In the far north of Serbia, Subotica is a small multicultural city. Many cultures and customs from central and eastern Europe can be witnessed in this city. It is an ethnic fusion of Serbians, Hungarians, Yugoslavians, Croatians, and Jews living next to each other. The city of Subotica has a rich cultural, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and architectural heritage.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet1
The City of Subotica _©2011-2022 Fly Orient.

It has been proven that Subotica existed 3000 years ago based on archaeological discoveries. It was part of Romania before World War I, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Frsom its close proximity to Hungary, Budapest’s architecture, food, and ethnic mix are influenced in many ways.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet2
Geographic position of the City of Subotica_©Local sustainable development strategy of the city of Subotica 2013 – 2022.


The name Subotica was first used in 1653 to refer to a small town that emerged on Saturdays. Subotica is derived from a Serbian-Croatian word meaning “Saturday”. Several sources say that Subotica was named after Subota vrlić, who ruled Subotica in the 16th century. Many stories encircle Subotica, resulting from the fusion of many cultures merging into one. According to chronological archives, Subotica first appeared as Zabatka in 1391, henceforth taking on the name Szabadka, which emanates from the Slavic word Szabad, meaning “free”. Subotica’s old title signifies something like a place where you can be free. Three languages have been used to name the city, all with the same meaning. The Slovak word is subotica, the Russian word is Суботицa, and the Romanian word is subotiţa. Therefore, it’s a city of individual liberty.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet3
Subotica tram system on a postcard from 1914_©private collection of Wolfgang Sauber (Xenophon)


Over the centuries, Subotica has been governed by many nations. Up to 200 names have been given to it over the centuries. Merchants, farmers, artists, and craftspeople settled in the country from Central Europe and the surrounding regions. Rail links upgraded exchange in the city during the 19th century, helping to boost its economy. By the end of the 19th century, Subotica had become a modern municipality. After World War I, it united with the Kingdom of Serbians, Croatians, and Yugoslavians. Subotica has beautifully crafted surroundings and broad cuisine and entertainment options. Although the city’s ethnic-themed restaurants and bars reminisce about its Central European demographics, it has a very European feel. This culturally eclectic, multi-ethnic city exhibits a pure “Hungarian Secession” style, with influences of German neoclassicism and Belgian and French Art Deco, making it one of Europe’s most renowned Art Nouveau tourist attractions. As a result of adopting a multicultural practice, the city intends to promote communication, engagement, and commerce among people from around the world and enhance cooperation between them. Besides improving odds and respecting cultural diversity, the multicultural practice enables neighbourhood exuberance and electoral evolutions. Therefore, cultural boundaries are not a perpetual class but a phase of continuously evolving art.


Subotica is known for its open-minded city, full of possibilities. Over the past 150 years, it has been a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Yugoslavia and its successor nations, and now Serbia. The town’s main appeal now is its well-maintained craftsmanship. Road links leading out of the city connect thousands of people of many ethnicities and religions, migrants and refugees, family members, and mixed marriages to Hungary, Romania, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet4
Ethnic map of the Subotica municipality, 2002 census_ ©Panonian

The world’s population report says it is one of Subotica’s most culturally diverse towns, with 83% Serbs, 3.5% Hungarians, 450,000 Roma and 145,000 Bosniaks. Other minorities include Slovakians, Croatians, Albanians, Romanians, and Bulgarians.


According to the world population report for Serbia, the country has a high religious diversity of 84.59%, a Catholic population of 4.97%, and a Protestant population of 0.99%. There are 3.10% Muslims in the country, and the remainder is non-religious. Due to this vast majority, the government does not have a state language, and ethnic inequality is not tolerated.


In Subotica, young people between the ages of 14 and 18 are equipped with creative arts and activities to assist in their career progress. Instead of limiting themselves to pubs and dancing clubs, they were able to gain a broad understanding of everything the city has to offer, from diversity to intercultural knowledge. The “Interetno Festival” was established as part of a government program in 2002. It is a classical music and dance event, showcasing the performances of national cultures that still thrive in a more diversified and personalized global ambience while promoting folklore and folk art. The event continues to feature performances from all over the world, including Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, Northern Cyprus, Serbia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. 

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet5
The 21st Interetno Festival_ ©Vojvodina uživo

In conjunction with the festival, events will be held in Etnopolis, the public square directly in front of City Hall. More than 20,000 participants will have the opportunity to experience life as global citizens over five days. The replica card of the ‘Republic of Etnopolis’ contains information about the event, which conveys the spirit of inclusivity and acceptance. The government’s Club 21 – for Positive Communication initiative encourages youngsters to become more active through sports, mainly table tennis, in a social environment with teaching staff supervision between 8 p.m. and midnight.


