Discover Počitelj

The picturesque Počitelj was first mentioned in historical records in the late 14th century, although it is believed to have been settled much earlier than that.


Evliya Çelebi, a Turkish traveler and writer who lived in the 17th century known for his extensive travelogues with detailed descriptions of the places he visited. Çelebi visited Počitelj in 1663 and wrote about his impressions of the town in his travelogue called “Seyahatname” or “Book of Travels.” In his writings, he describes the town’s fortress, mosques, and other significant landmarks, as well as the daily life of the people living there at the time. His descriptions of Počitelj provide valuable insight into the town’s history and culture during the Ottoman period.

The village grew in importance in the following centuries, as it became an important center of trade and culture in the region. Počitelj was particularly well-known for its silver and goldsmiths, who produced exquisite jewelry and other decorative items. In the 16th century, Počitelj came under Ottoman rule, and the village’s architecture began to reflect the influence of Ottoman culture.

Many of the buildings that can be seen in Počitelj today were constructed during this period.  Discover the history and culture of the picturesque town of Počitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Explore the medieval Počitelj Fortress and its well-preserved architecture, including the classic Ottoman-style single-room domed Mosque of Šišman Ibrahim-Paša and the Muslim religious high school of Šišman Ibrahim-Paša. Visit the Hamam (baths), Han (inn) of Šišman Ibrahim-Paša, and Sahat-Kula (clock tower), and learn about their restoration as part of the Programme of the Permanent Protection of Počitelj.

Housing Architecture in Počitelj

Počitelj’s residential architecture is a beautiful fusion of Mediterranean and Oriental styles, with distinct local features. The Mediterranean influence can be seen from the use of gable roofs and small windows to the arrangement of rooms in small, single-story buildings, the Mediterranean influence is prominent. Meanwhile, the Oriental influence is reflected in the use of hipped roofs, doksats or oriel windows, rows of close-set windows, the arrangement of rooms with a hajat (anteroom) on the ground floor and an open divanhan (sitting room) on the first floor, and the interconnected enclosed courtyard and interior living quarters. The basic building material was stone.The use of stone as the primary building material, with round chimneys and roof cladding of irregularly shaped stone slabs, adds to the unique charm of the houses. Sadly, most of the houses in the town were destroyed or ransacked during the 1992-96 war in BiH, but some have been rehabilitated as part of the Programme of the permanent protection of Počitelj, preserving the beauty and cultural significance of the town’s architecture for generations to come.


The Počitelj Fortress, the fortress was constructed in stages between the 15th and 18th centuries, with intervals when construction was suspended.
The original medieval nucleus of the fortress is the oldest walled section, consisting of a donjon tower with a small ward or bailey from the late 14th century. Later additions, alterations, and reinforcements were added in the second half of the 15th century. The layout of the oldest parts of the fortress suggests that there was a small settlement below the fortifications dating from the same period.
Prior to 1698, the fortress was significantly enlarged and fortified with a stronger system of defense. The town was walled to form an inner bailey from the square tower, two bastions (Mehmed-paša’s and Delibaša’s), Dizdar’s house, a granary, the fort’s mosque, and a “water-tower” – a cistern with an entrance and steps leading to the water, two large gateways, and two small ones. During the war the roof suffered damage but wider destruction of the object hasn’t occurred. In Early 2023 the fortress roof and other components have been repaired.

Pocitelj Kula
Šišman Ibrahim-Paša, also known as Hadži Alija’s Mosque


The Šišman Ibrahim-paša or Hadži Alija mosque is a notable example of Ottoman-style single-domed mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was constructed in 970 AH (1562-63 AD) by Hadži Alija, according to its chronogram. The mosque features a dome and a monumental entrance with beautifully carved wooden doors. The landscape is dominated by a slender octagonal minaret with rich decorations, including a stalactite band below the gallery.

The mosque is located in a prominent position in the town of Pocitelj, surrounded by other public buildings such as the mektebs, imaret, medresa, hamam, han, and clock tower.

