Lake Palić

Lake Palić (Serbian: Палићко језеро, romanizedPalićko jezero; Hungarian: Palicsi-tó) is a lake 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Subotica, near the town of Palić, in Serbia. It covers an area of 3.8 square kilometres (1.5 sq mi). The average depth of the lake is 2 metres (6 ft 7 in).

Lake Palić
Palićko jezero / Палићко језеро
Palic lake view.jpg
Coordinates46°03′N 19°45′E / 46.050°N 19.750°E / 46.050; 19.750Coordinates: 46°03′N 19°45′E / 46.050°N 19.750°E / 46.050; 19.750
Basin countriesSerbia
Max. length8 km (26,000 ft)
Max. width1 km (3,300 ft)
Surface area4.2 km2 (1.6 sq mi)
Average depth2 m (6.6 ft)
Max. depth3.5 m (11 ft)


Despite popular belief, Lake Palić is not a remnant of the vast Pannonian Sea which covered this area and completely drained out some 600,000 years ago. It is estimated that both the Palić and Ludoš lakes originated in the early Holocene, around 10,000 years ago, when the last major changes in the surrounding terrain occurred. Prior to that, since the draining of the sea, the European climate was much colder, with the exchange of the cold and dry and the warm and wet periods. Alternatively being frozen and defrosted, the rocks crushed under the ice and crumbled into the dust, which formed sand and loess. The winds would then disperse the loess into the valleys of the Danube and Tisza rivers to the southeast. On the wet grounds, the loess became more compact, becoming thinner and claylike. The surrounding dried land became more and more elevated thus creating the depressions which began to collect water. The process was helped with the erosion which was caused by the water flowing into the depressions. Due to the unstable hydrological regime, the lake constantly disappeared and reappeared through history.[1][2]

The lake is shallow, with an average depth of 1.5 to 2 m (4 ft 11 in to 6 ft 7 in), while the deepest point is 3.5 m (11 ft). It is 8 km (26,000 ft) long and up to 1 km (3,300 ft) wide.[2]

The idea that the lake was remnant of the sea was influenced by its geographical location (in the bed of the former sea) and the fact that the water in the lake was salty. It is more likely that both lakes and the nearby river of Körös-ér are remnants of the former rivers which spilled over the Pannonian basin. Surveys showed that the loess layers are younger than the alluvial ones, so the lakes can't be remains of the former Danube's flow as the wind would naturally cover them with sand and loess.[1]

Human historyEdit

The popular local legend of the lake's origin, which also explains the name, says that the shepherd Paul (Pal in Hungarian, Pavle in Serbian) was pasturing his sheep in the area. He had a lamb with the golden fleece but the lamb disappeared one day and the inconsolable Paul cried so much that his tears flooded the pasture and created the salty lake. The lake was then named Paligo Palus in Latin, Palics in Hungarian or Pavlova bara in Serbian.[1][2][3]

The lake was mentioned for the first time in June 1462 when Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus bestowed it to his mother, Queen Mother of Hungary, Erzsébet Szilágyi,[4] as part of the puszta-like Csongrád County. It was mentioned as Palij. In Ottoman inscription from 1580, it was recorded as the village of Palegyhaza in Subotica nahiyah. The writing says the village has 10 houses. and that all pay taxes.[2]

In 1845 the first spa bathroom with wooden baths and an inn were built.[2] Data on the quality of the water originate from 1847 when the first chemical analysis was done. The lake became a spa and the water was used for the soda water production. From the late 19th and into the most of the 20th century, the cyclic development of the overgrowth followed by the fish kill were common. In 1970 the eutrophication reached its peak and almost all the wildlife in the lake died. In 1971 the lake was dried, the sludge was dredged and removed, the filters were placed and the lake was refilled in 1976, but in the next decades, the lake got polluted again.[3]

The town of Palić is located on the northern shores of the lake, where in time parks and hotels developed. As it wasn’t allowed at the time for men and women to bath together, the Muški Štrand (Male beach) was formed on the east, and Ženski Štrand (Female beach) on the west. They are divided by the small promontory, which is named Ljubavni Rt (Love Cape).[5]


