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Subotica City Hall
Subotica (Serbian: Суботица, Subotica, , Hungarian: Szabadka) is a city and municipality in northern Serbiamarker, in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodinamarker. It is located at 46.07° North, 19.68° East, about 10 km from the border with Hungarymarker.

Once the second largest city in Serbia (1919), contemporary Subotica is the second largest city of the Vojvodinamarker region following Novi Sadmarker. Among the most multiethnic cities in Serbia with a relative Hungarian majority, the city's population numbers 99,981 (according to the 2002 census). Likewise, today it is Serbiamarker's fifth largest city, with the municipality of Subotica numbering 148,401 people. It is the administrative centre of the North Bačka District.


There have been almost two hundred different forms of the name Subotica in history. This is because the city has welcomed so many different peoples since the Middle Ages. They all wrote about it, naming it in their own languages, which, for the most part, did not fix their spelling until modern times.

The earliest known written record of Subotica is Zabadka, which dates from 1391. This is a variant of the current Hungarian name for the city: Szabadka. However, in its present spelling, it appeared for the first time relatively late (1679). The Hungarian name for the city derives from the adjective szabad meaning "free", and the suffix -ka, an affectionate diminutive. Subotica's earliest designation means, therefore, something like a "small" or "dear", "free place".

The city was renamed in the 1740s for Maria Theresa of Austria, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Bohemia and Hungary. The town was officially called Szent-Maria in 1743, but was renamed in 1779 as Maria-Theresiapolis. These two official names were also spelled in several different ways (most commonly the German Maria-Theresiopel or Theresiopel), and were used in different languages. This name was abandoned in 1811 (with the Danube Swabians now referring to it mostly as Subotica, and pronouncing it Suboditsa). However a late-19th Century Imperial Land Survey map of the area (Reymann 1:75000 #5563) still shows it as Maria-Theresiopel.

The name Subotica derives from the Serbian word for "Saturday" or "Sabbath" and first appeared in 1653. The Serbian and Croatian word for "Saturday" is subota (субота), thus the name Subotica means "a little Saturday". Another theory claims that city was named after Subota Vrlić, who was a palatine and treasurer of Emperor Jovan Nenad in the 16th century.

The city's name in the other three official languages of Vojvodina are the same as the official name - Slovak: Subotica, Rusyn: Суботица, Romanian: Subotica or Subotiţa.



A Neolithic Tiszapolgár-Bodrogkeresztúr culture necropolis was found in Subotica.

The Middle Ages and the struggle with the Ottoman Empire

Subotica probably first became a settlement of note when people poured into it from nearby villages destroyed during the Tatar invasions of 1241-1242. When Zabadka was first recorded in 1391, Subotica was a tiny town in the middle of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Later, the city belonged to the Hunyadis, one of the most influential aristocratic families in the whole of Central Europe.
Library in Subotica
King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary gave the town to one of his relatives, János Pongrác Dengelegi, who, fearing an invasion by the Ottoman Empire fortified the castle of Subotica, erecting a fortress in 1470. Some decades later, after the Battle of Mohácsmarker in 1526, the medieval Kingdom of Hungary collapsed and Subotica gradually became a frontier town of the Ottoman Empire. The majority of the Hungarian population fled northward to Royal Hungary. Bálint Török, a local noble who had ruled over Subotica, also escaped from the city.

In the extremely confused military and political situation following the defeat at Mohácsmarker, Subotica came under the control of Serbian mercenaries recruited in Banat. These soldiers were in the service of the Transylvanian general John I Zápolya, a later Hungarian king. The leader of these mercenaries, Jovan Nenad the Black, proclaimed himself tsar and founded an ephemeral independent state, with Subotica as its capital. This state comprised entire Bačkamarker, northern Banat and a small part of Sremmarker. When Bálint Török returned with 300 soldier and captured Subotica from the Serbs, Jovan Nenad moved his capital to Szegedmarker. Some months later, in the summer of 1527, the self-proclaimed tsar was assassinated and his state collapsed.

The Ottoman Turks ruled the city from 1542 to 1686. At the end of this almost 150 year long period, not much remained of the old town of Zabadka. Because much of the population had fled, the Turks encouraged the settlement of the area by different colonists from the Balkans. The settlers were mostly Orthodox Serbs. They cultivated the extremely fertile land around Subotica. In 1570, the population of Subotica numbered 49 houses, and in 1590, 63 houses. In 1687, the region was settled by Catholic Dalmatas (called Bunjevci today). It was called "Sobotka" during Ottoman rule and was a kaza centre in Segedinmarker sanjak at first in Budin Eyaleti till 1596, after in Eğri Eyaleti between 1596-1686.

