I bet many of you haven’t heard about Subotica before. I have no idea how I learnt about this city, as I know maybe one person who have been there. Just somehow deep down in my mind I knew I have to go this Serbian city as some wonders might be hidden in there. When the opportunity came and I was planning my latest Balkans trip I managed to include Subotica in my itinerary. And that was the best decision ever as the city turned out to be just stunning and the art nouveau architecture there looks like from the fairy tale!
Subotica is the fifth biggest city in Serbia, located right at the border with Hungary. This results in the perfect mix of cultures, styles and languages that can be widely experienced on every step. Even if Subotica dates back to 6th or so century the city got its distinctive charm at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th centuries, when it was under the Austria-Hungary rule. That’s when the art nouveau style spread all over Europe and changed the look of numerous places, including this Serbian town. Subotica used to shine then! It was one of the biggest and most important cities in the region, most of the grand buildings come from that period, being a wonderful showcase of the place and a great welcome to Serbia for people coming from the north.
These days however only the incredible architecture is left from the golden days of Subotica. The city lost its significant position, now being just the sleepy border town. And I loved it, how the incredible past collides with the everyday reality of Central European province. I was in Subotica on gloomy Sunday morning, the city was really empty but still extremely charming. From the moment I steped outside of my hotel I loved it and I knew coming here was the best idea!
Subotica is mostly know for its art nouveau architecture but the city is yet another example of amazing Central European town and a great legacy to the Austria-Hungary past. Just like in Brno, Graz or Zagreb this place was also full of cobbled street, magnificent official buildings (such as the gymnasium), houses with beautiful details and red roof tiles and this unique bohemian vibe that is so hard to find elsewhere.
I had some 2 hours to explore Subotica before catching the train onwards to Budapest and I was so sure it’s more than enough to see the center of the town with all the important landmarks. Well, the reality proved me how wrong I was! Even if the place was fairly small the number of interesting buildings was outstanding! I marked on the map all the places I wanted to see and together they made a perfect walking tour around Subotica.
I could admire all the incredible places – the Synagogue with the toulips, carnations and peacock feathers details; the Domotor Palace, now home of the City Museum; the splendid City Hall in the heart of the center (with the McDonald’s restaurant on the ground floor, also designed in the art nouveau style); the former Golden Lamb Hotel and the former Subotica Saving Bank with symbols of squirrel, beehive or the owl on the facade. After seeing each of them I was falling in love more and more with the city.
But the true gem was waiting for me at the very end, few steps aways from the train station. Raichle Palace was built in 1904 to be a home and a design studio to the architect Ferenc Raichle. It’s outstanding with the incredible combination of vibrant colours and very rich details. I just couldn’t get my eyes out of it, couldn’t stop taking pictures, this building looked like taken from some Disney movie! These days the Raichle Palace serves at the Modern Art Gallery, I wish I could have visited it as I bet the place has an equally beautiful interior!
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Subotica was one of the most surprising places I’ve ever visited, it was just stunning! I’m really surprised that, even if it made it to the NY Times’ list of 52 places to go in 2014, still not that many people visit this Serbian city. Too bad as walking around and admiring the beautiful architecture is such a treat! I really wish I had more time to explore the city properly and visit the nearby Palic (with even more art nouveau pearls!) but I’m sure I will return there sooner or later as Subotica was a place that you just want to spend time in!
And if you happen to go there (highly recommended!) you might find my walking route useful!
Is Subotica a place you’d like to visit? What was the most surprising place you’ve visited? Do you like art nouveau architecture?
If you think of visiting Serbia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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