Prominent people of Subotica

Tzar Jovan Nenad


(1492 - 1527)

Tzar Jovan Nenad was a self-proclaimed Serbian tzar, the ruler of a short-lived independent state (the Serbian Empire) in the area of the southern Pannonian Plain (today's Vojvodina) from 1526 to 1527.

In the history he is most famous as Jovan Nenad, named as Black man as well, because of a black line he had on the body from the right side of the forehead to the right foot. In the Hungarian language, he is known as Fekete Ivan or Fekete Jovan, Fekete Ember, Cserni Jovan, Csernajevics Ivan.

It is not known exactly who Jovan Nenad was. He claimed that he was a descendant of Byzantine and Serbian rulers. Some people from that period thought his origin derives of Serbian despots, but others claimed he was just a peasant.

At the peak of his power, Jovan Nenad was coronated as a Serbian Emperor in Subotica. Over time, Tzar Jovan Nenad has become a legendary figure for the Serbs. Many historians regard him as the founder of today's Vojvodina, and in Subotica a monument in Tsars honor was established with the inscription: "Your thought has won".

Reconstructed Monument of Jovan Nenad, Subota Vrlić and Fabijan Literata located at Trg Slobode in front of the City Hall in Subotica, was re-established at the current location on November 9, 1991 (according to the original monument from 1927).

With his death his creation was destroyed, but the idea that he introduced among the Serbs in Hungary could no longer be destroyed. He was wounded from an ambush, and died in 1527 in Tornjoš, not far from Senta.

Lajos Vermes


(1860 - 1945)

Lajos Vermes was a wealthy landowner, but he had no interest in gaining wealth and managing his possessions, so he went to Pest to study medicine. Being delighted with sports and returning from Pest to Subotica, together with his brothers Bela and Nandor, he founded two sports clubs: gymnastic and athletic.

Vermes is remembered as a versatile sportsman, swimmer and athlete, gymnast, wrestler, fencer, cyclist... The story of Palić Olympic games began back in 1876 when Vermeš went to Naples to take measure from discus that young ancient athlete at Myron's statue Discobolus is holding with the goal of making the same kind of discus in Subotica. In order for the games to have a place to be held, he installed gymnastic equipment in his orchard on Palić and made athletic trails.

For the needs of Palić Olympic games he built the first cycling track in this part of Europe, that had ellipsoidal shape, 500 m long, called the Closed Arena because it was surrounded by stands with seats. Along the track and the stadium, in Palić he built an Olympic village where competitors from other places had the privilege to stay, of course on his cost.

Places where competitors were staying exist today close to the lake, Bagojvar tower and Villa Lujza. Lajos Vermeš was able to implement his idea on August 26, 1880, and only three sports disciplines (wrestling, long jump and shot put) were included in this first competition, but later their number was increased and the program included gymnastics, swimming, athletics (running on 250 and 220 m, 15 km and 1,000 m with crosses, jump up, jump out, jump with a pole), boxing, wrestling, fencing, rowing and cycling.

Palić games were then called Palić Olympic Games, and they were played in summer and winter, and lasted from 1880 to 1914, when they were permanently closed by the effect of World War I.

Ivan Sarić


(1876 - 1966)

Ivan Sarić was an athlete, wrestler and one of the founders of the football team in Subotica, also one of the most important aviation pioneers in Eastern Europe. A famous cyclist participated and won many races through Europe.

He graduated from Economic academy, and he lived and worked as a bookkeeper in his hometown. He was born in Subotica, then Austrian-Hungary, and now Serbia.

During the ending of trading school, Sarić began to practice sports. He started cycling in 1891 and soon became the best cyclist in the Kingdom of Hungary, when he took the second place in the international race in Pécs in 1891. He became champion of the Kingdom of Hungary at 10km race in 1897 and again next year.

In 1899, he won the 25km race in Vienna and 100km in Budapest. In 1910 he became the champion of Serbia at 1km and 25km races. During his visit to Paris in 1909, Sarić met with some French pioneers of aviation including Louis Blériot, and saw the first airplanes that fascinated him.

Right after his return to Subotica, he started building his first aircraft. At the beginning of 1910, his first single-wing plane named Sarić 1 was completed. During that summer, he experimented and practiced with a new machine, when on 16 October, 1910 it was pushed into the air.

In 1911 he constructed Sarić 2, an improved plane with a motor of its own construction and greater power. His further flight attempts were stopped by World War I. He died in his hometown Subotica. Aero Club from Subotica is named by Sarić, as well as sports airport in Bikovo near Subotica.

