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July 2000
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The Prison Gate Museum
Sunday, July 23, 2000; posted by Paris

After the Price Willem V Gallery, we went next door to the Museum de Gevangenpoort — The Prison Gate museum. From the Middle Ages to the early 19th century, this building served as a prison and housed torture chambers as well. The prison sits across from the Binnenhof.

This is the Chamber of Horrors on the top floor of the Gevangenpoort. Corporal and capital punishments were carried out here until the 19th century. On the right side of the room are the stands for the branding irons — used to mark criminals. Next to it is a stand of Halberd — weapons used by the militia.

This is a better image of the breaking rack — victim’s bones were broken to bits and then he was finished off with a hammer blow to the heart.

These are the swords in the Chamber of Horrors reserved for, and used on, persons of rank (a privileged punishment). Those of low social rank ended their days with the gallows or the garotte.

This is a picture of the Prison Gate. The interior was extremely dark and had a very old and musty wood smell (like going into an old-unfinished attic). I had to brighten these images because the camera flash frequently did not provide enough light. The jail cells had as many as 15 people in one room with no light, and only bread and water to eat.

Here is a carving of a ship made in the 18th century by a prisoner in the Hostage Room.

This is the Hostage Room where people who would not pay their debts were held. The prisoners could receive guests and servants here. A number of prisoners were able to escape from this room following drinking binges with the warden (he would often spend evenings with them). Two to three persons slept in each of the beds you see on the right. In the back right corner, you can see the “secreet” or toilet.

The Knight’s Chamber housed a mayor who was charged with treason. He stayed in this room and had access to visitors and good food and drink. However, when he refused to confess, he was tortured. He survived the torture only to be banished from Holland for another “crime”. Upon leaving the jails he was set upon by a mob, beaten to death, hung from a stake, limbs cut off and his intestines sold for 5 cents a piece to the crowds. Hmmm. The walls in this room are lined with 3-inch-thick wood planks to make escape even more difficult.

Torture Chamber — used for interrogation. This room includes a rack to stretch the victim, fire tray to heat branding irons, a series of thumb/hand/knee crews and a dripping stone used to drop water on a victimís head until he went insane.

These are the thumb, hand, and knee screws.