Last minute Subotica

Karpatt, Pensez à demain (Think about tomorrow). From the album Sur le quai (2011).

Our trip to Subotica/Szabadka, Serbia, scheduled for March 15-16 is last minute not only because, due to a prolonged flu, I could organize and announce it just now, ten days before the event. But also because maybe this is the last moment that we can see still intact the city center of Subotica, the cradle of Hungarian Art Nouveau, as it thrived during the prosperity of the turn of the century, and was then stiffened in 1920 into a Sleeping Beauty’s dream by the new border which, annexing it to Yugoslavia, cut off all its traditional connections.

It has been rumored for a long while that the municipality of Subotica wants to destroy a large part of the historical city center to build shopping malls in their place. The demolition has already started with the prestigious People’s Theatre in the main square, two beautiful palaces of Ferenc J. Raichle, the creator of Art Nouveau in Subotica, and many other buildings, whose places are now occupied by concrete monsters, abandoned because of the crisis. However, in the autumn of 2012 the municipality proposed a new plan of urbanization, which would break down not less than 1063 buildings in the historical city center, virtually destroying the city’s complete Art Nouveau architectural heritage.

That was – this became. The People’s Theatre in the main square

Our earlier posts on Subotica:
Exhibition: Art Nouveau in Subotica
Globetrotters in and of Subotica
The railway station of Subotica: So ugly that already disgusting
Spaniards, Bulgarians, Turks…
…Chinese, American Natives and Russian conspirators in Subotica
However, we do not go to bury to Subotica, but to discover the rich architectural heritage of a dynamically developing, vibrant city of the turn of the century, as well as the history standing behind this heritage. Starting from the main square, we will walk from house to house in the Art Nouveau and eclectic district, explore the city’s social structure, the spatial and social relationship of its many ethnic communities – Hungarians, Germans, Bunjevci, Serbs, Jews –, the development of the historical city center. We will visit the two most outstanding monuments, whose construction was committed with a good sense by the ambitious city leadership to two excellent Art Nouveau architects, Dezső Jakab and Marcell Komor: the synagogue (1908), which was definitely the most beautiful synagogue in contemporary Hungary, and the town hall (1912), which was also among the most beautiful Art Nouveau town halls of the country. We will visit the Art Nouveau in Subotica exhibition, already presented in Poemas del río Wang. And finally we will visit the famous fin-de-siècle resort at Palić/Palics, the Art Nouveau buildings along the Palić Lake, the last remnant of the ancient Pannonian Sea.

On 15, Friday morning at 7 we leave by minibus from Budapest. We get around 10-11 to Subotica. We log in to the hotel, and then go to our sightseeing tour. In the meantime we sit down for a short lunch in the Art Nouveau People’s Circle, or in the Serbian pastry shop against the synagogue, to lose the least sunlight time. At five o’clock we go to the exhibition, then free sightseeing.

On 16, Saturday we meet in the main square, which is in this day a wedding scene, with alternating Balkan brass bands and competing wedding guests, and especially with the town hall which is open to the public in this day. After the town hall we go over to the synagogue, and hence to the Palić Lake. In Palić we lunch in the lakeside restaurant, and from there we leave home.

The participation fee is 70 euros, which includes the travel from Budapest to Subotica and back, the accommodation with breakfast, and the guided tour. Single room supplement: 15 euros. Deadline of application: March 8, Friday.

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