Palic, the lake and the tourist centre under the same name, used to be a trendy resort and spa at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The local scenery has always been enhanced, updated and changing; however it avoided the challenges imposed by industrialising tourism. At present, Palic is an ideal rest and relax destination. There you can enjoy the shade of hundred-year old trees, swim in the lake and the thermal pool, or simply enjoy the excellent offer in region-specific food and drink. In brief, Palic is unique architecture, sport fields and attentive hosts.
Lake Palic and the settlement lie at 46o03' 35'' of the north geographic latitude and 19 o 43' 29'' east geographic longitude. They are on the most northerly part of Serbia, 8 km from the nearest larger city, Subotica.
The climate in Palic is moderately continental. In average, there are about 2100 sunny hours during the year (likewise in Opatija, in the Croatian Riviera). The mean air temperature in summer is 20 o C. The typical wind direction is northwest-southeast.
The lakeside is 17 km long, while the lake occupies an area of 4.6 km2 and is divided into 4 sectors. The most important sector foreseen for the tourists stretches over an area of 3.8 km2 . The lake’s average depth is 1.9 m. During bathing season, lake water temperature varies between 18o C and 25o C. The lake is rich in fish. There are 3 attractive beaches within a radius of one kilometre.
The Origin of the Lake
Legend says that the lake is a remnant of the Pannonia Sea, yet formed by the teardrops of a certain shepherd, named Pavle, who used to herd his sheep on the location.
The origins of the lake go back to prehistoric times, and though it was fed by springs, most of the lake water came from precipitation. The water from the neighbouring area had flown to the lake and flushed out sodium chloride, hence it became salty.
Lake Palic was first mentioned in written documents as Pali (Paly) in 1462. The first drawing, i.e. the map of the lake (Paligo Palus) is from 1690.
Palic Resort and Spa
The healing effects of the lake water and the mud were known as early as the 18th century. General practitioners from Subotica suggested building a spa on the shores of the lake in 1837. In 1845, besides the spa building comprising a few cabins, a restaurant was built as well. These facilities were the foundations of the subsequent resort and spa.
Visitors came to Palic not only to recover (from diseases of bones and skin), but also to enjoy the superior offer in entertainment. The golden age of Palic Resort and Spa started in the 1880s after the Budapest-Zemun railway had been opened in 1883 and the introduction of tram in Subotica in 1897. Until World War I, the number of visitors to Palic Resort and Spa was increasing.
The Aftermath of Wars
After World War, then as part of Yugoslavia, the Men’s Lido was built on the eastern shore of Lake Palic. It was the largest facility of the kind in Yugoslavia then.
The embellishment of Palic kept on after World War II. A modern Summer Stage was made of stone amid the pine forest in 1950, which have hosted many artists since then. The ZOO was opened in the same year.
In the 1960s, a Sports Centre was built with football, volleyball, basketball and handball fields. A resort area was built on the eastern shore, where many Subotica-based companies built summer houses for their employees.
Records from the end of the 19th century say, that due to permanent drops in water levels, decrease in the number of fishes, calm winds and wastewater influx, aquatic plants had started to flourish in the lake. That process had been repeated at times.
The situation culminated in the summer of 1970, when the massive pollution and uncontrolled algal bloom caused the lack of oxygen in the water and it resulted in the desolation of the living world.
Therefore, the lake was dried and desludged in 1971. A wastewater treatment plant was built, and in 1976 the lake was refilled with fresh water. Since then, the lake water quality has been perused and watched.
The Recent History of Palic
The first thermo-mineral water well was drilled in 1978, and the Thermal Pool was opened in 1984.
Besides the wastewater treatment plant, the Tisa-Palic Canal was commissioned in 1995 and it enhanced lake water quality significantly.
In the style of old villas, the Hotel Prezident was built in 2000, and after that some of the old villas, resort houses were regenerated and turned into small luxury hotels.
Palic is well known as a tourist destination offering quality, and since 2007 it has an adopted Master Plan, guiding its development.
A Stroll in Palic
During the regeneration of Palic in the early 20th century, the architects of the buildings intended for rest and leisure, had the idea of entering Palic Spa through a lavishly decorated entrance, the Water Tower - Vodotoranj. Then, you enter the main avenue of the Park - Velikog parka, where the firsts trees were planted in 1840. This Park lies on an area of 19 hectares and represents a unique environment where natural values and architectural heritage are intertwined.
