Subotica's Art Nouveau Synagogue – Subotica, Serbia - Atlas Obscura

Subotica's Art Nouveau Synagogue

Religious perseverance and cultural coexistence manifest in an architectural gem that multiple wars couldn't topple. 


Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the Jakab and Komor Square Synagogue in Subotica (locally referred to simply as the Subotica synagogue) is one of the finest surviving pieces of religious architecture in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style remaining in the world today. Add to that fact its emblematic power for a religious community decimated by war, and Subotica’s synagogue assumes a status of precious relic nonpareil. 

We may have failed to mention that it’s an extraordinarily beautiful building, too.

The Jewish community of Subotica has existed amidst nonstop political tumult since 1775. During the era of the Inquisition, Serbia took in those fleeing persecution in Portugal and Spain, welcomed by the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Bayezid II. After the Habsburgs seized Subotica and its surrounding lands, the cityscape slowly morphed into a gorgeous byproduct of all these colliding aesthetics, simultaneously persevering and coexisting in spite of themselves.

As the Jewish community was systematically erased for ethnic and religious reasons throughout World War II, the synagogue continues to stand as a poignant, positive symbol of cultural confluence. Designed in tandem by architects Dezső Jakab and Marcell Komor and built in 1901 from brick punctuated with bright Zsolnaj ceramics, the house of worship is a hybrid of Western Art Nouveau detailing and Eastern motifs, featuring floral and zoomorphic ornamentation tucked around its portals, windows, and attic.

The World Monuments Fund to designated the Subotica Synagogue among their list of “100 Most Endangered Monuments of Cultural Significance” in the world in the year 2000.

Since 2003 it has undergone extensive restoration both inside and out. As of March 2018, the synagogue has been formally open after the reconstruction works have been finished.

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