Wars for Independence and Revolutions

After the decisive battle against the Turks at Sentamarker (Zenta) led by Prince Eugene of Savoy on 11 September 1697, Subotica became part of the military border zone Tisa-Mureş established by the Habsburg Monarchy. In the meantime the uprising of Francis II Rákóczi broke out, which is also known as the Kuruc War. In the region of Subotica, Rákóczi joined battle against the Rac National Militia. Rác was a designation for the South Slavic people (mostly Serbs and Bunjevci) and they often were referred to as rácok in Hungary. In a later period rácok came to mean, above all, Serbs of Orthodox religion.

The Serbian military families enjoyed several privileges thanks to their service for the Habsburg Monarchy. Subotica gradually, however, developed from being a mere garrison town to becoming a market town with its own civil charter in 1743. When this happened, many Serbs complained about the loss of their privileges. The majority left the town in protest and some of them founded a new settlement just outside 18th century Subotica in Aleksandrovo, while others emigrated to Russiamarker. In New Serbia, a new Russian province established for them, those Serbs founded a new settlement and also named it Subotica. In 1775 a Jewish community in Subotica was established.

It was perhaps to emphasise the new civic serenity of Subotica that the pious name Saint Mary came to be used for it at this time. Some decades later, in 1779, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria advanced the town's status further by proclaiming it a Free Royal Town. The enthusiastic inhabitants of the city renamed Subotica once more as Maria-Theresiopolis.

This Free Royal Town status gave a great impetus to the development of the city. During the 19th century its population doubled twice, attracting many people from all over the Habsburg Monarchy. This led eventually to a considerable demographic change. In the first half of the 19th century, the Bunjevci had still been in the majority, but there was an increasing number of Hungarians and Jews settling in Subotica. This process was not stopped even by the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution in 1848/49.

It is remarkable that despite the diversity of their ethnic origins, the citizens of Subotica (mainly Bunjevci and Hungarians) united in defending Subotica in the battle at Kaponya, March 5 1849. They repulsed the advancing Serbian troops from Sombormarker in the direction to Szegedmarker. The town's first newspaper was also a result of the 1848/49 revolutionary spirit. It was called Honunk állapota ("State of Our Homeland") and was published in Hungarian by Károly Bitterman's local printing company.
A photo of the historic theater (beginning of the 20th century) - now under restoration
Following the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution, Hungary was administered by Baron Alexander von Bach from 1849–1860. During this time, Subotica, together with the entire Bačka region, was separated from the Habsburg Hungary and become a part of a separate Austrian province, named Vojvodina of Serbia and Tamiš Banat. The administrative centre of this new province was not Subotica, but Timişoaramarker.

From the Golden Age until after the World Wars

Memorial in Subotica cemetery for the 50th anniversary of the killings.
Behind: names of victims
After the establishment of the Dual-Monarchy in 1867, there followed what is often called the "golden age" of Subotica. The city had already acquired its impressive theatre in 1853, and many schools were opened after 1867. In 1869 the railway connected the city to the world. In 1896 an electrical power plant was built, further enhancing the development of the city and the whole region. Subotica now adorned itself with its remarkable Central European, fin de siècle architecture. In 1902 a Jewish synagogue was built in the Art Nouveau style. It is interesting that at the beginning of the 20. century Subotica was a city with the biggest number of Croats in the World, even more than Zagrebmarker had.

Subotica belonged to the Austria-Hungary until the aftermath of World War I in 1918, when the city became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker. Separated from the economic and cultural mainstream, it had to content itself with being a border-town in Yugoslavia. Subotica did not, for a time, experience again the dynamic prosperity it enjoyed in the years preceding World War I. However, at that time, Subotica was the third largest city in Yugoslavia by population, following Belgrademarker and Zagrebmarker.

In 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded and partitioned by the Axis Powers, and its northern parts, including Subotica, were annexed to Hungary. During World War II the city lost 7,000 of its citizens, mostly Serbs, Hungarians and Jews. Hungarian troops entered Subotica on April 11, 1941. During the war, Axis occupation troops killed numerous civilians. Before the war 6,000 Jews lived in Subotica. Many Jews were deported from the city during the Holocaust, mostly to Auschwitzmarker. In April 1944 a ghetto was set up. Also, many communists were put to death during Axis rule.In 1944, the Axis forces left from the city, and Subotica became part of the new socialist Yugoslavia. During the 1944-45 period about 2,000 citizens (mainly Hungarian) were murdered by Serbian partisans.

In the post-war period Subotica has gradually modernised itself. During the Yugoslav and Kosovo wars of the 1990s, a considerable number of Serb refugees came to the city from Croatiamarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, and Kosovomarker, whilst many ethnic Hungarians and Croats left the country because of the political pressures of the Milošević period and rise of Serbian nationalism (Some of the ethnic Serb residents also left the country because of the same reasons). During the break-up of Yugoslavia, local leaders in Subotica were drawn from political parties opposed to the policy of the central government in Belgrade.

