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Subotica Synagogue

The Jakab and Komor Square Synagogue in Subotica is a Hungarian Art Nouveau synagogue in Subotica, Serbia. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe. It was built in 1901-1902 during the administration of the Kingdom of Hungary (part of Austria-Hungary), according to the plans of Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab replacing a smaller and less elaborate synagogue. It is one of the finest surviving pieces of religious architecture in the art nouveau style. It served the local Neolog community. In 1974 the synagogue was designated a Monument of Culture; in 1990 it was designated a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia. The synagogue has long been plagued by conservation issues, though a decade-long partnership between the government and World Monuments Fund that ended in 2010 rendered the building watertight after years of water infiltration. Work on the restoration of the facades is the next phase of work on the synagogue. The synagogue of Subotica is the only surviving Hungarian art nouveau Jewish place of worship in the world. Erected by a prosperous Jewish community of some 3000 souls between 1901 and 1903, it highlights the double, Hungarian-Jewish identity of its builders, who lived in a multi-ethnic, but predominantly Catholic city, which was the third largest of the Hungarian Kingdom and the tenth largest of the Habsburg Empire. The community hired a not-yet established tandem of Hungarian art nouveau architects from Budapest, Dezső Jakab and Marcell Komor, who would later make a great imprint on the architecture of Subotica and Palić, the resort town near the city. The architects were ardent followers of Ödön Lechner, the father of Hungarian art nouveau style architecture, and later partisans of this movement, which unified Hungarian folklore elements with some Jewish structural principles and sometimes even Jewish motifs. Besides lending the synagogue a distinct double identity in architectural terms, Jakab and Komor created a new space-conception of synagogue architecture in Hungary and deployed modern steel structure as well as an advanced technique of vaulting. Unlike period synagogues in Hungary that featured a predominantly basilica-like arrangement with a nave and two aisles, with or without a dome, this synagogue achieves a unified, tent-like central space under the sun, painted in gold on the apex of the dome. The women’s gallery and the dome are supported by four pairs of steel pillars covered with gypsum with a palm leaf relief. The large dome is a self-supporting, 3-5 centimeters thin shell-structure, formed in the spirit of Hungarian folklore. While many other synagogues have utilized light structures, they usually mimicked traditional arches and vaults. The novelty of this synagogue is the sincere display of modern structure and modernity in general, of which Jews have been important advocates and generators. The synagogue was fully renovated in multi-million renovation project financed mainly by Hungarian and Serbian government and opened in march 2018.

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Tours of Subotica

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Hotels in Subotica

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#JEWISHSUBOTICA

Ever since I learned about the Subotica Synagogue in Subotica, Serbia, it has been at the top of my "Synagogues I most want to visit" list.

The architecture strikes me as one of the most beautiful synagogues I have ever seen.

The Subotica Synagogue was first built in 1902 in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style. During this time period Subotica was part of Austria-Hungary, which explains why even though the building is not in Hungary today, it was affiliated with the Neolog community. Neolog is a uniquely Hungarian denomination of Judaism which is more progressive than Orthodox Judaism.

This synagogue is among the most impressive examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the region and is the only place of worship in Europe with features of this style. The synagogue design was originally submitted as a competition proposal by Budapest architects, to be built in Szeged, Hungary. After the design placed second, it was adapted and built in nearby Subotica.

The synagogue originally shared a corner plot with the Jewish Community Building and the Jewish School, also designed by the architects of the synagogue.

While the synagogue building did survive World War II, it suffered for years from conservation issues. Between 2003-2018 the synagogue was renovated and it is now once again open to the public.

Owned by the municipality, the synagogue is today managed as a tourist attraction and concert venue, but is also used by the small, local Jewish community, when they wish, for services and other occasions. The local Jewish community is able to veto concerts or other events deemed inappropriate for the space. There are plans to install a permanent Jewish exhibition inside the synagogue as well.

With the ability to seat up to 1,600 people, the Subotica Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in Europe today.

What synagogue in the world do you most want to visit?

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