The Synagogue in Subotica

One of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Europe.

By Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

The Synagogue is the first building in Subotica built with elements of the Hungarian variety of Art Nouveau, and, moreover, stands as the only place of worship with features of this style. It was designed by Marcel Komor and Dezsõ Jakab, architects from Budapest, and it is one of the most beautiful and exceptional synagogues in this part of Europe.

Sight from Bimah. Synagogue in Subotica. by Željko VukelićMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

Memorial plate in a lobby. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Memorial plate in a lobby. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The building is set on a spacious location on the corner of The Synagogue Square and Jakab and Komor square, and, in compliance with the predominant practices, it is separated and retracted from the street regulation lines. A call for proposals for the design of a new Synagogue in nearby Szeged (Hungary) was announced in 1889.  As Subotica already had its own plot for the construction of a new Synagogue in the very centre of the city, they observed the competition in Szeged carefully.

Synagogue in Subotica, interior., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Interior. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Synagogue in Subotica. Sight from choir-gallery above the Torah Ark., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Sight of main entrance from interior. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The first prize in Szeged was awarded to the great designer of many European Synagogue, Lipót Baumhorn, for a free-style design, while was awarded to Marcel Komor and Dezsõ Jakab. This team also participated in the call for proposals, submitting contemporarily formed Synagogue, envisaged in the modern style of Hungarian Art Nouveau.

Exterior, Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Subotica Synagogue., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Main entrance. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Synagogue in Subotica, the door., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The Municipality of Subotica immediately took over runner-up design, and, after some modifications, the construction of the New Synagogue in Subotica began in 1900, and finished as early as 1902. The Synagogue has a central base, with a large central dome rising above it, flanked by four lateral smaller domes on corners, covered with enamelled roof tiles in a combination of green ochre and blue.

The central space develops around eight steel supporting pillars, connected with steal girders in the upper section.

An octagonal wall and strengthened with Rabitz wire mesh bearing the main dome leans on the steal girders.

The height of the interior space of the Synagogue is 23 meters, and the span of the main dome is 12.6 meters.

In addition to the main entrance on the west façade, direct entrances to the ground level are also opened on the south and north facades.

Sight from gallery. Synagogue in Subotica. by Željko VukelićMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

The appealing appearance of the Synagogues exterior is even more expressed owing to the variety of mortared and flat brick surface.

Embellishments were made using decorative terra cotta element, as interwoven stylized forms of palmettes, tentacles, hearts, tulips and roses, made in the world-famous Zsolnay factory, Pécs, Hungary, which has been producing ceramics to date.

Synagogue in Subotica, exterior. by Željko VukelićMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

Synagogue in Subotica. A stained glass window of Miksa Róth., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Synagogue in Subotica. A stained glass window of Miksa Róth., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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A stained glass window. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Small foyer behind the main entrance. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The plentiful interior is decorated predominantly with gilt plaster ornaments in lavish colours, decorated with floral motives, while the windows are decorated with multicoloured stained glass made in the famous Miksa Róth workshop. 

Synagogue in Subotica. Detail of gypsum decoration., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Detail of gypsum decoration. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Detail of choir gallery above the Torah Ark. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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Metal donations box. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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What is obvious is craftsmanship and well-deliberated conception of each tiny detail (carpentry, ironwork, etc.), as a unique, all-embracing work of art.  

Synagogue in Subotica. Detail of Bimah., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The entrance in a Torah Ark, Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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The Menorah. Synagogue in Subotica., Željko Vukelić, Oct-02, From the collection of: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
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All of the above, both in terms of construction and decoration served the designers to physically present the building of the Subotica Synagogue through a strong symbolic message – as the embodiment of the tent where the Jewish people kept the Torah during the forty-year exodus in the wilderness after receiving the Commandments on Mt Sinai and making a covenant with God. 

This is what makes is utterly unique in the rich corpus of Jewish sacral art in Europe, and is therefore undeniably worth visiting. The Synagogue was established to be a cultural monument in 1975 and declared an immovable cultural asset of exceptional significance for the Republic of Serbia in 1990.

Sight from gallery. Synagogue in Subotica. by Željko VukelićMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

After several decades of neglect and dilapidation, the restoration was completed in 2018.

After which the Synagogue was opened to the public.

At the same time, reinstated its religious function.

Sight of Bimah and a celestial foliage-tent-like dome. Synagogue in Subotica. by Željko VukelićMinistry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia

Credits: Story

The Intermunicipial Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments Subotica.
The narration was provided by Neda Džamić, art historian.
Photo credit: Željko Vukelić


Republic Institute for the protection of cultural heritage of Serbia. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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