Not sure what to do during your visit to Amsterdam? Visit the Torture Museum! This is a unique museum that focuses on torture devices from the period of the Middle Ages to the French revolution, which ended in 1799. In this museum, you’ll temporarily go back in time and learn about the different torture devices that were used during this period to torture, interrogate or kill people.
Old canal-side house
The Torture Museum is located in an old canal-side house at the Singel in Amsterdam, at number 449. Straight across from the Torture Museum is the Bloemenmarkt, which forms a stark contrast. One moment, you’re walking amidst colorful flowers, the next you go through a door to find yourself in a world of torture. You’ll feel like you’re right back in the Middle Ages in this building, which matches the atmosphere of all the torture devices, when it was very normal to get statements under torture or to publicly sentence people to death. The museum was founded in 1988, with the idea that these torture devices should only be viewed in museums these days. As such, the museum raises awareness of the actions of Amnesty International and human rights treaties with its visitors.
In the Torture Museum, you can view at least forty different torture devices that were used up to the end of the French Revolution. In the museum, you can find, among others, a guillotine, rack, thumbscrews and inquisitional chair. This is only a few of the things on display at the large exhibition called ‘Punishments and Verdicts in the Middle Ages’. The devices on display are illustrated and have historical background information in eight different languages.
In the past, torture was very normal. Governments used pain to show that they always had the right of possession over the bodies and lives of their subjects, the Spanish Inquisition had access to a full arsenal of torture devices which they used to eliminate the crime of witchcraft and heresy, something they even designed specific devices for. The executioner and his family were the most despised inhabitants of the city, even though the executioner only carried out his official duty. At the scaffold, he convinced the public that the verdict was harsh but justified, after which he was rewarded with applause from the audience.
When you’re looking for something to do in Amsterdam, you should definitely visit the Torture Museum. It’s also possible to get a tour for groups, schools and associations on request. These tours must be booked at least two weeks in advance. For high schools, the Torture Museum offers an educational exercise that has them contemplate torture in current times. If you want more information about the Torture Museum, opening hours or the possibilities for tours, you can contact us using the contact form. On the website itself, you can also find a price list for your visit to the Torture Museum.