal.  It is an example of a better-quality family icon of its period.

            Mother of God Odigitrija, measuring 29 x 19 cm. The work is rustic.

            St. John the Baptist, measuring 32.5 x 25 cm. Painted on deal board, to which a deal lath is nailed to form a frame.  Dates from the late eighteenth century.

            St. Triphon, measuring 41,2 x 29.5 cm. Dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

Icons by russian painters

Panel with scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin, measuring 44,.5 x 37.5 cm and dating from the eighteenth century. Painted on limewood boards. The lives of Christ and the Virgin are presented in thirteen rightangular fields.

Jesus Christ, measuring 38.8 x 26.5 cm and dating from the eighteenth century. Painted on a deal board over a plaster base.

St. Nicholas, measuring 37.5 x 30.5 cm and dating from the eighteenth century. Painted on a deal board.

Kazan Mother of God, measuring 38.4 x 31 cm and dating from the eighteenth century.  Painted on a deal board.

Crucifixion of Christ, measuring 38.3 x 31 cm and dating from the eighteenth century. Painted on a deal board.    

Iverska Mother of God, dating from the nineteenth century. Was the votive icon of a regiment of the Russian Imperial Army.        

Pieta, measuring 28.5 x 22.7 cm, the work of the Italian painter Emanuel Lambardos, dating from the seventeenth century and belonging to the Italo-Cretan group of icons. The subject of the Pieta was introduced as the tragic counterpart to the familiar Virgin and Child motif.  In the fourteenth century this iconographic type spread from the Rajanski area to Bohemia, France and the  Alps, where it remained popular until the sixteenth century. Lambardos followed the Italian model in painting this western iconographic motif, but his treatment betrays a return to the style of fourteenth century Byzantine painting.  While returning to the style of Cretan painting, Lambardos was a perfect master of technique and a fine draftsman. Similar icons by Lambardos are to be found in the Benaki museum in Athens, the Nikolenko Gallery in Paris, the Sekulić collection in Belgrade and in the Serbian Orthodox Church in Dubrovnik (Rakić, 1998, p. 228)

Mother of God, measuring 58 x 48 cm. The work of a Venetian or coastal Greek master of the eighteenth century, it belongs to the Italo-Cretan group of icons.

Ascension of Christ, measuring 77 x 56 cm, the work of Sava Petrović of Timosoara, dating from 1847.

An earlier collection of icons was destroyed in the course of the turbulent events of the past. 


            Prior to the present iconostasis in the church of St. Nicholas in Ozren, there was an older iconostasis dating from 1894, which was a good example of the classicist work of Nikola Dimšić, from Novi Sad.  It is now in the church in the village of Boljanić, Doboj Municipality.

            The present marble iconostasis was made in 1980 by the monumental mason Živan Milošević of Velike Vode near Kruševac, and the icons on it were painted by jeromonah Pavle Kalanj in the style of mediaeval painting.



            The monastery church in Ozren is entirely in the spirit of mediaeval (thirteenth century) ecclesiastical architecture and is a single coherent structure from a single period. The nave and altar area of the monastery church of  St. Nicholas were painted during the year 1605/6 by priest Strahinja, while the parvis was most likely painted by another artist.

            The church of St. Nicholas owns an icon of the Pieta by the famous Italian painter Emanuel Lambardos dating from the early seventeenth century.

            The church itself is important for the people of the surrounding region, since from time immemorial it has been here that large crowds gather to celebrate  the Feast of the Assumption on 28 August, establishing new social relationships in just a few days.

            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 criteria forming the basis of the Decision are:

A. Time frame

B. Historical value

C. Artistic and aesthetic value

C. I. Quality of workmanship

C.III. proportions

C. IV. Composition

C. V. Value of details

D. Clarity

D. III. Work of a major artist or builder

D. IV. Evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

D. V. Evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

E. Symbolic value

E II Religious value

E III Traditional value

E IV Connection with rituals or ceremonies

E V Significance for the identity of a group of people

G. Authenticity

G. IV. Tradition and technique

G. V. Location and setting

G. VI. Spirit and feeling


            The following documentation is an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            The following works were consulted during the procedure of designating the architectural complex of the monastery and church of St. Nicholas in Ozren:


V. Ćorović, Hercegovački manastiri (Monasteries of Herzegovina), Antiquarian of the Serbian Archaeological  Society,  series III, vols. X-XI , Belgrade, 1935./36, pp. 1- 36.


Z. Kajmaković, Zidno slikarstvo u Bosni i Hercegovini (Wall paintings in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo 1971.


D. Kašić, Manastir svetog Nikole Ozren (Monastery of St. Nicholas, Ozren), Tuzla 1982.


Lj. Kojić: Manastir Žitomislići (Monastery of Žitomislići), Sarajevo 1983.


S. Rakić, Ikone Bosne i Hercegovine (16-19. vijek) (Icons of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 16th to 19th century), Belgrade, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, 1998


Lj. Stojanović: Stari srpski zapisi  (Old Serbian Records) no. 473.


Ševo Ljiljana, Pravoslavne crkve i manastiri u Bosni i Hercegovini do 1878. godine (Orthodox Churches and Monasteries in Bosnia and Herzegovina to 1878), Biblioteka Baština, City of  Banjaluka, Glas Srpski, Banjaluka, 2002.


M. Šuput, Srpska arhitektura u doba turske vlasti (Serbian Architecture during the Period of Turkish Rule), Belgrade 1984.


T. Vitanović, Manastir Ozren (Ozren Monastery), Journal of the National Museum in  Sarajevo, no II, Sarajevo 1889


Ozren monastery, photo from 1910 The monastery church of Ozren    The architectural ensemble of Ozren monasteryMonastery in 80-ies of the 20th century
Bell towerApseFountainPlan of the church
Cross section and east facadeCross section and south facadeSouth wall, partly reconstructionDisposition of the frescoes
Royal doorsPieta, Emanuel Lambardos IconostasisPainted west wall of the parvis
Painted entrance portalNorth choir, the paintingsFrescoes in cupola  

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