you have a penchant for all things creepy, gothic and frankly downright painful
then be sure to pay a visit to either of the city’s torture themed museums –
yes there really are TWO!
You will find both museums of barbaric mortal
misery situated in the heart of the city centre, a short walk away from each
other and perfectly positioned for easy access from our fantastic city
apartments. Diehard fans of gothic fare may wish to explore both locations
although as far as we are aware there is no financially rewarding discount for
such grim dedication.
Both museums depict the gruesome history of
torture through the centuries particularly focussing on the medieval times when
frankly you could be violently punished for just about anything. Most of the
devices described and exhibited here appear to have led to a grisly and painful
death whether the tormentors got the information they required or not.
If you become more than a little anxious at
the suggestion of meagre thumbscrews then neither of these museums will make a
comfortable afternoon’s entertainment. Providing comfort is of course the
absolute opposite of the function of the relics on display. We remain unsure if
any of the frightening, disturbing and eye-watering devices on show are
authentic antiques or reproductions. Either way everything you will see looks
old and alarmingly ‘well-used’.
All the items on display are accompanied
with rather lurid textural descriptions and alarming visual depictions
explaining how and why they were used. No one was ever likely to survive the
likes of the infamous iron maiden – a sarcophagus like creation with hinged
doors and sharp spikes on the inside. It takes pride of place at the Museum of
Medieval Torture Instruments Amsterdam on Damrak however it is possible that it
never actually existed at all in history. There is a theory that it was created
at the very end of 18th century as a hoax. True or false, it
continues to draw a crowd at the museum. Many of the documented gory torture
instruments from the middle ages and beyond were reproduced during the 19th
century. It is possible that they were created for exhibiting to the public and
later snapped up by collectors of the macabre.
Torture was often used as a deterrent as
with the case of the scold’s bridle. This disturbing metal device curved around
the head of the wearer and was locked in place to ensure that they could not
open their mouth to talk…gossip…or nag!
Few visitors will fail to recognise Madame
Guillotine at the Torture Museum on the Singel. You may like to re-enact the
more hands-on version at the Damrak museum.
Here you can pose in a set of stocks whilst a helpful friend can model
alongside, waving a rubber axe as they take your photo. Torture and execution has never been such
The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments
Amsterdam is the newer of the museums and has only been open for a few years. It
is arguably considerably better value for money than the rather tired and
gloomy (although it is a rather appropriate ambience) Torture Museum on Damrak.
The layout and overall finish are more impressive whilst there are over 100
instruments on display in five distinct areas. A more informative historical
background is provided along with drawings, photos and creepy waxy figures
modelling some of the devices! The museum offers a 20% discount on the entrance
fee if bought online and it is also just a 2 minute walk away from Central
Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments
Damrak 33, 1012 LK, Amsterdam
: 9.00am – 10.00pm
: Adults €10.00 (online:
€8.00), Children € 4.00 (online: € 4.00)
+ 31 20 528 5482
Singel 449, 1012 WP, Amsterdam
: Daily 10.00am – 11.00pm
: Adults €7.50, Children €
+ 31 20 320 66 42
Visitors who enjoy the city’s torture
museums also love the Amsterdam Dungeon where you can learn all about the
darker history of the city. The tour lasts nearly 2 hours and includes a ride
on an indoor rollercoaster as well as a gloriously spooky gift shop!
Rokin 78, 1012 KW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Every day 11.00am – 5.00pm
+31 20 530 8500