The synagogue was officially rededicated on 26 March in the presence of Serbian and Hungarian state leaders. The restoration, carried out by a joint Serbian-Hungarian team of experts, took more than six years to complete. The process actually started way back in the 1970s but was stalled due to various setbacks, with a period of several years during which the building was used as an avant-garde theatre.
The synagogue was listed by the World Monuments Watch among the world’s 100 most endangered sites in 1996 and 2000, as well as placed on the list of Europe’s Seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites by Europa Nostra in 2014. Since the surviving Jewish community in Subotica is nowadays fairly small, the restored synagogue – apart from being used for religious services – will also serve as a concert venue and it will be open for tourist visits.
The gorgeous building dates from 1902 and is one of the most impressive examples of Hungarian art nouveau (or Secessionist) architectural style in Central Europe; it’s also the city’s oldest edifice built in this style. It was the work of Budapest architects Dezső Jakab and Marcell Komor, associates of Ödön Lechner who was the undisputed master of the Hungarian Secession. Distinctive architectural elements include stained-glass windows by Miksa Róth, multi-coloured Zsolnay ceramics, curved gables, and Hungarian folklore motifs such as stylised tulips, carnations, roses and peacock feathers.
The second-largest town in Serbia’s northern Vojvodina province – located 10km from the border with Hungary – Subotica was once an important hub of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As such it attracted some of the region’s most influential architects and artists, so it’s no wonder that their excellent handiwork is today the town’s biggest tourist drawcard. Apart from the synagogue, other unmissable art nouveau gems in Subotica include the 1904 Raichle Palace (which now houses the Modern Art Gallery), the City Hall (1910), the City Museum (1906) and more.