Town Hall Subotica
Cultural monument of exceptional importance

The present city hall was the third one built at this same location. The first city hall was built in 1751, the second between 1826 and 1828 and the designs for the third city hall had already been conceived by Lazar Mamužić, the mayor, as he hired Ödön Lechner, an already renowned Hungarian architect and the founder of the Hungarian national architectural style, to develop a design for the city hall in Subotica, as he did in 1896.
On account of the fact that Szeged and Subotica were rival cities, competing against each other in the construction of monumental buildings, but also in the introduction of innovation from other aspects of life, such as the telegraph, the railway or the electric tram, the city hall was also a subject of competition between the two cities. Ödön Lechner had previously made a reconstruction and extension plan for an urban house in Szeged, but also a plan for the reconstruction and extension of an urban house in Zrenjanin. However, his design was not implemented in Subotica.

In 1902, the ambitious Károly Biró, a doctor of law and attorney, became the mayor of Subotica and some of the most significant buildings in Subotica from the early 19th century, such as the city hall and the building complex at Palic summer resort were built under his administration. Given that the city did not have the funding for such an ambitious city hall building plan, it was decided to sell the sand from the Csikéria area, which was in the city’s possession, and that is how the funds were raised for the new city hall building. The open call for the construction of the city hall was announced on August 30th, 1906. One of the requirements set out in the open call was for the city hall to be built in Baroque style to honour Maria Theresa, the empress who declared Subotica a free borough under the Crown in 1779. From the ten submitted papers, the first prize went to Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab, architects from Budapest.

At the end of 1906, Komor and Jakab approached the City Senate with an offer to build the city hall in the style of Hungarian art nouveau instead of Baroque, which would, according to them, reduce building expenses. The Senate accepted the offer, but there were difficulties to acquire consent from the Ministry in Budapest. The State Civil Engineering Senate did not agree with the new architectural style of the city hall. A city hall in Târgu Mures was already built by the two architects according to the new style, so Károly Biró, the mayor of Subotica, asked for support from György Bernády, the mayor of Târgu Mures.

By June 1908, the new building design for the city hall was approved in Budapest and the construction of the city hall commenced. Rough construction works were finalized in 1910 and it took two more years to complete the works in the interior, designed personally by Dezső Jakab . Ferenc Nagy and Lukács Kladek from Subotica were the contractors, whereas Gyula Váli, the city’s civil engineer was the engineer during the construction. The building that was built then was 105,08m long and 55,56m wide, stretching over a surface of 5.838m² with 16.000m² of floor area. It was a contemporary building, both by its function and furnishings: water-supply and sewage system were set up, as well as a central heating system and an elevator to the third floor from the main entrance. In terms of the structure frame, Komor and Jakab applied concrete as a contemporary material for the floors, whereas they used bricks to build full, flat walls.

The city hall was completed in 1912, as a forerunner of a new age, as an administration house for citizen services. Its flamboyant art nouveau ornaments, inspired by motifs from the Hungarian folklore, both on the facades and especially in the interior, symbolically depict the distinctive attributes of life in Subotica in the period.

Dr Viktorija Aladžić

Gradska kuća Subotica Városháza Szabadka 1912–2012
Monograph, Subotica 2012

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