The small, private Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments serves Amsterdam’s tourist crowds, though probably not the faint of heart. It is crammed full of ghastly implements designed to worm the truth out of sinners in medieval times, when torture was considered appropriate punishment for any perceived crime, from adultery to treason.
Artifacts on display range from gallows and four-pronged heretics’ forks to interrogation chairs embedded with nails. On occasion, different forms of torture were combined: a prisoner rendered immobile in an iron cage might also be severely lashed to make him break down and confess more readily.
Altogether more than 40 macabre torture devices are displayed over five gory floors, all accompanied by informative descriptions of the implements of pain and how they were utilized. A couple of photo opportunities with guillotines and stocks provide some much-needed light relief.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tours are self-guided, allowing you to explore at your own pace.
- The museum is not accessible to wheelchair users.
- The museum shares an entrance with a tourism agency.
- Look around for discount flyers before you go—many hotels and tourist information booths stock them.
How to Get There
The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments is centrally located among bars and hotels on a busy Damrak street, a 4-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal train station. Be careful if using web-mapping services, as they may instead direct you to the Torture Museum on Singel Canal, a 15-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments is open daily from 9am to 10pm, with the last ticket sold at 9:30pm, and attracts a regular flow of visitors throughout the day. As the museum is small, you don’t need to set aside much time to visit—less than an hour should be sufficient.
Though the names are similar, the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments should not be confused with Amsterdam’s Torture Museum. The two are not connected. With guided tours and learning packages for schoolchildren, the Torture Museum is a more polished affair, but also home to dozens of torture instruments collected from around Europe.