The replica of his airplane Sarić 1 is exhibited at the Museum of Aeronautics in Belgrade.

Blaško Rajić


(1878 - 1951)

Blaško Rajić strongly marked the entire era in our city with his achievements as a priest, a public and political servant, as a writer and a patriot.

He was born in 1878 in Subotica. After elementary school and gymnasium, he completed theology in Kalocsa. He was a chaplain in Dušnoko, Santovo and Subotica, in order to come to the position of the parish priest of St. Roka in Subotica. He became the vicar of the diocese of Bačka in 1923, the prelate of honour of His Holiness, in 1925 and in 1927 the apostolic protonotary.

He was also included in a social and political field. He played an exceptional role in the crucial moments of separating these parts from the Monarchy and joining them to the Kingdom of Serbia.

During the entire interwar period, he was one of the main and most influential persons among Bunjevac nation. During the war he was interned, but in the first moments when new government system was established in 1944, he performed high and responsible functions in the local authority.

He died in 1951 in Subotica.

Aleksandar Lifka


(1880 - 1952)

Aleksandar Lifka was a well-known middle-european filmmaker with Czech origin, born in Brasov in Austria-Hungary, today's Romania. After spending his childhood with his family in the village of Žatec, near Prague, he moves to Vienna to attend a secondary technical school.

After finishing school, he came to Paris, where he bought Pate camera. In 1900, he recorded a visit of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and his spouse Empress Elizabeth of Austria in Gödöllő, Hungary.

After the death of his father, Lifka and his elder brother Karl established a traveling cinema. The cinema had professional equipment (Gomon, AEG, Kerting) and luxurious interior. First projection was held in Trieste. The tour continued in 1901 by visiting Rijeka, Bjelovar, Osijek, Ljubljana and in 1902 Belgrade, Zemun, Novi Sad and Subotica.

Alexander filmed documentary films about political events, and about the ordinary people from the cities he visited while on tour. Alexander Lifka came back to Subotica in 1905 and in 1910 he started reconstructing the large hall of the hungarian hotel into the cinema.

His wife, Beck Erzsebet, helped him to start a movie theater. During the World War I, Filmkriegspresse hired him to make a film about the battles in Galizia, where he was wounded.

He returned to Subotica after the war, which then belonged to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and ended his filming career. After World War II he accepts Yugoslav citizenship. He died on November 12, 1952 in his vineyard.

He is buried in Subotica. Until today, only twenty of his original films have been preserved.

Bela Lugosi


(1882 - 1956)

Bela Lugosi was famous Hungarian theater and movie actor, best known for his performance as Count Dracula in 1927 in American Broadway theater performance and 1931 in film of the same name, based on Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel Dracula.

Lugosi was born in Lugos in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Lugosi began his acting career on Subotica stage while interpreting Shakespeare's characters. In 1927, thanks to his gallantry and an exotic Hungarian accent, he got the role of Count Dracula at Broadway.

This role, which later was showed as a film, made him famous and made him one of the iconic horror actors of the 1930s. However, that also limited his career, since he had received exclusively offers for role of exotic foreign negatives.

His latest high-budget film was 'Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein' from 1948. In 1950s forgotten Lugosi was found by filmmaker Edward D. Wood and he gave him major roles in several films - ‘Glen or Glenda’ and ‘Bride of the Monster’.

Shortly after filming Lugosi ended up in clinic because of his morphine addiction. On his way out, he began filming Wood's most famous film 'Plan 9 From Outer Space', but before it ended he suffered a heart attack from which he died.

Dezső Kosztolányi


(1885 - 1936)

Dezső Kosztolányi is a well-known Hungarian poet and writer. Kostolanji was born in 1885 in Subotica, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

The city served him as a model for the fictitious city called Šarseg, for his novels ‘Skylark’ and ‘The golden kite’. He attended high school in Subotica, but he was expelled because of his conflict with the professor, and he graduated from part-time high school in Szeged.

He moved in Vienna for short period of time where he became a journalist. He worked as a journalist for the rest of his life. Beginning from the second decade of the 20th century, he writes novels, short stories and short prose such as ‘Skylark’,  ‘The golden kite’ and ‘Anna Édes’.

In 1924 he published a collection of poems called ‘The complaints of the Sad man’. He also translates literary in Hungarian such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Winter’s tale’ by William Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Thornton Wylder's ‘Bridge of San Luis Rey’, memoirs of Oscar Wilde and others...In 1936 he died of hard palate cancer.

