Inspiring Croatian women through history

March 8th has celebrated women and their fight for equality for more than a hundred years. The position of women in society, their rights, the way they are presented, and the things, thoughts and feelings expected of them are topics that often arise. These topics have changed history and are still changing, and among famous Croatian women, some have stood out. Their voices were heard more loudly and their engagement encouraged many.

Marija Jurić Zagorka – writer and journalist, 1873–1957 

The first female journalist in Southeast Europe, a skilled and sophisticated publicist and the author of many plays and historical novels, wrote until the last hour of the day for decades without dropping her pen. She is one of the most widely read Croatian writers. She grew up in a village in Croatian Zagorje, and because of her love for that part of the country, she gave herself the nickname “Zagorka.” The Witch of Grič, a product of Marija Jurić Zagorka’s rich imagination, became a favorite piece of Croatian literature. Various Zagreb landmarks and monuments provide the perfect backdrop for the romantic endeavors of Zagorka’s heroes: Manduševac fountain, St. Mark’s Church, the tower of Mesnička street, and the hills of Grič and Kaptol that make up Zagreb’s Upper Town area.

Slava Raškaj – the most famous Croatian watercolorist, 1877–1906

Slava was considered the greatest Croatian watercolorist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Slava was born in Ozalj, where the beautiful Kupa that flows through Ozalj and the rest of the nature that surrounded her were frequent motifs of Slava’s works. Born deaf, Slava Raškaj showed her emotions through art from an early age. Regardless of her disability and the fact that at that time, people such as she were ostracized from society, Slava’s paintings still represent the highest level of Croatian watercolors from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. She died very young, at only 29 years of age. In March the city of Ozalj traditionally pays tribute to the genius painter and proudly remembers her masterpiece.

Ivana Brlić Mažuranić – writer, 1874 –1938

Ivana, born in Ogulin,  is one of the most influential children’s authors and a Croatian writer recognized worldwide. Because of her virtuosity and the magical, mystical world of mythology she transferred to paper, many called her the Croatian Andersen or Tolkien. Some of her most significant stories have been made it onto the screen, and many of her books have been translated into all major world languages. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in both 1931 and 1938. The works she left behind are part of many childhoods. Located within the mediaeval Frankopan Castle in Ogulin, Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales consists of a permanent multimedia exhibition celebrating fairy tales and their makers.

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