As a regional hub, Rzeszów was for centuries home to a large number of Jews. At the outbreak of WWII the Jewish population numbered around 18,000 – about one-third of the city’s total. Following Rzeszów's 1939 seizure by the Germans (who renamed it 'Reichshof'), persecution of the community began. Most were sent to the extermination camp at Bełżec in 1942, where they were murdered. Not much trace of this once-vibrant community remains, with the exception of two impressive synagogues, northeast of the Rynek. The 18th-century New Town Synagogue dates originally from the early 18th century and was built in a fusion of Renaissance and baroque styles. It was used by the Germans as a warehouse during WWII, fell into ruin after the war, and now houses a contemporary art gallery. Note the gate on the 1st floor – made of wrought iron and clay, it’s the work of the contemporary sculptor Marian Kruczek. The 17th-century Old Town Synagogue is the smaller and older of the two. Built in Renaissance style, it was partly destroyed by the Germans and now holds the city's archives. It's closed to the general public.