Two foremost architects of Subotica, Marcel Komor and Dezsó Jakab, have contributed significantly to shaping Subotica’s architecture with intercultural influences. These individuals were followers and students of the architect responsible for the Hungarian version of the Art Nouveau movement. Both architects formed a partnership in 1897, and a studio was opened in Budapest. Between 1917 and 1918, the two architects designed structures throughout Hungary. Marcell was primarily responsible for the concept, organization, and construction of the facilities, whereas Dezsó was responsible for the interior design and carefully designed every aspect of the building. Despite their lack of extensive work in Subotica, each of their structures became symbols: the synagogue, the Subotica Savings Bank Palace, City Hall, and a complex of buildings in Pali – the water tower, the women’s lido, and the memorial fountain.


The Art Nouveau style was prevalent throughout Europe between 1890 and 1910. It was popular then to use designs and curves inspired by nature. In the period, ornamental and craft-based arts endeavoured to increase their importance, which was highlighted by floral themes and geometric patterns. In contrast with the conventional approaches of European art institutions, supporters of Art Nouveau developed distinct groups of works. The Art Nouveau style inspired many spin-offs throughout Europe, including the Hungarian Secession style, which combines new art with classical Hungarian architecture. In modern times, Subotica is recognized for its unique and enchanting architectural style.

Subotica is known for its Hungarian architecture, The development of art, technology, and lifestyle took place in Subotica via Budapest at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At the height of its architectural expression, Subotica enjoyed a period of economic prosperity and harmony. Subotica’s architecture eventually grew out of stories that began in Europe but proceeded in two directions. While one flow was drawn to European capitals like Germany, Austria, France, and London, the other, the more powerful, was drawn to the native Hungarian interpretation of Art Nouveau-Modernism. The city is mainly dominated by European architecture, but there are a few notable structures because of their design, size, and purpose. A few of these structures are City Hall, the Synagogue, the Raichle’s Palace, banks, etc.

THE CITY HALL (Gradska Kuća)

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet6
The City Hall is a symbol of Subotica_ ©Kovács Attila

The city hall is an iconic landmark in the centre of Subotica, containing 6000 sq.m of floor area and 16000 sq.m of built-up space. It was designed by Marcell Komor and Dezs Jakab, two well-known architects from Budapest. The city hall has a symmetrical layout with 4 inner courtyards and 4 entrances. The north side of the building, where the main entrance is, has a 76 m tall tower, a beautiful park, and blue fountains. It has three grand halls, some of which are used for mayors’ offices, official meetings, concerts, weddings, and other formal events. It contains municipal offices, public services, historical artefacts, banks, and shops. Although its aesthetics, fusion of art styles and construction and painting are many of the most striking aspects of the building, its elegant ornamentation leaves tourists in awe. The embellishment here is decorated with a subtle whimsy interpretation of Hungarian folklore, depicted in floral patterns, intricate ceramics, and wrought iron jewellery. This building has decorative woodwork, antique brass fixtures, chandeliers, and porcelain tiles that add to its aesthetics and grandeur.

The City Hall of Subotica – interior corridors _©Želijko Vukelić


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet8
The synagogue ©Ivan Nemet, Shutterstock

The synagogue was built in 1901-1902 by Marcell Komor and Dezsó Jakab (the same architects who designed the city hall). In 1990, the Republic of Serbia nominated it as a memorial of a culture of exceptional significance, making it the second-largest temple in Europe. This building is characterized by its massive dome, which is supported by eight steel columns. Light concrete is used for the dome’s interior construction, an unusual shell-construction method. The roof is covered with ceramic tiles. Several theatre events were held at the synagogue at the end of the 18th century.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet9
Detail view of rose window of synagogue_ ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet10
altar _ ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet11
Both the façade and the interior exhibit floral decorations such as peacock feathers, tulips, stylized roses, and lilies. ©2019


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet12
The Ferenc Raichile’s Palace ©Otto Maderdonner

Architect Raichle Ferenc built Raichle’s Palace as his residence and office in Subotica. This Palace was designed to meet his individual needs and tastes by rejecting all current conventions and styles of architectural ornamentation. It does not have the typical shape of a Palace, but it has an impressive entrance painted in neutral colours that blend in with the surrounding. An inverted heart forms the entrance facade, which recedes into the Palace’s interior. As the architect wanted his idea “as he desired,” in the shape of a heart, he incorporated it into the entrance gate design. He followed it with a baluster comprising heart motifs.The Palace’s ground floor contained offices. On the first floor of the Palace, banquets and ballrooms were located. During that period, the living room, bedrooms, and family rooms were influenced by avant-garde Turkish design. Four years after moving to this Palace, Raichle became bankrupt and could only enjoy a little of his home. The Palace was later auctioned off to the Serbian government. Now, this is a gallery exhibiting modern Subotica art. 

