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THE AMSTERDAM

TORTURE MUSEUM

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 Amsterdam is a very popular tourist destination. The whole area of the tourist area can sometimes get as crowded as a packed bar. Many of these tourists are there on very short term one or two day trips for legal pot, prostitutes or serious drinking. They certainly don’t go to meet locals and stay at the tiny dirty and divey box hotel rooms where you pay 110 euros a night and are liable to get bed bug bites, to enjoy the lineups at the train station where you need to bring a book to kill time while you wait at the understaffed counters or to use the totally inadequate toilet facilities at the station. Few cities has such poor customer service (OK, try Paris) and considers tourists nothing more than a resource to exploit. For example for the privilege of renting an hotel room on a Saturday night you have to pay for Sunday to wither you want it or not.

 However, as many tourists know and others completely miss, Amsterdam has some exceedingly interesting museums and that you can spend days just enjoying museums that are different from most anywhere else. And I am not referring to the numerous marijuana and sex museums that range from very informative educational places to fronts for live sex shows – although they are certainly there to and a reason for many people to go.

 To start with Amsterdam is a museum in itself. Just walking around the old center you see buildings hundreds of years old in a stunning old style.   This one with the shutters sort of stood out for some reason.

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 But there are also normal museums. The history museum is superb and the Van Gogh museum of art is something I found extremely enjoyable. There are numerous self portraits and you see how thoughts of himself changed as the years passed. Other museums that you don't see in every city include The Anne Frank house, the Rembrandt house museum (Where he actually lived from 1639 to 1659) and the Houseboat museum which shows you what its like to live on a boat. There are lots of other museums and you get touristy places like Madame Tussauds to.

But one of Amsterdam's most gruesome, interesting and unusual museums would be the small private Medieval Torture museum which shows displays of torture objects displayed in a dark dingy atmosphere that might give you an idea of at least our version of the criminal justice system of five hundred years ago.

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Entering the museum there is a trip dungeon looking door and some images and relics of the macabre that almost manages to bring you back 500 years into the times of medieval justice. You can almost imagine being there after hours after the executioner has gone home. The museum does a good job at describing the articles on display.

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One of the first relics on display is the relatively mild locks shown here. As you can see from the background they do a good job of recreating a medieval jail cell.

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Paintings are shown throughout which give an idea what the actual uses of the torture items and tries to give the visitor a sense of what it was like in medieval times. As an example see the locks shown above in the painting.

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Throughout the museum small tools of terror of displayed along the walls and ceilings where there is limited free space.

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This was used when two women were publicly quarrelling and disturbing the peace. They would both have their necks inserted into this until the made peace. Not an object of torture maybe but an example of the governments ways of keeping order.

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The simplest device called a "horse" can inflict much pain if used properly

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Paintings throughout the museum shows how torture and punishment was implemented

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This device was straped around your neck as your fingers got squashed

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The table that stretched you apart

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Sort of my personal favorate. No explanation of how it was used is necessary.

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This was put inside your mouth and drilled apart sort of pushing your head apart.

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In medieval time the market was used as a warning for people. A condemed man might be stripped naked, put inside a cage such as this and hung up and left to die. He would be left there in the market as a warning to others long after birds had eaten away all his flesh.

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Looks painful as your back was broken

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Ones head was put inside this and the screw was tightened squashing your head.

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This relic looks much like a wood saw until you look at the painting near it to see how it was used.

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In medieval times condemned noblemen were given the privledge of a quick and painless death. Usually this was with the executioner laying him down and quickly chopping of his head with an axe. No torture and as painless as possible. France - whose people possibly  thought themselves more civilized than others decided that if a man of condemned to death that torture was cruel. So, in an effort to give common criminals the same courtesy as noblemen, the guillotine was invented as a way to give sombody a quick and relitively painless death.

Ironically it is possibly the guillotine that invoked the most fear of all among torture devises.

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Finally, as one leaves the Amsterdam Torture museum you are left with this message

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MUSEUMS ARE EVERYWHERE AND AFTER A WHILE YOU GET ALL "MUSEUM-ED OUT"  BUT AMSTERDAM HAS ONE MUSEUM THAT IS DIFFERENT AND NOT TO BE MISSED


AND REMEMBER, WHEN IN AMSTERDAM RESERVE YOUR BEST HOTEL DEAL WITH THE WANDERING NOMAD TRAVEL CENTER

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If you have your own must see travel destination and would like to file a report to be listed here send along with photos to thestampnomad@gmail.com