The Maribor synagogue is adjacent to the city wall facing the Drava riverbank. The synagogue was probably built in the late thirteenth century, enlarged toward the mid-fourteenth century and reconstructed again in 1465–1477. After for expulsion of Jews from Maribor in 1495, the synagogue was converted into a church of All Saints in 1501. A bell tower war added in 1660. The church was closed in 1785 during the reforms of Joseph II and became a warehouse. In 1811 the building was purchased by the townspeople, split into two floors, and served as a storehouse and dwelling. The synagogue was restored in 1992–2001 to house the Center of Jewish Cultural Heritage.
The present synagogue's composite mass includes the southern men's hall, the north-western vestibule, and northern extension, which are diachronous compartments located on diverse ground levels and covered by a complex hipped tile roof. Windows of the prayer hall are pointed and roundel (the latter filled with gothic tracery), windows of the northern extension are rectangular, and those of the vestibule are segment-headed. On the exterior, north and east facades are plastered and whitewashed; south and west facades expose bare masonry. The entrance door, located on the northern side of the vestibule, is pointed, framed by a stepped portal. The southern wall of the prayer hall facing the riverbank is retained with stepped buttresses.
The interior spaces of the synagogue results from numerous reconstructions, and not all of those are reflected in the present (2020) edifice. As show archeological finds, on its initial stage the synagogue could feature a smaller, almost square prayer hall. Possibly, that space was spanned by a single cloister vault. On the second stage, the hall was expanded westward to obtain the present oblong proportions (2:3), and spanned either by two bays of groined vaults (after Simon Paulus), or acquire a six-bay, two-pier layout of other medieval European synagogues (after Janez Premk). On the third stage, the hall could be spanned either by three bays of groined vaults (Paulus), or retain the six-bay layout of the previous stage (Premk). Nowadays, the synagogue’s spaces are spanned by questionable restitutions of the historical vaults. The vestibule – despite some remains of the ribbed vaulting – is spanned by barrel vaults with retaining arches, the northern extension – with sail vaults, and the prayer hall – with two bays of groined vaults featuring replicas of hewn corbels, ribs, and bosses. A segment-headed Torah niche is located on the eastern wall of the prayer hall, below a roundel window. It is possible that the round-headed niche on the southern wall of the hall corresponds to the initial location of the Torah ark.
One of the earliest preserved synagogues in Europe.
Gothic synagogue of the 13th-14th century
Zusia Efron, "Omanut yehudit beyugoslavia", Pinkas hakehilot: yugoslavia (Jerusalem, 1988), p. 323;
Ruth Ellen and Samuel D. Gruber, "Jewish Monuments in Slovenia," Časopis za zgodovino in narodopisje 71/36, issue 1-2 (summer 2000), pp. 145-148;
Janez Mikuž, "Nekdanja židovska četrt in nekdanja sinagoga v Mariboru," Časopis za zgodovino in narodopisje 71/36, issue 1-2 (summer 2000), pp. 159-171 with ills.;
Simon Paulus, Die Architektur der Synagoge im Mittelalter: Überlieferung und Bestand (Petersberg: Imhof, 2007), 401-404;
Harck, Ole. Archäologische Studien zum Judentum in der europäischen Antike und dem mitteleuropäischen Mittelalter. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2014. P. 566.
Janez Premk and Anja Premk, Mariborska sinagoga (Ljubljana: France Stele Institute of Art History, 2015);
Janez Premk, “Maribor Synagogue Reexamined,” Acta Historiae Artis Slovenica 23, no. 1 (2018): 69–92;
Premk, Janez. “Maribor Synagogue: Between Facts and Reinterpretation.” Arts 9, no. 1 (January 10, 2020): 1-22 https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010005.
Premk, Janez and Mihaela Hudelia, Jewish Heritage: A Guidebook to Slovenia (Ljubljana: JAS, 2014)