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article imageTrip Down Memory Lane: Subotica (Part I)

By Tea Lulic     Jul 22, 2007 in Travel
Subotica is a town in former Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. It is located close to the Hungarian border and thus, the population consists of Hungarians, Serbians and Croatians.
It is the largest second city in Vojvodina after Novi Sad, with a population of about 147,758 people. However, the word large in the previous sentence might be seen as an overestimation because many things in this small city are a walking distance. One does not need a car to get around the city and that is why many people living in this town prefer bicycles or walking to get around.
Filled with famous and unique infrastructure and fabulous parks, Subotica is one of the most beautiful cities in Serbia. Its summers consist of warm days, with temperatures nowadays ranging in the 50 degrees Celsius. Winters can be cold but nothing compared to Toronto - long walks in the snow are something people of this small town enjoy.
Its name appears in written sources in 1391 as "Zabadka". This is a variant for the current Hungarian name of the city - "Szabadka", which comes from the Hungarian word "szabad" or "free". Thus, in Hungarian, the name of this town would mean a "free place". In Croatian and Serbian, the word "Subota" means "Saturday" or "Sabbath" and thus, Subotica would mean "little Saturday."
Subotica is really unique for its art. Most of its buildings are built in art nouveau style. It is hard to pick out the most beautiful building in the center of the city. However, many people say that the City Hall and the Synagogue possess the most outstanding beauty. The town centre represents the aficionados of secessionist architecture.
The centre-piece of Subotica is the extravagantly decorated and turreted City Hall (seen on the right) which was built in 1910. Enthusiasts would call it "unusually imaginative" while the detractors "gaudy and tasteless." Nevertheless, this majestic structure was built in Hungarian style art nouveau and nowadays, accommodates the museum, the municipal administration, historical arhives but also boutiques and banks in its basement.
The Synagogue was built in 1901 and it is decorated by multi-coloured stained glass windows, representing stylised petals of carnation, rose, lily and peacock feather. It also consists of a tall, central, eight-sided dome, whose roof is patterned with multi-coloured tiles. Each dome is topped by a star of David. The cream stucco outer walls are edged in red brick or unglazed terracotta tiles produced in the Zsolnay factory in Pecs. The Synagogue also consists of both concrete and steel construction (this was not a common technique until later in the 20th century).
Both, the Synagogue and the City Hall were built by two Budapest born architects, Marcell Komor and Desző Jakab in the 20th century.
Furthermore, mentioned above was the Zsolnay factory in Pecs, which also designed and built the two fountains that lie in the center of the city. These two fountains lie opposite of each other, around the City Hall. The green fountain is much older than the recently built blue one but both of these are very unique since they were built out of ceramics.
Right across the City Hall is the National Theatre which was built in 1854. It is the work of János Scultety, who was the first educated architect from Subotica. In the front, National Theatre consists of six Corinthian columns. Its calm, classicist lines make it easily recognizable.
Moreover, the public library can be found to the left of the National Theatre. It was built in 1896 and it is also called the Raichle Palace (architect that built it was called Ferenc Raichle). Today, it is a home to over 280,000 books and it also consists of an art gallery. Uniquely structured, its infrastructure consists of the two atlas which support the baroque balcony.
Besides the fabulous architecture, Subotica consists of many parks. Different kinds of flowers can be found all over the city, while big trees, planted on each side of the city centre street, create shade during the warm summer months.
Furthermore, very close to the center of the city (about a 15 minute walk) is a Mulberry Forest, which athletes regularly use. Tennis club "Spartak" can be found deep within the forest and it consists of ten clay courts and two indoor (clay) courts. This is where Monica Seles started playing when she was young. Mulberry Forest also has a playground and a swimming pool, used by waterpolo and swim athletes.
However, Subotica is the only town in Serbia where you will find such unique architecture. Looking at these pictures brings back good memories of the town I grew up in.
Websites Used: Vojvodina
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