Some 175km north of Belgrade, Vojvodina’s second city, Subotica (Суботица; Hungarian: Szabadka), is a wonderful counterpoint to the capital, its Secessionist buildings, green spaces, wide pavements and burghers riding around on old-fashioned bicycles all contributing to its unspoilt, wholesome air. Just a stone’s throw from Hungary, Subotica feels tangibly more like its northern neighbour. Historically, the ties are close: Subotica reached its apotheosis in the years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when it was granted the status of a Royal Free Town.
The heart of the town is grassy Trg Republike, fronted by a hulking city hall built in 1912; its gingerbread-like windows and colourfully patterned roof are almost too gaudy to look at in full sunlight. In front stands a brilliant blue fountain added in 2001. Adjoining Trg Republike is Trg Slobode, behind which runs the Korzo, a busy pedestrianized street featuring the fairytale Piraeus Bank building, with its door and windows straight out of a medieval castle, created by architects Dezsó Jakab and Marcell Komor at the start of the twentieth century.
Further out, northwest of the city centre is another Jakab/Komor collaboration: the dignified but now deserted 1902 synagogue, where a moving plaque remembers the “4000 Jewish citizens with whom we lived and built Subotica”.