Discover the painful past



The painful truth about the past

Pestilent air around the gallows, death screams on the rack, whooping crowds gathered around the stocks… These seem to be barbarian abuses from the darkest Middle Ages. Fortunately, we live in modern civilisation – we think. However, the historical truth is less comforting.

The exhibition at the Torture Museum shows reality as it was until less than two centuries ago. By setting gruesome examples, public authorities demonstrated their right to do as they pleased with the lives and bodies of their subjects. If the grotesque diversity of instruments of punishment still invokes feelings of horror, that is no more than the effect their designers had in mind…

The executioner was another frightening warning sign in the Middle Ages. Woe to those that break the Law! Although executioners were merely performing their official duties, they and their families were the most despised outcasts in society. The authorities deliberately cultivated such feelings of disgust. However, the executioner’s job required a fair amount of skill. On the scaffold, he had to convince the public that although the sentence was severe, it was just. A swift, well-aimed “coup de grâce” was rewarded with applause…



Torture Museum
Singel 449
1012 WP Amsterdam

+31 (0)20 320 66 42

Opening Hours

The Torture Museum is open daily from 10.00 to 23.00 hours.

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