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The historical urban area of Počitelj is located on the left bank of the Neretva River, on the main road Mostar - Metković, south of Mostar, in the area of the municipality of Čapljina.

In the Middle Ages, Počitelj was the administrative center and administrative center of Dubrava parish, as well as its westernmost point, which gave it great strategic importance. It is assumed that the fortified town and the associated settlements were built by the Bosnian king Stjepan Tvrtko I in 1383.

The walled town of Počitelj developed in the period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Architecturally, the preserved stone parts of the city are a fortified complex, in which two stages of development can be observed: medieval and Ottoman.

The first documented mention of the city dates back to 1444, in charters issued by kings Alfonso V and Friedrich III. In the period 1463-1471. there was a Hungarian crew in the city. After a short siege in 1471, the city fell into the hands of the Ottomans and was to remain part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878. From 1782 to 1879, it was the center of a kadiluk (area under the jurisdiction of a kadija or kadija - judge) and from 1713 to 1835 the seat of the Počiteljska Military District.

The significance and appearance of the city changed during its history. Three periods seem to be significant for the development of Počitel:

1. The time of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, when the city had significant strategic importance (1463-1471),

2. The period of settlement development under the Ottoman Empire with the construction of typical public buildings: mosques, mekteb (Muslim primary school), imaret (charitable kitchen), madrasa (Muslim high school), hamam, Turkish bath, han (inn) and clock tower ( clock tower) (1471-1698). During this period, military conflicts took place in more distant areas.

3.   The period of recovery of strategic importance after the Venetians conquered and destroyed Gabela (1698-1878).

With the establishment of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878, Počitelj lost its strategic importance and began to rapidly decline. The loss of the city's strategic role contributed to the preservation of the original urban architectural ensemble, so that the city has been preserved in its original form to this day.

During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1996, the entire historic urban site of Počitelj and all its various buildings suffered major war damage.

In 1996, World Monuments Watch declared Počitelj one of the 100 most endangered cultural heritage sites in the world, as proposed by the University of York, Great Britain, and the University of Sarajevo, in light of its exceptional value.

In 2000, the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina started the Program for the Permanent Protection of Počitelje, which consists of: protection of cultural heritage from further deterioration, rehabilitation of damaged and destroyed buildings, return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes, and sustainable and long-term protection and revitalization of the historic city area of Počitelje . The program is ongoing and is now in the rehabilitation phase of residential areas in the upper part of Počitelje.

Architecture

THE FORTRESS - The Počitelj Fortress was built between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, with intervals when construction was interrupted. The original medieval core of the fort is the oldest masonry part, where two stages of construction can be recognized: the older, inner city or fortress (tower tower with a small courtyard or corral) from the end of the 14th century, with later additions, alterations and reinforcements from the second half of the 15th century . Judging by the arrangement of the oldest parts of the fortress, it can be assumed that there was a smaller settlement under the fortifications, which dates from an earlier or the same period as the fortifications themselves. Sometime before 1698, the fortress was significantly expanded and strengthened with a stronger defense system. The city was surrounded by walls so that it formed an inner enclosure of a square tower, two bastions (Mehmed Paša's and Delibaša's), Dizdar's house, a granary, a fortress mosque and a "water tower" - a cistern with an entrance and stairs. water to water, two large and two small passages. In the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-96. the fortress did not suffer major damage.

ŠIŠMAN IBRAHIM-PAŠINA MOSQUE – or Hadži Alija's mosque is one of the most beautiful realizations of the classic Ottoman style of one-room under-domed mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the chronogram, it was built by Hajji Alija in 970 AD (1562-63 AD). The mosque occupies a prominent place in the urban fabric of the city and its natural surroundings. Other public facilities located next to the mosque are schools, imaret, madrasa, hammam, inn and clock tower. The mosque was blown up in 1993: the dome and minaret were demolished, and the rest of the building was badly damaged. As part of the Program for the Permanent Protection of Počitelje, the mosque was renovated and has now returned to its original function.

MEDRESA (Muslim religious high school) OF ŠIŠMAN IBRAHIM-PAŠA - From the travel chronicle of Evlija Čelebija, it is clear that the madrasa in Počitelj dates back to before 1664. It belongs to the standard type of smaller religious school, with five classrooms and a lecture hall arranged along two sides of the inner courtyard. The classrooms are covered with five small domes, and the lecture hall with one large one. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-96. the madrasa was damaged by shelling. As part of the Permanent Protection Program of Počitelje, the madrasa was renovated.

HAMAM (the baths) – From the travel chronicle of Evlija Celebija, it can be concluded that the baths were built before 1664, and that they were built by craftsmen sent from Istanbul for this purpose.

The hammam is typical of smaller public baths. As part of the Program for the Permanent Protection of Počitelje, the hamam was renovated.

HAN (inn) OF ŠIŠMAN IBRAHIM-PAŠA – was built around 1665. It was a one-story inn type, built around a central area where the horses were kept. Little has been preserved from the original construction of the han: the remains of an arched gate made of finely carved stone with parts of the outer walls to the left and right of the entrance, parts of the outer wall opposite the entrance; some remains of a raised platform (for passengers to rest); all recorded until 1960. The building was adapted for catering purposes in the 1970s.

