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Prague Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments

I think every city of even modest size in Europe has at least one museum dedicated to the cruel and imaginative ways Europeans tortured one another during the Middle Ages. Prague, being a city that deals quite cannily with tourists, has a few torture museums. I’ve heard that many of the implements displayed in these types of museums were dreamed up mostly for the museums themselves, but I’m no scholar of medieval torture, so I can’t say. They seem believable enough to me, based on the research I’ve done of watching The Witchfinder General starring Vincent Price.

Anyway, of Prague’s multiple torture museums, I selected The Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments (Krizovnicke nam. 194/1, Prague Praha 1, Czech Republic) using the most scientific of criteria: it was near a lot of other stuff I wanted to do that morning, right at the foot of the fabled Charles Bridge. Despite the garish advertising, it’s a fairly sober and “historical” museum, with none of the gory wax dummies you expect and often get from such museums. Still, quite an interesting exploration of man’s dedication to creativity in pursuit of his dedication to inflicting pain on his fellow man (or more often, woman). Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the museum. Fortunately, I didn’t see that sign until I was leaving.

2 thoughts on “Prague Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments”

  1. When I was in Czechoslovakia (it was still Czechoslovakia then), there was an utterly disturbing torture-instrument exhibit in Hrad Spilberk in Brno. Now the thing is that the things on display there were still in daily use by the secret police, (maybe not ‘daily’, but ‘occasionally’), including a custom-made waterboard from East Germany and a truck battery / electrode contraption with a dildo-shaped appliance on the positive side and a sort of spongy thing on the negative. I think that was a present from the government of Chile.

    Along with the day-trip to Birkenau and the visit to the nuclear bunker under Wencelas Square, a sort of atrocity holiday. Still, since Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh is now a tourist attraction, and you can take a guided tour of the basement of Lujbianka, I suppose anything is possible.

    The boots, Judas chairs, scold’s bridles and iron maidens look positively charming by comparison.

  2. For any Midwesterners, there is also a Museum of Historic Torture Devices in the Wisconsin Dells. All the devices are cheap fabrications but I do recall that there was a fairly dreary and disturbing video to watch.

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