Besides the mentioned Water Tower, this heritage comprises impressive facilities for rest and leisure: the Grand Terrace, the Music Pavilion and the Women’s Lido. All of these buildings were formally opened in 1912 and were designed in Hungarian style art nouveau inspired by Hungarian folk elements, handicrafts, laces and embroidery. These exceptional buildings are the work of Marcell Komor and Dezső Jakab, who designed the City Hall and the Synagogue in the neighbouring city of Subotica.
Before you reach the Grand Terrace take a turn towards the Tennis Club - Teniskom klubu, which was established in 1878, only three years after the written rules of this sport were set. Close to it, hidden amid the old trees, you will find one of the most beautiful stages in the country.
The Summer Stage - Letnja pozornica was made of uncut stone in line with the design of Baltazar Dulic, an architect from Subotica, and since 1950 it has been the venue of many concerts, festivals and performances. The Grand Terrace -Velika terasa, once called the „Kur-Saloon“ and deliberately designed with a walk-through passage, leaves nobody indifferent. Once it was renowned for its monumental ball room. Yet, the two spacious terraces turned towards the lake are the heart of the building, which, after the regeneration, will serve as a spacious and modern conference centre. On the left and on the right sides of the Terrace there are two hotels -hotel Park i hotel Jezero- built in the mid-19th century. The famous blue vases - Plave vaze can be found in front of them. These vases, depicting the god of waters, arrived in Palic in 1910 as the gift by the owner of the famous Zsolnay Manufacture from Pécs. Similar vases decorated the Vienna City Park once.
From the Grand Terrace, your stroll may continue towards the lake. You will leave the Music Pavilion - Muzički paviljon behind, which was built to host promenade concerts, still often organised for the guests in Palic. At the end of the promenade from the Water Tower, through the Grand Terrace to the lake, there is a Memorial Fountain - Spomen česma. Nobody knows for sure whether the figure depicted on it is the fairy of the lake, born from the waves of Lake Palic or someone else, but it is known that the formal opening of the fountain on 15th September 1912 meant the end of the regeneration works in Palic Spa.
The promenade then goes on along the lakeside to the Women’s Lido - Ženski štrand which had long ago, under different social standards, hidden bathing women from the inquiring look of passers-by, although its unusual architecture still attracts visitors to stop by and have a look.
The stroll along the shore named after Lajos Vermes leads you to Vermes’s villas built in 1893: the Lujza Villa and the Owl’s Fastness -Vile Luzja i Bagojvar and the monument of Lajos Vermes- spomenik Lajošu Vermešu. The monument, erected in 2004, was made by Vera Gabric Pocuca a sculptor from Subotica. Vermes a proprietor from Subotica was a maecenas, sports-fan and competitor , and from 1880 till 1914, in the spirit of the Olympics, organised sport competitions in Palic and gathered the best athletes from Europe far and wide. The venues and fields for those competitions were in the vicinity of these buildings. The fish restaurant - Riblja čarda on the lakeside used to be a gym.
Although we reach the end of the promenade, our stroll in Palic has not finished yet. We suggest to go back to the Grand Terrace and go northwards a bit, where you will find a fountain - fontana, made by Bela Našic in 1913. Next to it is the "weather house“ - Kućica za vreme erected in 1914. There are numerous sculptures in this part of the Park, whereof the bronze figures of two nannies - Bakica are especially interesting, since this artefact, depicting two elderly women peacefully sitting on a bench, perfectly fit into the surrounding. This pleasing sculpture was made by Zlata Baranja, a sculptor from Palic.
The image of Palic is not made by the buildings and monuments only, but also by details, such as Hamvas’ linden Hamvaševa lipa planted in memory of the writer, who wrote the Philosophy of Wine, often referred to during Palic wine festivals.
There is also a restaurant, called Mala gostiona, in operation on the same venue since 1853. Owing to its tradition and quality food, it became the synonym of Palic.
Further on, there is one of the preserved old tram stations tramvajskih stanica. Tram connected Subotica and Palic and was in operation between 1898 and 1974. On the other side of the road, there is a corner-building, once the Abbazia Cinema-Abazija, which borrowed its name from the Italian name of Opatija, a city so akin in spirit to Palic.
From there, you enter the Split Avenue, the avenue of plane trees and the most attractive villas. The first villas in Palic - vile na Paliću were built in the mid 19th century and building such and similar resort houses was quite fashionable in the region at that time. The villas were built for the summer season and modelled after Swiss resort houses with emphasised carved porches. The gallery of Marija Karlovic Gabric - Galerija is one among these villas. The exhibited paintings of flowers and Palic- around 100 - were made by this well known painter.
Your stroll in Palic may end there in the Split Alley, but you can also set out to discover some other local secrets from there.