Torture museums are not rare in Europe, given the history of the Inquisition and the power of the Catholic Church that was prosecuting individuals accused of committing offenses relating to heresy, immorality, blasphemy, and witchcraft as well as to Protestantism. From the 13th to the 18th century individuals were prosecuted, tried, tortured and executed not only for criminal offences, but also for their faith and scientific discoveries. Usually the torture was meant to scare the person into renouncing and abandoning beliefs, often – to force the victim testify against someone.
We cannot pretend that it didn’t happen and that is why it is important to embark upon a dark historical journey to learn about our past and recognize today’s torture and cruelty towards suspects or inmates. A number of Torture Museums in Italy give you a chance to see the examples of inhumanity and some horrific methods of torture designed to break even the strongest of wills.
The Museum of Torture in Lucca exhibits more than 100 original instruments and machines from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, showing how cruel mankind was and still is. The museum’s location in the basement of a historical Palazzo, makes the visit scary, but the very accurate historical explanations of all showpieces in four languages, also makes it educational.
We were lucky to be in the museum when two staff members had something funny to discuss by the entrance, all the visitors had a sigh of relief each time the staff’s laughter was heard inside the museum – it made us remember that we are in a museum and not in a medieval dungeon.
The horrifying, but necessary journey through human cruelty reminds us that people still suffer in the world and our past is someone’s present. Once you come out of the museum to the sunny and lively streets of Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena or any other city, you will be so grateful and happy to be living today and in this part of the world. Just don’t forget to tell your friends about the experience, so together we could speak out against today’s slavery, torture and cruelty.
Tip: There are no age restrictions, but we don’t suggest bringing children here.
Fact: The Museum shows exceptionally rare pieces and more recent philological reconstructions of ancient and lost instruments. It shows the creativity, ability and desire to cause pain to other humans, so it is not an easy experience. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.