Subotica is located … blah, blah. There are so many people … blah, blah. As the wind blows in the branches … blah, blah … Some people come here only to watch the Hungarian secession … I didn’t.
I just wanted to go to Suboticaand eat Negro candy. Why? Because what “Saher” cake is for Vienna, “Žerbo” cubes are for Pest, “Negro” candy are for Subotica, which are produced by the same recipe for almost a century. From the Ruf brothers’ workshop, “Mentol” came out in 1917, and “Negro” in 1928. It’s not that I really love them but when you are in Subotica…
They were first produced by the widow Serena Ruf who, thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit, managed to lift the small manufacture to a factory level in just ten years.
In that time the candies were packed manually into tin boxes and were unique in their refreshing combination of the lacriques and mint plants. Their ability to color the tongue is an occurrence that additionally entertains all those who are less than five years old.
And so, as my tongue touches my third candy, I have something to see. Hungarian secession in its best edition.
Most of the buildings were designed by a pair of Hungarian architects Marcel Comor and Deze Jakab, and among their works are the Town Hall, Synagogue, Palić Water Tower and many other facilities.
The Reich’s palace was erected in 1903 under the Ferenc Rajhl project. The architect deliberately placed it near the train station because he wanted everyone to see it. The whole of the building dominates the motif of a stylized heart. The façade is made from Žolnai ceramics. The owner went bankrupt and went with his family to Hungary and now the palace has been turned into the city museum.
The city hall in Subotica dominates the city and was built from 1908 to 1910, it is a mix of secession and Hungarian folklore. When the project was presented, the public rebelled, the general opinion was that it was too gaudy. It is not known how the architects secured the victory for their project, but the City Hall is to our joy here in all its splendor and beauty…
The most iconic detail on the City Hall is the tower which has clocks that represent all four sides of the world. It was intended to be like the Metropolitan, to tick every quarter and full hour. The clock dial is illuminated so it can be seen at night. Under the tower, weddings are held.
The City Hall can be visited if you make a phone call. I wanted to check first whether I could go through the palace at all. It’s best to do it with a daring portrait clerk.
And so, my mother comes in with a camera hanging around her neck… She never accepted the phone as a means of taking photos… ‘The devil’s work’, she says. If it was, then nothing like this would have happened… And so, my mother, with her musical voice from the school in Vienna, which my grandfather a professor injected into her DNA long before my birth, she begins talking with the clerk:
– Good day
– Good day
– I’m sorry to ask you, but is the City Hall accessible for the disabled?
A blank look…… doesn’t understand the question
– I see you have an elevator, can I come in and take a look at it? I need to check if a wheelchair can get inside…
The blank look falls on the camera …… and then a grain of reason appears in his eyes
– Ah you are tourists … You can’t enter you need to make an appointment
– Well, I want to make an appointment, but first I need to look at the elevator…
– No way…… How do I know if you won’t to just look at the elevator!
During our ‘discussion’ a river of people enters and exits from that elevator normally, but due to our old-fashioned camera that reveals our “evil intentions” we remain stuck in place at the mercy of a daring portrait clerk.
– Ok, can I give you my ID card, just to look at the elevator? – said the persistent Viennese school.
– Why should I, prey tell?
– You don’t have an appointment!
– I need to make an appointment in order to check the elevator?
The blank look that he gave us was blurred because the answer surpassed his mental functions.
– Ok, can I schedule an appointment?
– No! We’re closed!
And that’s why I can’t say anything about the interior of the City Hall, but that is why there is a place with a characteristic name in front of which I would like to send this gullible portrait clerk, and that is the Monkeys Lot that is circled by a wrought iron fence, located in front of the City Hall.
This was a popular youth gathering place, a place where you were going to be seen. People usually came here in about five in the afternoon or the lot was full. How the plot got it’s name I could not find anywhere, It was probably named by the locals in a fit of good humor. Today, the monkey’s plot only serves for a man to lean on when he is tired of walking if the benches are not free.