Inhabited places

Map of Subotica municipality
The Subotica municipality comprises the Subotica city, the town of Palićmarker and 17 villages. The villages are:

City quarters


Ethnic map of the Subotica municipality

Ethnic groups in the municipality

Subotica is a multiethnic city and municipality. The population of the Subotica municipality is composed of (according to 2002 census):

Ethnic groups in the city

The population of the Subotica city is composed of (according to 2002 census):
  • Hungarians = 34,983 (34.99%)
  • Serbs = 27,838 (27.85%)
  • Bunjevci = 10,870 (10.87%)
  • Croats = 10,424 (10.43%)
  • Yugoslavs = 6,787 (6.79%)
  • Roma = 1,171 (1.17%)
  • others

The city serves as the cultural and political centre for the Hungarians, Bunjevci, and Croats in Vojvodina. The largest percent of declared Yugoslavs in Vojvodina is also found in Subotica.

Settlements by ethnic majority

The places with a Hungarian absolute or relative ethnic majority are: Subotica (Hungarian: Szabadka), Palićmarker (Hungarian: Palicsfürdő), Hajdukovo (Hungarian: Hajdújárás), Bački Vinogradimarker (Hungarian: Bácsszőlős), Šupljakmarker (Hungarian: Alsóludas), Čantavirmarker (Hungarian: Csantavér), Bačko Dušanovomarker (Hungarian: Zentaörs), and Kelebija (Hungarian: Alsókelebia).

The places with a Serb absolute or relative ethnic majority are: Bajmokmarker, Višnjevacmarker, Novi Žednikmarker, and Mišićevomarker.

The places with a Bunjevac and Croat ethnic majority are: Mala Bosnamarker, Đurđinmarker, Donji Tavankut, Gornji Tavankutmarker, Bikovomarker, Stari Žednikmarker, and Ljutovomarker.

Bajmok, Višnjevac, and Stari Žednik have over 20% Hungarians, just as in the places with a Hungarian majority (Subotica, Palić, Bačko Dušanovo, and Kelebija) in which over 20% are Serbs, Croats and Bunjevci.


Languages spoken in Subotica municipality (according to 2002 census):

Note: The Bunjevac language is also spoken in Subotica, but it was not listed separately in the 2002 census results published by the Statistical Office of Serbia; the speakers of this language were listed in category "other languages". The number of those who speak "other languages" (presumably Bunjevac ) in the Subotica municipality is 8,914. Some other members of the Bunjevac ethnic community declared in census that their language is Serbian or Croatian. Bunjevac is likely to be listed separately in the future censa, since the members of the Bunjevac ethnic community expressed the wish for affirmation of their language. They also expressed the wish to have school classes in Bunjevac, so the state is most likely to oblige.


Religion in Subotica municipality (according to 2002 census):

Subotica is the centre of the Roman Catholic diocese of the Bačkamarker region belonging to Serbia. The Subotica area has the highest concentration of Catholics in Serbia. Nearly 70% of the city's population are Catholics. The liturgical languages used in the city's Catholic churches are mostly Hungarian and Croatian. There are eight Catholic parish churches, a Franciscan spiritual centre (the city has communities of both Franciscan monks and Franciscan nuns), a female Dominican community, and two congregations of Augustinian religious sisters. The diocese of Subotica has the only Catholic secondary school in Serbia (Paulinum).

Subotica had a Roman Catholic Blessed working in it. When the nuns' orphanage and children's dome in Blato has exhausted the food funds for helping poor and hungry children, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković went to fertile pleains of Bačka and the seat of Bačka Apostolic Administration, Subotica, to solicit help for the orphans and widows. In return, Bishop Ljudevit Lajčo Budanović asked her to found monasteries of her Order in Subotica and neighbourhood, so the locals can get spiritual gain from that nuns of her Order can provide them... Marija Petković quickly notice that Bačka also had problems of numerous poor and abandoned children, so in 1923, she opened Kolijevka, Children's Home in Subotica. Today this city still has that Children's Home, although the nuns of Marija's Order aren't in that Home anymore.

Among another Christian communities, the members of the Serbian Orthodox Church are the most numerous. There are two Eastern Orthodox church buildings in the city; as well as two Protestant churches, Lutheran and Calvinist, respectively.

The Jewish community of Subotica is the third largest in Serbia, after those in Belgrademarker and Novi Sadmarker. The astounding proportions and beauty of the Hungarian style art nouveau synagogue are the legacy of a Jewish community that once numbered 6,000 members. About 1,000 of the original Jews of Subotica survived the Holocaust. Today, less than 200 people of Jewish origin remained in Subotica.


