The monumental architecture of the Behrens Synagogue combines the traditional typology of sacred buildings with the language of the modern movement. Rationality and minimalism are distinguished by lyrical, expressive elements in accordance with the original purpose of the building. The architect places this building in a difficult terrain and at a crossroads so subtly that it looks rather inconspicuous from the outside. Well, as you can see, it's extremely impressive inside.
However, the creation of this work would not be possible without the overall atmosphere of the social and economic expansion of interwar Žilina. The building enthusiasm in the city proves the emergence of great modern architecture, even entire neighborhoods from talented domestic architects. At the same time, one of the central engines of modernization of the city was the Jewish community just outlooked. This is evidenced by the construction of a new synagogue on the site of the old church from 1861.
The new synagogue was not only designed by a world-famous architect, but in 1928 it was preceded by a competition attended by other internationally renowned architects - Josef Hoffmann, one of the fathers of the world-famous Viennese Art Nouveau and Lipót Baumhorn, a Central European synagogue specialist, together with domestic young architects Michalo Maximilian Scheer and Jozef Zweigenthal.
The construction (1929 - 1931) was led by the Žilina architect Žigo Wertheimer, the contractor was the construction company of the Novákov brothers.
From the massive stone base of a similar medieval fortress, in which the entrance and service areas of the synagogue are located, grows a cube of the temple space with a capacity for 750 believers (450 men in the central area and 300 women in three emporiums). Orientationally extended corners of the main mass with a rough plaster structure create a kind of transition between a robust base and a clear, easy-acting dome with a height of 17.5 and a diameter of 16 meters.
The painting of the Star of David in the dome is one of the most impressive parts of the work. In his only project of the synagogue, Peter Behrens achieved a dynamic to mystical atmosphere of the interiors, which was enhanced by colorful stained glass windows. He is one of his last works, which he designed in the spirit of expressionism.
The Neological Synagogue is considered to be one of the most remarkable monuments of modern interwar architecture with European significance. Since 1963, it has been a national cultural monument (registered in the Central List of Cultural Monuments on 5 November 1963 under number 89/1963). In a survey in 2000, architects ranked it among the 5 most important civic buildings of the 20th century in Slovakia.