In the mosque courtyard grows a special type of cypress tree that is said to be older than the mosque itself, brought all the way from Lebanon. This exotic plant gives a special tone to the mystical courtyard that is never empty.

Destroyed Masterpiece of Ottoman Architecture

During the Bosnian War in 1993, the mosque was destroyed, with its dome and minaret demolished, and the remaining structure severely damaged. However, as part of the Permanent Protection Programme of Pocitelj, the mosque was later restored to its original function.

In the 17th century, the mosque was restored by Šišman Ibrahim-paša, after which it became known in the community as the Šišman Ibrahim-paša mosque.
This mosque does not have any preserved vakufnames, nor was there a plaque above the mosque’s entrance in the recess for a inscription. It was not until 1948 that a plaque that had been inside the mosque was put outside with the inscription: “This honorable mosque was built for the forgiveness of sinners by the benefactor Hadži Alija, son of Musa, in the year 970” (1562-63). There is no cemetery next to the Počitelj mosque as is usual with other mosques in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the hard and narrow terrain did not allow for the creation of a harem.


The Gavrankapetanović House comprises of three buildings, including two smaller and one larger building, which were constructed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is considered the most elaborate example of residential architecture in Počitelj and features arched windows on the west facade. Unfortunately, by the mid-twentieth century, the buildings were abandoned and in a state of disrepair. However, in 1961, a project was initiated to convert the buildings into an artists’ colony. This restoration project was completed in 1975. During the 1992-1996 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the complex was destroyed by fire. Nonetheless, the Gavrankapetanović Housing Complex has been reconstructed and now serves as an Artists’ Colony as part of the Programme for the Permanent Protection of Počitelj.


The International Art Colony in Pocitelj

The International Art Colony in Pocitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was established in 1964 as a platform for artists to come together, share ideas, and create art. It is important because it promotes cultural exchange and brings together artists from around the world to work in a beautiful and inspiring environment. The colony provides housing for artists in traditional Bosnian houses and studios, and offers workshops, exhibitions, and events. It has become a significant cultural institution in the region and has contributed to the development of contemporary art in the region.


The Medresa, or Muslim religious high school, of Šišman Ibrahim-Paša dates back to before 1664, as documented in Evlija Čelebi’s travel chronicle. It is a smaller religious school consisting of five classrooms and a lecture room arranged around an inner courtyard. The classrooms are covered with five small domes, while the lecture room is roofed with one large dome. During the Bosnian War in 1992-96, the Medresa was also damaged by shelling.

medresa pocitelj bosnia
Hamam Pocitelj Bosnia


According to Evlija Čelebi’s travel chronicle, the baths in Počitelj were built before 1664 by craftsmen sent from Istanbul for the purpose. The hamam is a typical example of smaller public baths. During the 1992-96 war in BiH, the hamam suffered damage. However, as a part of the Programme of the Permanent Protection of Počitelj, the hamam was rehabilitated and restored to its original function.


The sahat-kula or clock-tower in Počitelj is assumed to have been erected after 1664 since Evlija Čelebi’s travel chronicle makes no reference to it. The clock-tower is typical of those found in Herzegovina, influenced by Mediterranean-Dalmatian architecture. It is constructed of stone, with dressed quoins and ending in a stone pyramid. There are four pointed arches on the four sides above the opening near the top of the tower. This type of sahat-kula can also be found in Mostar and Stolac. It’s clock was stolen during one of many wars, likely by Nazi during second world war.

Pocitelj Sahat Kula
Pocitelj Han


The construction of the inn dates back to 1665, and it was designed as a single-story han type, centered around a central area for horses to be stabled. While much of the original structure is no longer present, some remnants have been recorded, including an arched gate made of finely dressed cut stone, parts of the outside walls on either side of the entrance and opposite it, and remains of the raised podium where travelers could rest. In the 1970s, the inn was renovated and repurposed for catering, while still retaining some of its original features.

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