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet13
Main gate with heart shape ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet14
Balusters containing heart motif’s ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet15
ceilings decorated with floral motifs ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet16
interiors_ ©2022 sailingstone press LLC


Subotica savings bank’s palace was designed in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style by Marcell Komor and Dezsó Jakab in 1907. Located on the main street, the bank was one of the most well-known. Increasing tourist traffic has led to a growth in these locations’ popularity, and the bank was relocated to the upper floors, and cafes, restaurants, and shops occupied the ground floors. The exterior facade of the building is adorned with ceramic elements inspired by folk art motifs and stone carvings. By looking at its symbols, it is obvious what the building’s primary purpose is: a squirrel denotes diligence, a beehive indicates thrift, and an owl signifies wisdom.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet18
Subotics savings bank palace_ ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet19
There is a sense of balance in every component, decorative element, and colour_©2019

According to Hungarian avant-garde artisans, industrialization destroys beauty, and art should communicate one’s identity; in Subotica and Palic, many architects and artisans designed and built art nouveau structures that remain just as stunning, captivating, and alluring today as they were decades ago. Hungarian Art Nouveau introduced a distinct and attractive architectural language by exploring folklore art and vernacular architecture. It was only with the involvement of architects from Budapest and other places that Subotica’s architecture was shaped by the urban ambience of the latest architectural trends, despite all of the local professionals’ abilities, expertise, and experience.


The city of Subotica respects the cultural values of its residents. Monuments representing each ethnic group’s cultural heritage are unique to that group. These monuments remind the town of its commitment to preserving cultural diversity and honouring its multicultural population. The memorials also symbolise to all residents that Subotica is a place of inclusivity and acceptance, where each ethnic group is valued for their unique heritage and culture. The most famous is the memorial of Dezsó kosztolanyi, an unknown plumber, and the chapel of St. Roka.


The monument is dedicated to famous Hungarian writers and journalists of the 20th century. It was installed in recognition of the revolutionary nature of the artist and his determination to portray fire in his work. His writings have been transliterated into many European languages. Six columns surround the sculpture, in keeping with its natural size and significance in an academic environment.

An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet20
Monument of Dezső Kosztolányi _©2019


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet21
Monument of unknown plumber_ ©2019


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet22
kapela sv. Roka u Subotici_ ©2019


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet23
Gallery Dr. Vinko Perčić_ ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet25
Franciscan monastery and church _©2019


An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet26
The Grand Terrace – Palić – congress centre_ ©2019
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet27
The Grand Terrace – Palić – roof detail_ ©2022 sailingstone press LLC
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet28
With a folk art influence wooden building, the building allows women to swim in privacy – women’s lido_ ©2022 sailingstone press LLC
An architectural review of location: Subotica - Sheet29
The Women’s Lido – Palić – congress centre_ ©2019
József Roznovsky Tenement Palace designed Titus Mačković (subotican architect)

 The facades were inspired by both Vienna Modernism and Darmstadt Art Nouveau, though not exactly, but influenced by the work of the Vágó brothers from Budapest.© 2019


Serbia Population 2023 (Live) Available at: (Accessed: February 16, 2023).

Intercultural Profile (2011) Available at: (Accessed: February 16, 2023).

Visit subotica (2019) Visit Subotica. Turistička organizacija Grada Subotice. Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Tourist organization of the city of Subotica (2020) “Art Nouveau road,” PUT SECESIJE ART NOUVEAU ROUTE. Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Labs, A. (2022) The history and architecture of subotica synagogue, World Monuments Fund. Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Soldo, B. (2022) Subotica, the art Nouveau city, Capturing Our Days. Brigita Soldo. Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Bukta, I. (2020) 17 things to do in subotica, Serbia’s magical art Nouveau escape, Sofia Adventures. Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Aladžić, V. (2013) From Local to Cosmopolitan: Art Nouveau in Subotica -Szabadka 1, Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).

Zambo, L. (2020) The regimes of Art Nouveau architectural heritage in the Carpathian basin, Lilla Zámbó (EAUH 2018), Available at: (Accessed: February 18, 2023).