The present meets the past as Mirjana meets Dragojla, Image: Dinko Neskusi

The present meets the past as Mirjana meets Dragojla Image: Dinko Neskusil

Tools learned on an IE CIG course were perfect to transport people to the past in Karlovac, Croatia, through the eyes of a special lady.

Following two courses (for two Croatian counties), I had the great pleasure and honour of taking part in the Interpret Europe Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course, held in Karlovac. The experience completely changed my perspective of the city where I live and it was such a memorable and educational experience. By the end of the course, our assignment was to come up with our own interpretive tour through the city – and so this tour, dedicated to Dragojla Jarnević, was born.

The tour takes us back to the 19th century and its centre of attention is Dragojla Jarnević, a self-taught woman who chose not to marry, opting for a more difficult yet more fulfilling kind of life. She supported herself from sewing, she wrote poems, and dramas, but her greatest achievement and legacy is her Diary – a great depiction of Karlovac in the 19th century, its people and social climate. She was a truly remarkable woman and one of the rare ones with a school and a street named in her honour, a mural painted over a building, and even a hiking route in Okić (Dragojla’s Trail) since she is considered to be the pioneer of climbing in Croatia. She was also one of few women who actively participated in the Illyrian Movement and she is included in the lithography, Men of the Illyrian Age – with only one other woman, the opera singer Sidonija Erdődy Rubido.

With all these achievements of Dragojla Jarnević, it was simply the moment to create a tour in her honour. Tools learned during the course came into good use, along with such generous help from my colleague tour guides, especially Maja Vidović who also studied Dragojla Jarnević’s Diary and had so much to say about her. With help from the Bastion Tourist Guide Association in Karlovac, Dragojla Jarnević was given another chance to come to life and walk the streets of Karlovac again, telling her stories and adventures – which is what she loved doing the most.

Mirjana Cibulka is a professor of English and Italian language and literature. She is from Karlovac, Croatia, where she works as an English teacher with the Karlovac University of Applied Sciences. Mirjana can be contacted at:

To cite this article: Cibulka, Mirjana  (2021) ‘A portrait of an independent 19th century woman’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2022, pg.10

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