The Sinister on Show in the Torture Museum

Amsterdam Tourist Guide: Torture Museum

Warning!

Some of the images used below are of torture devices found in the Amsterdam Torture Museum. However, for discretion, the images have been obscured. Use the slider to see the unobscured image. The choice to view is up to you.

This Amsterdam museum is not for the faint of heart. Possibly the most gruesome of attractions the city has to offer, if you have a fascination with the darker side of human history, you will love the Torture Museum. You will find it on the historical Singel, the inner-most canal of the city’s distinctive semi-circular ring of canals. The Singel once served as the moat which encircled Amsterdam during the Middle Ages, and is now home to the sinister Torture Museum.

Our Torturous Past

When you step through the unassuming glass doors of the Torture Museum, you will be entering a dark world, both literally and metaphorically. In the museum, you will wind your way through dimly-lit corridors and small dark spaces. Contained within, you will find a plethora of disturbing torture devices and Medieval instruments of punishment and death. The museum opened its doors in 1988 with the idea that such torturous practices belong in a museum and not a civilised society.

Medieval Torture on Display

The Torture Museum is home to hundreds of authentic tools and devices that were used by public and religious authorities up until only a few centuries ago. From thumb screws and the rack, to the Inquisition chair or the terrifyingly named skullcracker, you may find some of the cruel and unusual instruments of torture on display here unsettling and horrifying. With detailed historic backgrounds given in multiple languages, you will come away with a disturbing insight into the sadistic side of European history.

Punishments and Verdicts in the Middle Ages

This frightful Torture Museum exhibition details the painful history of punishment across Europe during the Middle Ages. Here you will find over forty instruments of torture, used by European authorities and ecumenical institutions, to punish those who broke the law or spoke out against those in power. You may be disturbed by the particularly cruel contraptions devised by religious orders to punish the crimes of heresy and witchcraft.

Under Penalty of Death

Many of the instruments you can view in the Torture Museum were designed to illicit confessions from the “guilty”. However, you will also discover the creative ways the sentence of death was carried out across Europe. Whether it was at the gallows, the guillotine or the hands of a sword-wielding executioner, you won’t need to use your imagination as you wander through this bleak collection.

The Torture Museum in Amsterdam, whilst disconcerting, is a valuable chance for you to marvel at how far we have progressed since the Dark Ages, no matter how dark times may seem today.

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Further Reading

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