THE RE-OPENING OF KARADJOZBEG MOSQUE

TENTH ARCHITECTURAL WORKSHOP MOSTAR 2004

Karadjozbeg Mosque

Karadjozbeg, brother of the grand Vizier Rustem-Pasa constructed a mosque in memory of the latter, in 1557. Mimar Sinan is cited as the builder.

Karadjozbeg Mosque was built in the immediate vicinity of the bazaar, beside the main road, as a complex including a mosque, a medresa, a schoold, a khan and a public kitchen for the poor. It belongs to the simple domed type, with a porch under three small cupolas, a second porch and a minaret.

The walls, the minaret and all interior elements are constructed with cut stone. All cupolas are made of limestone. The central space is walled in 1,1 m. thick walls, and makes an almost perfect cube (10,8 m. by 10,8 m. by 10,8 m.) vaulted by a dome whose highest point is 16 m. from ground level.

A high and light porch is supported on the outside by four monolith stone columns. The capitals of the columns are decorated with stalactites. On the porch a transition from the square base to the circular base of the cupola is made by pendentives. In front of this porch, another spacious one with a slanting roof was built at a later date. The right front corner of the central cube is a very slender 39 m. high fourteen-sided minaret. The minaret's balcony is decorated with stalactites.

The portal is of an imposing size and is bordered with an attractively profiled oblong stone frame. The space over the portal is in the form of an isosceles triangle, used for an inscription identifying the founder of the mosque and the year of construction.

A stone frame highlights the mihrab. It consists of three principal parts; doorway leading to a staircase with stone handrails, an upper pyramidal part borne by four octagonal columns, and triangular structures covering the space under the staircase. The mahfil is a gallery adjoined to the inner side of the front wall resting on four eight-sided columns.

The interior space is lit through five openings on each of the side walls. The lower windows are rectangular, nicely profiled stone frames with built-in iron bars. The original wall painting was damaged during the remodeling of the mosque in 1909. On the basis of preserved details, however, it is possible to produce a rough reconstruction of the original decoration.

It was highly damaged in the war. The mosque had been continuously in use since its construction.

The restoration of the interior paintings aimed to preserve the most valuable historic layers and emphasize the rich history and importance of the mosque.

Its fine decorations date from the 16th century, when the mosque was built, and are expressed in elegant geometric forms and stylized floral patterns (most visible on the mihrab). This layer was restored on most important elements of the mosque where sufficient traces were found.

There are also very valuable decorations with stylized trees, dating from a later period. This is a regional characteristic and can be found in several mosques in Mostar.

The 19th century layer is left in few small areas (where it is less visible) for its historical value as a witness of the Austro Hungarian period.

The minaret was damaged, and the upper body part and roof were inappropriately restored in 1997.

According to the structural analysis it was necessary to dismantle the whole structure, almost until the transition part of the minaret, and then to rebuild it again. Also the geodetic measurements have shown that the geometry of the minaret was slightly disturbed. The task was especially difficult on the sherefe part since the stones are very large and have rich delicate ornamentation. The dismantling was completed successfully, without a single broken stone. The inappropriate or damaged stones were replaced, and the geometry of the minaret was corrected.

Outline by Prof. Arch. Amir Pasćc


On the occasion of the re-opening of the mosque, IRCICA organised an EXHIBITION ABOUT KARADJOZBEG, at the courtyard of Karadjozbeg Mosque.

Addresses were delivered by -in the order of presentation- Mufti Seid Efendi Seid Smajkić, the religious Head of Muslims; H.E. Sulejman Tihic, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina; H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani, Founder and Chairman of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, who generously supported the restoration of the mosque; and H.E. Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA and Secretary General Elect of OIC. Reis Ulema Dr. Mustafa Cerić was present at the ceremony.

Mufti Seid Efendi Seid Smajkić emphasized the importance of Karadjozbeg Mosque, an architectural and cultural object of priceless historic value. He said that the mosque is a symbol for all mosques in this region. He explained that it was built by the means of Hair Sahibija Karadjozbeg in 1557-1558, about ten years before the Old Bridge. It preserved its original features, except that in 1909 the interior decorative paintings were redone in a new style. Mufti Smajkić told the history of the building, the waqf – foundation associated with it, and how the structure was destroyed. He expressed his happiness that it was rebuilt and being re-opened.

The President of Bosnia and Herzegovina His Excellency President Sulejman Tihic expressed his thanks to all those who contributed to the reconstruction of the mosque, especially Sheikh Zaki Yamani. He said that for Mostar, and also for Bosnia and Herzegovina, reconstruction of Karadjozbeg mosque carried special meaning, because this mosque, connected with the Old Bridge and with other historical buildings, make up the Old Core of Mostar. These two monuments of Mostar have a common history. They were destroyed around the same time and they are being opened at the same time. The President said "With the reconstruction of The Old Bridge, Karadjozbeg mosque and the Old Core of the City, we not only bring back the old splendor of Mostar, but this represents a victory of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a multiethnic, multi-religious and multicultural community."

Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani delivered a speech in which he said that in Islam a mosque is not only a place of worship, but also place of learning: Muslims callers in the ancient Islamic until lately used to sit in the mosques and teach the various fields of knowledge such as astronomy, mathematics, and other sciences. Islamic civilisation contributed greatly to the western civilization. Sheikh Yamani said that Islam recognizes all religions that preceded it: Christianity and Judaism, and as a matter of fact, the Holy Books: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Therefore, the Muslims are prepared for cooperation and for coexistence with all the other religions; this is the nature of Islam and this what happened in the past.

Prof. İhsanoğlu said "This complex, this mosque, this medresa [school of higher education], this imaret [public kitchen], all of this beautiful buildings with the rich endowment made by Karadjozbeg lived in peace for half of century serving the people from this area, serving the people in the Balkans, those who needed this help. Until one evil soul came one day and decided to destroy it. But after a noble man from Mostar built this mosque four hundred and fifty years ago, another noble man who comes from the holy place, from Mecca, has restored it today: H.E. Sheikh Zaki Yamani, the Chairman of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation. He is also one of the greatest supporters for the restoration of the collections of Gazi Husrevbegova Library. These good wishes, noble spirits, for sure will defeat the evil ones. And we, particularly in IRCICA and İSAR Waqf (Foundation) in Istanbul, are very, very happy with the culmination of the Mostar 2004 project with the opening of Karadjozbeg mosque for prayers. On behalf of IRCICA and İSAR Foundation, I would like to send my thanks to the religious authorities and monument authorities in Mostar and Bosnia and Herzegovina for the wonderful cooperation we have had over ten years during the workshops, during our different projects for restoration and reconstruction of monuments in this beautiful city."

Opening of the Old Bridge

The closing ceremony of IRCICA’s architectural workshops and the opening of Karadjozbeg Mosque were placed within the framework of a one-month program to celebrate the rebuilding of the city of Mostar. A major event marking the commemoration program was the opening of the Old Bridge of Mostar. Promotions of books, concerts of classical and modern music, poetry sessions, exhibitions, conferences and sportive events, in total more than hundred events were held during the month of July 2004. The main carrier of all activities was the Mostar 2004 program as the longest one (July 7-22) with more than one hundred participants.

54 state delegations, among of them six Presidents, five Prime Ministers, the Prince of Wales, ministers of foreign affairs, ambassadors, delegations from the donor institutions, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, prominent personalities from political and social life of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkan region, were present during the events and ceremonies.