Jovan Mikić - Spartak


(1914 - 1944)

Jovan Mikić, famous for his nickname Spartak, was a Yugoslav national athlete and record-holder in athletics, known because FC Spartak Subotica was named by him. Jovan Mikić was born on May 13, 1914 in Opovo, Banat.

He was the fourth child of mother Darinka, teacher, and father Aleksandar, school supervisor. After the World War I, he moved with his family to Subotica.

In Subotica he finished high school and college. In 1939, he was accepted as an assistant at the economic-commercial high school in Belgrade. He quickly applied for professor assistant, but was interrupted by the World War II.

As a very gifted personality, who speaks several languages since his childhood, he writes poems but his supreme talent expresses in sports. From 1932 to 1939, he was our most successful pentathlonist, jumper, disc and hammer thrower.

Sport career brought Jovan to the top, he was one of the best Yugoslav athletes. He was the champion of Balkan twice, also our Olympic representative full of strength and inexhaustible energy was everywhere and always was among the leaders.

On the day of the liberation of Subotica Jovan Mikić Spartak leaves us. On October 10th, a Hungarian soldier wounded him at the railway station. He died on October 11, 1944.

Tihomir Ognjanov


(1927 — 2006)

Tihomir Ognjanov is a former Yugoslav soccer player, born in Subotica. He was one of the members of the legendary Yugoslav Olympic team, a prominent right wing, he was in national team and coach.

He began playing in 1939 for junior team of Subotica FC Žak, and continued to play in FC Bačka until 194. when he was transferred to FC Spartak. He played 9 games for Belgrade FC Partizan in 1947 and scored 7 goals.

He reached a peak of his career in Belgrade FC Red Star for which he was playing from 1949 to 1953, he played a total of 181 matches, scored 73 goals and won two Yugoslav championship titles and two trophies of the Cup of Yugoslavia.

He finished his career in FC Spartak Subotica in which he played the last match on March 5, 1961. He played 110 matches with the Subotica squad and scored 71 goals. He participated in the Olympic tournament in Finland in 1952, where Yugoslavia won a silver medal.

He was in the selection of the World Cup in 1954 in Switzerland, but since he was insufficiently recovered from a groin surgery, he did not play. He also worked as a coach. He worked in OFC Subotica, in Spartak, in Crvenka and finally in Sever.

He was also a member of presidential council of FC Spartak.

Danilo Kiš


(1935 - 1989)

Danilo Kiš was born in Subotica, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, present Serbia, from father Edward Kiš, Hungarian Jew and railway inspector, and from mother Milica Dragićević, Montenegrin from Cetinje.

His father was born in Austria-Hungary under the surname Kon, but later changed to Kiš during the Hungarianization, which was widespread at that time. During World War II, his father and other family members were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

During the War, his mother hid him and his sister Danica in Hungary. Upon the end of the War, the family moved to Cetinje in Montenegro, where Danilo graduated from high school in 1954. He studied literature at Belgrade University, where he was the first one to become a graduate of the Department of General Literature.

He was a prominent member of the ‘Vidici’ magazine, where he worked until 1960. In 1962 he published his first two novels ‘Mansarda’ and ‘Psalm 44’.

For his novel ’Peščanik’ he received a prestigious NIN Award in 1973, which he will later return for political reasons. Over the next few years, Kiš receives a number of national and international awards for his prose and poetry.

He spent most of his life in Belgrade, and the last decade of his life on the Paris-Belgrade route. For many years he worked in France as a lecturer. Kiš was married to Mirjana Miočinović from 1962 to 1981 and after divorcing his wife he lived with his second wife Pascal Delpès until his death. He died in Paris.

A movie named by his novel ‘Peščanik’ by a Hungarian author Sabolcs Tolnai was completed in 2008. In May 1989, together with his friend, director Aleksandar Mandić, he recorded a TV series of four episodes ‘Goli život’, about the life of two Jews.

The shooting took place in Israel, and the series was shown after his death in the spring of 1990. That was also his last work. In 2019, the City of Subotica Assembly posthumously awarded him with the title of Honored Citizen of our city.

Zvonko Bogdan



Zvonimir Zvonko Bogdan was born on January 5, 1942 in Sombor. He is a singer of folk music. Besides for him being known as a singer, he is also a composer, painter, poet and jockey.

He is recognizable by his cavallier manners. His poems represent scents of plains, past days, bohemian life and Danube river. Poems sing about love, horses running freely and women.

He finished elementary school in Sombor and enrolled in economics school. As a high school student Zvonko Bogdan was interested in something completely different - acting, so he soon got a trial arrangement at the Sombor Theater.