2004 elections

Seats in the municipal parliament won in the 2004 local elections: [26743]

2008 elections

Results of 2008 local elections in Subotica municipality: [26744]

After the elections, coalition For a European Subotica (with 32 seats in the parliament), Hungarian Coalition (with 21 seats in the parliament) and Bunjevac Party of Vojvodina (with 1 seat in the parliament) formed local municipal government. Saša Vučinić from Democratic Party (For a European Subotica) is elected for mayor, and Jene Maglai from Hungarian Coalition is elected for president of municipal parliament. [26745]


Unique in Serbia, Subotica has the most buildings built in art nouveau style. Especially the City Hall (built in 1908-1910) and the Synagogue (1902) are of outstanding beauty. These were built by the same architects, by Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab from Budapestmarker, Hungary. Another exceptional example of art nouveau architecture is the actual Artistic Encounter building, which was built in 1904 by Ferenc J. Raichle.

The most remarkable church buildings are: the Catholic Cathedral of St. Theresa of Avila from 1797, the Franciscan Monastery from 1723, the Orthodox churches also from the 18th century, the Hungarian Art Nouveau Subotica Synagogue from the turn-of-the-century.

In recent years there has been an effort to restore the synagogue. Over $400,000 has been raised for the cause by 2004.


The historic theater of the town, which was built in 1854 as the first monumental public building in Subotica, was demolished in 2007, although it was declared a historic monument under state protection in 1983, and in 1991 it was added to the National Register as a monument of an extraordinary cultural value . An international campaign was organized both in Serbia and in Hungary to save the historic building. ICOMOS and INTBAU also protested against the decision, but with no avail. The historic centre of Subotica was severely damaged visually. Some scanty remains of the destroyed building will be allegedly incorporated into the new theater.


Subotica is not a university city but has some widely respected secondary schools and faculties.

Secondary Schools

Technical School
  • Teachers' College, founded in 1689, the oldest college in the country and region
  • "Svetozar Marković" grammar school web-site
  • "Dezső Kosztolányi" Philological grammar school web-site
  • "Paulinum" Grammar school of ancient languages of the Catholic Diocese of Subotica
  • Music School
  • "MESŠC" Electro-mechanical school, recently renamed to "Tehnička Škola - Subotica" (en. "Technical School") web-site
  • "Bosa Milićević" School of Economics
  • Polytechnic school
  • "Lazar Neśić" Chemistry school
  • Medical school

Notable faculties

  • Civil Engineering faculty web-site
  • Electro-Mechanic-Programming faculty "VTŠ" web-site
  • Economics faculty web-site
  • Teachers faculty in Hungarian language web-site
  • Kindergarten Teacher Training College web-site

Newspapers and magazines

Newspapers and magazines published in Subotica:


Surroundings of Subotica are mainly farmland but the city itself is an important industrial and transportation centre in Serbia.

Famous citizens

International cooperation

Twin cities

Subotica is twinned with the following cities:

Partner Cities

Subotica is a partner city with the following:

Subotica photo gallery

Image:Suboticka arhitektura.jpg|A street in Subotica's downtown, with its typical architectureImage:Suboticka katedrala.jpg|Cathedral of Saint Teresa of Avila in downtown SuboticaImage:Gradska kuca.jpg|Town Hall (Gradska Kuca) in SuboticaImage:Green_fountain_in_Subotica.jpg|Zsolnay fountain and the City Library behindImage:Emperor_Jovan_Nenad.JPG|Statue of Emperor Jovan Nenad in SuboticaImage:Theatre in subotica.jpg|The old theatre before its demolition

See also


  2. Borovszky Samu: Magyarország vármegyéi és városai, Bács-Bodrog vármegye I.-II. kötet, Apolló Irodalmi és Nyomdai Részvénytársaság, 1909.
  4. Mészáros Sándor: Holttá nyilvánítva - Délvidéki magyar fátum 1944-45., I.-II., Hatodik Síp Alapítvány, Budapest 1995.
  5. Cseres Tibor: Vérbosszú Bácskában, Magvető kiadó, Budapest 1991.
  6. Bl. Marija Petković M. Stantić: Zauzimanje za siromahe - karizma danas
  • Recent (2002) statistical information comes from the Serbian statistical office.
    • Ethnic statistics: , САОПШTЕЊЕ СН31, брoј 295 • год. LII, 24.12.2002, YU ISSN 0353–9555. Accessed 17 Jan 2006. On page 6–7, Становништво према националној или етничкој припадности по попису 2002. Statistics can be found on the lines for "Суботица" (Subotica).
    • Language and religion statistics: Popis stanovništva, domaćinstava i stanova u 2002, ISBN 86-84433-02-5. Accessed 17 Jan 2006. On page 11–12: СТАНОВНИШТВО ПРЕМА ВЕРОИСПОВЕСТИ, СТАНОВНИШТВО ПРЕМА МАТЕРЊЕМ ЈЕЗИКУ. Statistics can be found on the lines for "Суботица" (Subotica).

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