When the conversation turns to the prettiest towns in Serbia, Sombor absolutely must be a part of it. The famous city in Vojvodina is home to some of the most impressive architecture in the country, along with truly tangible culture. What is there to do in Sombor? Plenty, to say the least.
Serbia is a country full of famous paintings, but few are as celebrated as this enormous work by Franz Eisenhut. It is the biggest of its kind in the country, reason enough to pay it special attention, but the battle depicted is the real pull. The Battle of Senta was one of the most decisive defeats inflicted upon the Ottoman Empire, putting a stop to its European advances. If the painting itself doesn’t impress you, the magnificent gold-plated frame surely will.
Sombor is a town of true historical importance in the region, and in 1786 it was declared the administrative centre of the Bačka-Bodrog district. A tremendous assembly building was required, and by 1808 that house was completed. The facade was renovated in 1882, and it remains the most impressive building in a town full of the things.
Towns in Serbia don’t come much more relaxed than Sombor, and that agreeable atmosphere is best experienced on the city’s main pedestrian drag. Kralja Petra I is the name of the street, although you’ll know when you are there because of all the people. It is something of a giveaway. The street is full of shops and cafes, and it showcases Sombor at its most charming.
Sombor has been home to many prominent individuals over the years, and a number of these are honoured with unique statues around the city. Head down the main street and you’ll find Laza Kostić hanging out just outside the library, while Ernest Bošnjak is busy shooting a movie opposite the town hall. Kostić was a Serbian poet who was widely considered to be one of the most creative Serbs in history, while Bošnjak was a Sombor-born director who founded filmography in the region.
The National Theatre in Sombor is another outstanding example of classical architecture, and it still entertains culture vultures today, The first performance came way back in 1882, and it has been an integral part of the nation’s theatre scene ever since. The best time to visit is undoubtedly at the end of the season, when the Theatrical Marathon takes place. Sombor’s theatre has a reputation for being one of the best in the country, so make a point to check that out for yourself.
Built in 1838, the Milan Konjović Gallery is one of the best spots in town for contemporary art. Konjović is among the finest creatives among the contemporary generation, and more than 500 pieces of his work can be found at the gallery in his hometown that takes his name. Konjović was wildly productive, creating over 6,000 works of art during his long and illustrious career. Be sure to check out the collection of his best work.
Sombor might be a multi-cultural town in Vojvodina, but this is still Serbia. That means pretty much every restaurant in town will be pumping out top quality fare, from traditional Balkan grills all the way to Hungarian dishes. The town is famous for its fish pies, with the best arguably found at Fijaker in the Park of Heroes. If you’re after a bit more meat, be sure to nip in to Stari Slon (The Old Elephant).
The history of Sombor is the history of a religiously open town, a place where different denominations could co-exist and flourish. This is seen in the varied religious architecture of the town today, and the city is full of cathedrals, monasteries, chapels and more. Each is slightly different from the last, but all are worth gazing at with a certain sense of awe. We’re not here to play favourites, but the Church of St. Stephen might just get our top vote.
A regional museum covering subjects as diverse as ethology, art and archaeology, Sombor’s City Museum is another excellent house of culture in Vojvodina. The library is full of some of the nation’s most important pieces of literature, from the 18th century all the way to the current day. The Contemporary Art Gallery may well be the main event however, with the Autumn of Art standing tall as its proudest celebration.
Serbia can be an oppressively hot place to be during summer, and those desperate for shade can do worse than head to Sombor. The city is known for having the most shade in the country, maybe even the region, and not a road or street seems to pass without a mass of overhanging trees. Some of these are in the process of being replanted, but Sombor remains the best place to cool off in Serbia.