SAHAT-KULA – CLOCK-TOWER – Since the clock tower is not mentioned in the travel chronicle of Evlija Celebija, it is assumed that it was built later than 1664. It is characteristic of clock towers in Herzegovina, which were created under the influence of Mediterranean-Dalmatian architecture. It is built of stone, with processed cosmics and ends with a stone pyramid. Above the opening at the top of the tower are four pointed arches of four sizes. This type of clock tower is located in Počitelje, Mostar and Stolac.

HOUSING – The residential architecture of Počitelje is a stylistic combination of Mediterranean and oriental elements with certain local features. The influence of Mediterranean architecture is manifested in the use of gabled roofs, the emphasized stone structure of the walls, small, widely spaced windows and the arrangement of rooms in relatively small, single-story buildings. The influence of oriental architecture is reflected in the use of hipped roofs, docks or bay windows, rows of close-up windows, the arrangement of rooms with a hajat (entrance hall) on the ground floor and an open divanhana (living room) on the ground floor. floor, and an interconnected closed courtyard and interior living area. The basic building material was stone. Typical common features are round chimneys and roof covering of irregularly shaped stone slabs. All houses had toilets in the courtyard and a hamamdžiluk (small bathroom) in the musandera (built-in carved wooden structure with wardrobes and occupying the entire wall of the main room). Wealthier households had a bathroom in every room. All the houses in the town were abandoned during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-96. As part of the Program for the Permanent Protection of Počitelje, the mosque was renovated and has now returned to its original function.

GAVRANKAPETANOVIĆ'S HOUSE is a set of buildings consisting of two smaller and one larger building (divided into selamluk and haremluk) built during the 16th and 17th centuries. In terms of size, it is the largest and most developed example of residential architecture in Počitelje. A characteristic of the building is the use of arched windows on the west facade. By the middle of the twentieth century, the buildings were abandoned and deteriorated badly, which is why, in order to preserve and restore the building, a project was started in 1961 to convert it into an art colony, and it was completed in 1975. The central building was turned into accommodation for artists. During the war, the complex was set on fire and destroyed in 1993. The greatest damage was suffered by the harem, the wooden structure of the pavement and the wooden formwork. As part of the Program for the Permanent Protection of Počitelje, the Gavrankapetanovića residential complex was renovated and has now been returned to the function of an Art Colony.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The historical urban site Počitelj forms a spatially and topographically independent entity.

Počitelj was built on a stone cliff that descends steeply to the bank of the river Neretva. It belongs to the group of medieval geomorphological fortified cities of smaller dimensions with one tower. The rocky slope above the river defined the outlines of the fortifications, thus forming a solid foundation for the ramparts.

The site is structured into different zones that serve different purposes. Along the Neretva is a bazaar with rows of small oriental shops, a large inn and public baths. Behind the han is the madrasah and the imaret or soup kitchen. Above the madrasah is a mosque, with one entrance/exit connected to the bazaar and school, and the other to the residential area. The residential area is amphitheatrically placed on the slopes. The entire complex of buildings in Počitelje is surrounded by ramparts. The minaret and the clock tower form two bold vertical accents in the landscape. Gornje and Donje polje or Gornje and Donje polje are Počitelja gardens.

Unlike other cities from the same period, there are no cemeteries within the city walls, nor does the mosque have a cemetery - the dead were buried outside the ramparts. The cemetery known as the Great Harem is located on the hillside outside the ramparts. The oldest epitaph on the tombstone dates from 1211 AH (1796 CE).

The differentiation of the site area led to the simultaneous differentiation of roads. The framework consists of a road that descends downhill to the river, tangentially meets the rampart, goes around the mosque from the south and west, passes between the school and the house of Gavrankapetanović and continues through the lower gate to Donje polje. A side road leads from the mosque to the school, imaret and hammam, and then through a small gate to Gornje polje. All the main public buildings except the mosque and the clock tower are located within the triangle formed by the main roads.

Comparison with other similar properties

Počitelj represents one of the rare urban units in Bosnia and Herzegovina preserved in its integrity to this day, developing through several stages of history, starting from the Middle Ages. Its important strategic role during the 13th to 17th century gave the power of its inhabitant to build up one of the most important, and best preserved ensembles within the city walls in this region.

Počitelj can be compared to some of the world heritage sites such as: Stari most, Old Town of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), City of Safranbolu (Turkey), Museum-City of Gjirokastra (Albania), Natural and Cultural Heritage Ohrid Region (Former Yugoslav Republic Macedonia) and Dr. Počitelj, with its layout, architecture and use of materials, belongs to the group of Ottoman-Mediterranean types of small settlements.

Do you want to experience Počitelj firsthand, enjoy the stunning architecture, the picturesque view of the source of the Neretva River and learn all about its rich history? Contact our partners - ERO Travel Tour Agency.

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