After a short theater adventure, due to which he left his native Sombor at the age of 19, he moved to Belgrade. Then he started to work on his second career as a singer.

Zvonko Bogdan has been living in Subotica since 1980, in a house he and his wife bought while moving from Belgrade. Zvonko Bogdan singa original and traditional songs, especially those related to the Bunjevci nation, accompanied by the Tamburitza orchestra.

The first author's song "Svake noći tebi pevam" was recorded on December 3, 1968. One of the poems that he is known for, which he composed is "Hej salaši na severu Bačke".

He celebrated 45 years of work with a concert in November 2013 at the Sava Centre in Belgrade.

Feliks Lajko



Felix Lajko, born on December 17, 1974 in Bačka Topola is a famous Hungarian violinist, zither player and composer. He plays a mix of several musical styles: gypsy, folk, classical music, rock, blues, jazz and improvised melodies using traditional string instruments characteristic to the Pannonian plain.

At concerts, he plays mostly a violin alone or accompanied by a small group of musicians. He was born in Bačka Topola. He started playing zither from the age of ten. His first contact with the violin was when he was 12 years old.

He completed six years of music education within three school years. After that, he stopped his formal education and turned to concert playing. He performed alongside with the world-renowned Japanese butu dancer, Minom Tanaka and French band Noir Desir.

He performed many times with Romanian violinist Alexander Balanescu and Boban Marković's trumpet orchestra. He composed music for some theater performances. Beside all the things he did, he wrote music for performance ‘States Enemy’ at the Subotica Theater.

He participated in many fictitious films and Mikloš Jančo made a short film about Lajko, entitled "Play, Felix, Play!". In 2000, he wrote music for the performance ‘Ka novoj Atlantidi’, which was performed at the Venetian biennial.

Lajko also composed music for the film Delta, by Kornél Mundruczó, in which he starred as a lead role. A film that won a small prize in Cannes and was nominated for the Golden Palm.

That was a winning film at the Hungarian Film Festival and Lajko was awarded for the best original music at the festival.

Đula Mešter



Đula Mešter was born on April 2, 1972 in Subotica. The Serbian volleyball of Hungarian origin, who won a gold medal with the Yugoslav volleyball team at the 2000 Summer Olympic games is 2.03m tall and on court he play a mid-blocker.

He also took part in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.

Since March 2019, he has been elected as vice-president of the Volleyball Federation of Serbia.

Davor Štefanek



Davor Štefanek is Serbian wrestler and national wrestler in Greek-Roman style. He is the world champion from 2014 and the best sportsman of Serbia in the same year, according to the newspaper Sport.

He was a member of the wrestling club Spartak Subotica, then a member of Proleter from Zrenjanin, and then he returned to Spartak. He participated in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and in Beijing 2008.

He won a bronze medal at Las Vegas World Cup 2015 and a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He started his career in his native town Subotica, and was soon noticed by the experts.

He also fought for Partizan in the European Champions Cup, when he won the strongest club competition on the Old Continent and was named the best competitor.

In 2006, he was named the best wrestling champion of the European Champions Cup.

He was also declared an Athlete of the Year of Subotica in the category of seniors in 2008, when he won the bronze medal at the European Championship.

Nikola Kalinić



Nikola Kalinić, basketball player, was born in Subotica on November 8, 1991. Nikola comes from a sports family. His father Zoran is a former national athletic table tennis player.

He plays at the wing position, and currently plays for Fenerbahce. He is a standard member of the Serbian national team. He was part of the most successful generation in the history of Red Star that managed to win the triple crown in the 2014/15 season.

Kalinić had a professional debut in club Spartak in Subotica. In July 2014, he signed a three-year contract with the Red Star. He particularly excelled in the season finale when decisive matches came. First and foremost in the semi-finals of the ABA League with the Partizan team deciding not only the finalists but also the Euroleague placement.

In addition to placing in the TOP 16 Euroleague with the team, all domestic competitions were won: Radivoj Korac Cup, Adriatic League and Serbian Championship. In doing so, he became part of the Red Star generation that has achieved the greatest successes in the history of the red and white.

With the junior selections of the national team in 2013, he won silver at the Mediterranean Games and bronze at the Universiade. He made his national team debut at the 2013 European Championships in Slovenia. The following year at the World Cup in Spain he was even more notable.

He made it to the top five, notably standing out in the eighth finals game against Greece when he scored 12 points and had two spectacular dunks.

One of them was chosen for the best dunk, as well as the second best move of the entire championship where the Serbian national team won a silver medal.