Over 200 bird species live in the protected section of the lake. During the emptying and refilling of the lake in the 1970s, artificial island made of the dried sludge were formed. They became known as the birds islands, and are today the only nesting location of black-headed gull in Serbia. Surrounding shrubs are habitats of some of the most endangered birds in Serbia, like the migrating pygmy cormorant and razorbill.[2]


Only in 2015 a spatial plan was finished, which included the area between the lakes Palić and the neighboring Krvavo Lake, which is divided from Palić by a small embankment. The covered area includes 8.7 ha (21 acres) on which the lots were enlarged in an effort to make it easier for the construction of the future complex (closed and opened swimming pools, aqua park, hotel complex, etc.) All previous plans also include the revitalization of the Palić Spa. Works on improving the lake area include: removal of all sources which pollute the lake with nitrogen and phosphorus, which effectively kills the lake; construction of the sewage system around the lake; creation of the protective 25-metre-wide (82 ft) buffer zone which would prevent the nutrients from the arable land in the vicinity to reach the lake; replacement of the fish species in the lake; tightened regime of the purifying sewage water from Subotica, which still empties into the lake. Some of the experimental works on a small section of the lake which is not opened for tourists showed some success, but as of 2017 everything is still just at the planning stage.[4] Expropriation of the surrounding land is expected to be finished by the end of 2017 which would allow the formation of the buffer zone and the sewage in the town of Palić was to be done by 2018.[3]

The sand filter apparatus (peskolov, "sand catcher") managed to remove enough phosphate from the water to lower it down to below 1 mm/l (0.18 in/imp gal) while the nitrogen level remained a bit above the allowed quantities even though the purifier removed 70% of nitrogen. Still, the pinky foam formed on the lake several times in the 2017-18 period and the results showed that the quality of the water deteriorated. Experts involved in the process of preservation don't have a definite answer why: a long period of previous pollution, weather conditions, draught, several malfunctions of the filter (January-March and August-September 2017), etc.[6] The 2018 tests showed that the major pollutant of the water are fecal bacteria. It is estimated that it will take at least 5 years for the lake to heal.[7]

In the spring of 2019, it was decided to fish out the Prussian carp, omnivorous and voracious fish, which became abundant in the lake. In several months, over 20 tons of Prussian carp were fished. After the project was done, results showed the first improvement in the quality of the lake water since 1998. Though still categorized as the lowest, fifth category and not suitable for swimming, the water had less ammoniacal and nitrite compounds, and less algae while zooplankton Daphnia, which feeds on phytoplankton, reappeared in the lake.[8] Another problem is the poaching. Apart from the direct damage in reducing number of animals (including the protected European pond turtle), it also affects the natural purification of water. The main catch for the poachers is the zander, which, as a predator, is very important in the lake's food chain.[9]

Further expropriation needed for the buffer zone was conducted in 2019-2020. The entire surrounding area was already expropriated in 1974, when the lake was emptied. However, the erosion since then eroded the banks, so the privately owned parcels which were further from the lake, are now on its banks. The buffer zone consists of four layers: 1) reed bed, in the water itself, which prevents the erosion of the banks by the waves and forms habitat for the birds; 2) bank slopes, inhabited by the herbaceous plants and habitat for the reptiles; 3) grassy areas, used only by those who administer and watch the protected areas; 4) pedestrian and bicycle path, with benches and stops where possible. In order to create the buffer zone, a monoculture of wild blackberry shrubs which spread all over the lake, had to be eradicated. It was replaced with other plants, mainly alfalfa, which prevent expansion of the invasive herbaceous plants. In February 2020, it was reported that some bird species, previously absent, were spotted at the lake.[10]


