Written by: Milica Bokšan

Famous Serbian women greatly influenced the culture and history of Serbia.

They changed old rules and created new ones.

They were brave, daring, and successful. That is why the Serbian people are very proud of them.

So let us introduce you to some of the most famous Serbian women!

#1 Famous Serbian Women: Katarina Ivanović

Katarina Ivanović (1811 – 1882) was the first Serbian painter.

During her life, she painted 38 paintings and left behind several sketches and drawings.

Katarina was a great patriot, also. She donated 15 of her works to the National Museum in Belgrade. Among them is her self-portrait.

famous serbian women katarina ivanovic self-portrait
Source: Wikipedia

Her most famous works are Autoportret (= Self-Portrait), Portret mladog muškarca (= Portrait of a Young Man) and Korpa s grožđem (= Basket with Grapes).

Thanks to her beauty, she was an inspiration to many Serbian poets!

#2 Famous Serbian Women: Nadežda Petrović

Nadežda is known as the mother of Serbian modernism.

famous serbian women nadežda petrović picture and painting
Source: Serbian Times

She was a Serbian painter and nurse.

Although she lived a shorter life (1873 – 1915), she managed to paint 300 pictures, a hundred sketches, and several watercolors.

The main characteristic of Nadežda’s art was that she painted people as realistically as possible. She often painted the Serbian people and country without making them better than they are.

In addition to painting and teaching, she was also engaged in humanitarian work. She worked as a nurse during the wars. At that time, there was a typhus epidemic, which did not spare Nadežda either.

#3 Famous Serbian Women: Isidora Sekulić

Isidora (1877-1958) was a Serbian writer.

It is very significant that she was the first woman to become a member of SANUSrpska akademija nauka i umetnosti (= Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts).

She was not only a writer but also worked as a translator, lecturer, and interpreter of literary works.

Some of her most famous works are Pisma iz Norveške (= Letters from Norway), Đakon Bogorodičine crkve (= The Deacon of the Church of the Virgin Mary), Hronika palanačkog groblja (= Chronicle of the Palanic Cemetery).

During her life, she received numerous awards and recognitions.

#4 Famous Serbian Women: Desanka Maksimović

Desanka (1898 – 1993) is one of the most famous Serbian poets. 

She also worked as a professor of literature.

famous serbian women desanka maksimovic
Source: Oseti Srbiju

Like Isidora Sekulić, she was a member of SANU and winner of many awards and recognitions.

It is not surprising that many consider her one of the most important Serbian poets.

She mostly wrote about love and kindness. Her songs encourage people to be noble and to be understanding of other people’s differences.

We suggest you read at least one of her poems. Some of the most famous ones are Strepnja (= Quivering), Čežnja (= Longing), Tražim pomilovanje (= I am Seeking a Pardon). The poem Krvava bajka (= Bloody Tale) is a heartbreaking poem about the Second World War massacre performed by German forces on high school students in Kragujevac.

#5 Famous Serbian Women: Mileva Marić

Mileva (1875 – 1948) was a Serbian physicist and mathematician.

However, she is most famous for being the wife of Albert Einstein, which, we have to admit, is quite unfair. 

Mileva was extremely educated. It is believed that she worked together with her husband on many of his discoveries.

Einstein and Mileva were in the same class, and Mileva was one of only four women allowed to study technical sciences.

Physicist Abram Joffe once said that he had seen papers on the theory of relativity signed by Marić-Einstein.

#6 Famous Serbian Women: Draga Ljočić

Draga (1855 – 1926) was the first Serbian doctor and the first woman with a doctor’s degree in the Balkans.

famous serbian women draga ljocic
Source: Politika

In addition, she became the first female student in Belgrade and also studied in Zurich.

At the time when Draga graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Zurich, there were only ten women in Europe with that degree. 

At that time, studying was almost forbidden for women.

During the Serbian-Turkish wars, she paused her studies and applied as a charity nurse.

She helped to build a hospital for women and children in Dedinje, a neighborhood in Belgrade. Draga was a great philanthropist and protector of children.

But her work does not end there.

She advocated equality between men and women and women’s suffrage.

It is also believed that Draga was responsible for women choosing to study medicine after her.

She brought up her five daughters in the same manner, and one of the daughters took the path of medicine like her mother.

#7 Famous Serbian Women: Milunka Savić

Milunka (1890 or 1892 – 1973) was a Serbian heroine who participated in the Balkan Wars and the First World War.

In the history of warfare, she is known as the most decorated woman. 

Her courage was so great that she was called the Serbian Joan of Arc.

Although very beautiful and of marriageable age, she was not interested in getting married.

Milunka applied for the call for mobilization under the male name Milun.

As a member of the elite Iron Regiment, she especially stood out in the battles of Kolubara and Kajmakčalan. She captured 23 Bulgarian soldiers.

Milunka Savić is the only woman in the world who has been awarded the French War Cross with the Palme d’Or.

After demobilization, she worked as a cleaner at Hipotekarna banka

It is interesting that, due to her ability, the salary she received at that time was equal to the salary of a doctor.

During her lifetime, Milunka continued to engage in humanitarian work.

#8 Famous Serbian Women: Vera Pešić

Another famous Serbian woman who made her way in a man’s world was Vera Pešić (1919 – 1944).

Vera was famous for her beauty, but she was also a quadruple agent.

famous serbian women vera pesic
Source: Vreme

She was given the task of joining the network of British, French, and German intelligence services as a spy.

Many called her the Serbian Mata Hari.

She was actually not the only Serbian female spy, but many people considered her the most interesting one.

The combination of intelligence, ability, ambition, and beauty made her an intriguing phenomenon.

There are reports that people accused her of working for the communists, communists accused her of working for the Chetniks, while the Germans suspected that she worked for both sides.

However, there is no clear historical evidence.

She was shot at only 25 years old.

Today there are two books and a movie about this more than interesting spy.

In the film about Vera, actress Jovana Stojiljković says: “I’m on my side and I don’t think anyone knows which side is right.’’


You can probably conclude for yourself what mark these incredible women leave.

You could make a movie or write a book about almost all of them!

Even though the world was more favorable to men in their time, they managed to go their own way, and each of them made a significant contribution in their respective fields.

This is exactly why they found their place in Serbian culture and history.

If you want to learn more about the rich Serbian culture and start learning the Serbian language, you can start today with the Serbian online course!