Počitelj, once a feudal seat on the Neretva River, is dominated by a fortress that fell to the Ottoman advance in 1471. The village became a popular tourist destination and artistic retreat following the Second World War. Though it reflects Ottoman urban life in the region, it is also an emblem of preservation challenges in the aftermath of war in Bosnia. Recent conflict in the region resulted in the departure of much of the Muslim population, and the subsequent destruction and neglect of important historic buildings, including the sixteenth-century mosque of Šišman Ibrahim-Paša. Neglect led to lack of maintenance, vegetation overgrowth, and looting at unsecured sites.
1996 and 1998 World Monuments Watch
Počitelj was included on the 1996 and 1998 World Monuments Watch to call attention to the rapid deterioration of key buildings in the village. WMF secured support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to conduct condition surveys, carried out by the Study Centre for Reconstruction and Development in Dubrovnik and York University's Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit, which investigated the physical condition of all parts of the town. The resulting publication, The Revitalization of Počitelj: A War-Damaged Historic Settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina (April 1997), focuses on the reconstruction of cultural resources, addressing the social needs of the village. Since 2000, the local government has been implementing a program for the protection, rehabilitation, and revitalization of the historic village. A number of buildings, including the mosque, madrassa (Muslim high school), haman (the baths) and several residential buildings have been rehabilitated and returned to use.
The remarkable built heritage of Počitelj covers dates back to the fifteenth century and has remained intact despite conflict. The project proposed following the survey has become a model in a region filled with towns ruined by war, its methodological approach adopted by the Central Ministry of Planning as it seeks foreign aid for revitalization. Internationally, it has been used by the British Overseas Development Administration's Know-How Fund as a model for cultural heritage protection.