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Practically located on Serbia’s northern border with Hungary, calling Subotica a unique city is as much an understatement as calling a lemon yellow. There is as much Magyar influence as there is Slavic, and that is displayed in a stunning mosaic of sights and sounds that is difficult to match.
The word ‘masterpiece’ likely gets thrown around a little too freely in the modern age, but that adjective is practically an understatement when it comes to Subotica’s magnificent City Hall. The finest example of Art Nouveau architecture in the country, it was completed in 1912 and has dominated proceedings ever since. If you only photograph one thing in Subotica then you must have lost your finger – but if so, it’ll likely be this.
It might not be as fantastic as the City Hall in the Art Nouveau stakes, but Subotica’s synagogue backs up its delightful aesthetics with no small amount of history and importance. The design of the building is unique in the region, its steel frame giving the architects a little more creative freedom when it came to filling out the skeleton, which they more than took advantage of. Tours can be arranged via Subotica’s tourist office in the city centre.
The museums and galleries of Serbia might not house the incredible treasures of yesterday, but the settings themselves are still rather marvellous. The Raichle Palace is home to Subotica’s Museum of Modern Art, and while that is an enjoyable afternoon in itself it is the building that will turn heads the most. This is architectural decadence at its best, with Arabesque motifs sitting alongside more traditional regional methods. There is art inside but the real art is seen from the outside.
Flea markets in the Balkans aren’t really as romantic as some would like you to believe. More often than not, these eye-watering early events are a haven for those looking for random car parts or questionable pornography, with broken electronics and bewildering taxidermy taking up the rest of the space.
Subotica’s flea market is located a couple of kilometres west of the city, and while it follows much of the regional norm it can still act as a fascinating study in the purchasing desires of the locals. Just don’t expect to see rows of typewriters and long forgotten gems — expect vinyl with hilarious covers.
As much of a day trip as a city sight, Lake Palić is the summer getaway of choice for most people living in Subotica. Located in an old affluent suburb, the lake may have seen better days but that doesn’t mean sitting by an expanse of water with a beer in hand is any less enjoyable just because the pier is broken. There are plenty of activities to be enjoyed at the lake, although you may prefer to laze on its shore instead. It’s a win-win, in truth.
Subotica’s location means the food on its restaurant’s menus is a little different to what you’ll find in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš and the rest. The Hungarian influence is clear for all to see, and the Serbian love for simplicity means some of the more extravagant tendencies of Magyar cooking are tempered. What you’re left with is a delectable middle ground, and who doesn’t want that?
Another house of culture that is arguably more impressive from the outside than inside, the City Museum tells the story of Subotica from its founding all the way to the modern day. It is another architectural marvel however, a palace that once housed a printing company long before it did a municipal museum. That facade is covered in all manners of quirks, each more interesting than the last.
Subotica’s Roman Catholic Cathedral lends its considerable weight behind the argument of Subotica being Serbia’s architectural gem. A delightful example of late Baroque design, the church was completed in 1779 and has wowed worshippers ever since. It has been renovated a number of times since, but the original inspiring of awe still rings true. A bust of Czech cinematographer Aleksandar Lifka is in front of the church – the great man spent the majority of his adult life in the city.
As the name suggests, this place is as much a hangout for local creatives as it is a spot to show off their work. While it sometimes dips a little too far into pretentiousness, when it stays on the safe side of the line it is the most invigorating centre in all of Subotica. If you’re looking for the town’s creative heart, look no further.