Around the Town Hall, is a square dominated by the Blue Fountain, which is coated with Zolnai Ceramics.
There is also a monument of the Holy Trinity (or Pillar of Plague) in the square.
The main street in Subotica is Korzo. The name of this street has been changed through history. They say that at the time the people were wearing folk costumes, the Corso street had more gold in it than there was in the bank of the city. Those walks were performed on Sunday after Mass. The girls moved silently into a street known as Little Corso, so that curious parents do not see them.
The library in Subotica has existed since 1890. The building has been designed by the already mentioned Rajhl, it served as a casino or Cultural Center, a ballroom, an officer’s home, and finally a library as it is today. It is recognizable by the two statues of Atlas that adhere to the terrace on the main facade.
Subotica’s Synagogue is the most beautiful Synagogue in Serbia. In past times, the Synagogue was built in a rather avant-garde style, thanks to the courageous decision of the Jewish community that was large, rich and very influential before the war.
It was built between 1901 and 1903 and, at the time of construction it was the second largest in the world, and today is the second in Europe behind the synagogue in Budapest.
Another trademark of Subotica is a famous theater that had a very rich past and it even starred in several Hollywood films.
It was lucky that the scaffolds were removed so it was possible to take pictures of it’s best side. For this building, there is a story about a student of economics who was trying to seduce one of his female colleagues.
She scheduled a meeting with him near the seventh pillar of the National Theater at a certain time. The young man waited and waited, until somebody pointed out to him that the seventh pillar did not exist.
As a result, he drank a whole bucket of Vine to ease the pain.
It also must be mentioned that Subotica at one point in history had its own emperor. The emperor’s name was Jovan Nenad Black.
He appeared after the defeat of Ugar’s at Mohac at the beginning of the 16th century, when he managed to take away the parts of Backa, Srem and Banat from the Turks, and he established his country, which he soon proclaimed to be his empire, and himself a king, and Subotica the capital of that empire.
It didn’t last long…
His empire was overwhelmed by greater powers. But Subotica still regardes him as a symbol of resistance to the conquerors who were here.
The Palace of the Savings Bank of Subotica and its surroundings is one of the most picturesque buildings on Korzo. The decorations that appear here, and which can be seen elsewhere, is a hive which is a symbol of savings and which has a logical place here since it is a savings house building. Then there are peacock feathers, vines, carnations…
At the site of the fortress that was built by Sibinjanin Janko in 1439, now there is a Franciscan monastery. Within this monastery was opened the first primary school, and then the first gymnasium in Subotica.
Subotica bloomed during the rule of Mary Theresa, She needed money, Subotica used it. Under different names, the city was part of the Habsburg monarchy and later Austro-Hungary until the end of World War I, and the centuries spent under the flag of the strongest Central European forces are still felt today.
And so, as I walked through the city, I intended to eat the famous Louis Cake that was designed by a local pastry cook. Namely, at that time in the National Theater, was a famous Hungarian artist who was 14 years old, fell in love with the older boss of the orchestra. They were married in Subotica and the groom wanted to honor his musical Hungarian bride with a cake, new and invented in her honor. The only thing he knew to say is that the young woman loves raspberry jam and that her favorite color is pink. Thanks to the playful imagination of Subotica’s pastry cook, the famous Louis Cake was created, which was later served throughout Europe. Unfortunately I did not find the cake, but I sweetened my tooth with ice cream in the oldest confectionery in the city.
Subotica per square centimeter has more history than it needs, and just because it has experienced and survived, it keeps what it has: silence, dignity and people. All those who are local to Subotica agree that they once lived better, everyone says that the Bačka lunch has a “line of its own logic” and that nothing is as important as a thick chain for a bike.
And so if you “don’t want to be in Subotica,” you will make a big mistake.
Traveled and enjoyed, Marko Veličković.