My heart necklace is making me realize just how influenced I was by a trip I took several years ago to Subotica (pron. sue-boh-tea-tza), a little town in Serbia just seven miles from the Hungarian border.
Set in the plains, Subotica straddles definitions, caught between country village and sophisticated city. I stayed in town, but was woken by the neighbor’s cock crowing. On my way in and out of an eleven-story high rise I would pause to watch the progress of a ladder being built by an elderly man on the lawn outside. A ladder, made by hand.
The town has some of the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture I’ve ever seen, equal to the work of Horta in Belgium, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland.
However the buildings are dilapidated, and the stunning synagogue with it’s heart-shaped iron railing has been closed for a long time. The country has yet to recover from war.
I believe that the local people built the Town Hall themselves. It’s an imposing building that stands in the middle of a large square at the center of the town. Inside it’s more Hansel and Gretel than bureaucratic edifice, there are hand-painted murals everywhere you look.
Here’s a window sill by the main staircase:
Check out this detail – remind you of any necklaces you’ve seen lately?
This is the waiting room at the tax office:
At the top of each column there are symbolic representations of the local trade guilds. (My pre-digital pictures don’t remotely do justice to the charm and whimsy of this room.)
The pattern on the floor is composed of thousands of hearts. This is a tax office I would be happy to visit. Heck I wouldn’t mind having to wait on one of these fairy tale benches.
The main hall is completely ornamented as well; I love the idea of officers of the law hard at work, surrounded by hearts and flowers.
I’m thinking of lobbying my local representative; surely Washington would be a happier, more productive place if Congress and the White House had some murals like these. And the IRS! What might the Internal Revenue Service be, if hearts danced across waiting room floors, and vibrant beanstalks curled their way up the walls.