Jelisaveta Nacic was a notable Serbian architect. She is remembered as a pioneer who inspired women to enter professions which had earlier been reserved for men. She was not only the first female graduate in architecture from Belgrade in 1896, she was also the first female architect in Serbia.
She went on to study architecture at the University of Belgrade's School of Architecture at a time when it was felt that women should not enter the profession. At the age of 22, she was the first woman to graduate from the Faculty of Engineering. She sought employment at the Ministry of Construction but was unable to become an official as there was a requirement for military service to have been completed. She did however succeed in gaining a position as an architect with the Municipality of Belgrade where she became the city's first chief architect. In 1903, she designed the Little Staircase in Belgrade's Kalemegdan Park. Her most notable work is the well proportioned school building she completed in 1906, now known as the Elementary School King Petar I. She also designed churches including the Moravian-styled Alexander Nevsky Church (1929) in Belgrade and a smaller church in Kosovo. The hospital she designed was destroyed during the Second World War but many of her residential buildings from apartments to distinctive private homes, some with art nouveau or Neo-Renaissance elements, still stand today.
During the WWI Jelisaveta was imprisoned in a camp in Hungary, and that is where she met her future husband, Albanian intellectual Luka Lukai. After their release from imprisonment they moved to Shkoder (Albania), where they both participated in organising guerilla warfare for "freedom of Albania". After failure of their plans, they moved to Dubrovnik (Croatia). Jelisaveta never worked as an architect again and she dedicated herself to raising her daughter. She died in Dubrovnik in 1955.
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