Lake Palić has a relatively short summer season. Influenced by the Hungarian border wellness and spa centers which operate the entire year (Mórahalom, Szeged, Makó, Gyula), the idea of building a wellness complex with the spa was launched in 2006. Master plan for Palić was made in 2007 and the revitalization plan in 2014.[3] Construction of the wellness and spa center began on 15 December 2018. The entire complex will cover an area of 44,000 m2 (470,000 sq ft) with 10 swimming pools, water slides and other aqua park attractions.[11] The works stalled so in February 2020 the government stepped inn and changed the contractor giving it deadline of 8 months to finish the works. Despite claims of the local tourist organization that number of tourists grew, the corresponding minister Rasim Ljajić said that the government had to intervene since out of the 18 priority tourist destinations declared by the government, Palić is the only one where number of visitors decreased.[12]

The lake is partially encircled with the 4.5 km (2.8 mi) long pedestrian and bicycle path.[2]

Main points of interest, mostly along the northern shore where the town of Palić reaches the lake, include the 19th century Hotel Park, surrounding park made of plane trees planted in the 1910s, former pulmonary sanatorium, luxurious Hotel Jezero, fairy-styled villa Lujza, red-orange castle and the restaurant “Riblja Čarda”. “Riblja Čarda” was the location of the “first modern Olympic games”, held in 1880, sixteen years before the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympics. The games included fencing, running, stone throwing, wrestling and bicycle riding around the lake, which became a traditional event. Tha games were organized by Lajoš Vermeš, a school friend and a roommate of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of modern Olympism.[5] The vicinity of the lake is the location of many vineries, salaš’ adapted for the tourists and the Palić Watertower.[5]

Along the adjoining Krvavo Lake, a housing for the participants of the Palić's 1970s Youth work actions were built. In the 1980s the venue housed elementary school pupils and high school students, while in the 1990s it was settled with the refugees from the Yugoslav wars. In 2014, a construction of the largest students' resort in Serbia began on this location. It covers an area of 4.5 ha (11 acres), and when completely finished in 2021 it will have a total of 700 beds. The complex also includes sports and conference halls. First visitors are expected in the spring of 2020.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Istine i zablude o Palićkom jezeru" (in Serbian). 18 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Andrijana Cvetićanin (29 October 2017), "Miholjsko leto na Panonskom moru" [Indian summer on Pannonian Sea], Politika-Magazin, No. 1048 (in Serbian), pp. 20–21
  3. ^ a b c d Milica Barjaktarević (1 July 2017). "Trag u prostoru: Pavlova bara ili Palić" (in Serbian). Radio Television Serbia.
  4. ^ a b Aleksandra Isakov (30 May 2017), "Palić, banja i kupalište bez kupanja", Politika (in Serbian)
  5. ^ a b c Dorotea Čarnić (4 August 2019). Валцер у сенци столетних платана [Waltz in the shade of centennial plane trees]. Politika-Magazin, , No. 1140 (in Serbian). pp. 20–21.
  6. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (11 February 2018). "Havarija na prečistaču, jezero pati" [Malfunction of the purifier, the lake suffers]. Politika (in Serbian).
  7. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (17 August 2018). "Настављају се радови на спасавању Палића" [Works on the saving of the Palić continue]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 09.
  8. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (7 July 2019). Вода у Палићу боља, али још није добра [Water in Palić better, still not good]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 20.
  9. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (4 October 2019). Мештани пријавили крађу рибе на Палићу [Residents reported fish theft at Palić]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 23.
  10. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (16–17 February 2020). Завршава се заштитни појас око Палића [Protective belt around the Palić is being finished]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 27.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  11. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (16 December 2018). "Почиње градња велнес центра на Палићу" [Construction of the wellness center in Palić begins]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 11.
  12. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (27 February 2020). Натавља се градња спа-центра на Палићу [Construction of spa-center in Palić continues]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 22.
  13. ^ Aleksandra Isakov (19 November 2019). Од пролећа први студенти у одмаралишту на Палићу [In spring, first students in the Palić resort]. Politika (in Serbian). p. 20.


  • Seleši, Đ. (2006): Voda Ludaškog jezera, JP „Palić-Ludaš“
  • Seleši, Đ (2000): Voda Palićkog jezera od 1781. do 1999. godine
  • Treitz, P (1903): A Palicsi tó környékének talajismereti leírasa. - Földtani közlöny, 33. K. 316-321

External linksEdit