Support our mission
Visitors look at displays in the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's exhibits are reminder of the human capacity for cruelty.

Visitors look at displays in the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's exhibits are reminder of the human capacity for cruelty. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Visitors look at displays in the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's exhibits are reminder of the human capacity for cruelty.

Visitors look at displays in the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's exhibits are reminder of the human capacity for cruelty. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

An inquisition chair from the 17th century is on display. Prisoners were interrogated in the chair while naked. The interrogator could exacerbate their pain by forcing their arms and legs down, or by rocking the chair.

An inquisition chair from the 17th century is on display. Prisoners were interrogated in the chair while naked. The interrogator could exacerbate their pain by forcing their arms and legs down, or by rocking the chair. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A mannequin is secured to a wooden chair with an 18th century Catalan garrote at the Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein. An iron tip in the back of the device bored into the victim's cervical vertebrae and forced the neck into the metal band. It killed the victim by simultaneously destroying the spine and strangling her.

A mannequin is secured to a wooden chair with an 18th century Catalan garrote at the Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein. An iron tip in the back of the device bored into the victim's cervical vertebrae and forced the neck into the metal band. It killed the victim by simultaneously destroying the spine and strangling her. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Humiliation masks are on display at the front entrance of the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's haunting music and garish lighting create an eerie atmosphere that encourages scary thoughts.

Humiliation masks are on display at the front entrance of the Medieval Torture Museum. The museum's haunting music and garish lighting create an eerie atmosphere that encourages scary thoughts. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

An executioner waits for his next victim in front of the guillotine exhibit.

An executioner waits for his next victim in front of the guillotine exhibit. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A lonely prisoner endures his sentence in 18th-century hand irons surrounded by executioners weapons.

A lonely prisoner endures his sentence in 18th-century hand irons surrounded by executioners weapons. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Various torture devices are on display at the Medieval Torture Museum. They include this iron belt, which was secured around the victim's waist.

Various torture devices are on display at the Medieval Torture Museum. They include this iron belt, which was secured around the victim's waist. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A print in the torture museum illustrates a 15th-century "death by sawing".

A print in the torture museum illustrates a 15th-century "death by sawing". (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

A visitor views the witch-burning display at the Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany. The exhibits may be inappropriate for young children.

A visitor views the witch-burning display at the Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany. The exhibits may be inappropriate for young children. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany, has a collection of 144 public humiliation, execution and torture instruments -- all reminders of how awful people can be.

The Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany, has a collection of 144 public humiliation, execution and torture instruments -- all reminders of how awful people can be. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Humankind has created many wonderful things. Art, literature, the smallpox vaccine and pizza, to name a few. Unfortunately, our propensity for creation does not stop with a masterpiece like the “Mona Lisa” or a slice.

No, our species is also responsible for a vast array of horribleness. Like genocide, chemical weapons and the ghastly devices on display at the Medieval Torture Museum in Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany.

The museum, about 30 minutes west of Wiesbaden, is 10,000 square feet of underground vaults with 144 instruments of public humiliation, execution and torture to cringe at. A nice macabre addition to those static artifacts are the numerous images and “tortured” mannequins that illustrate how some of the devices were used.

Besides the grisly displays, there are many English-language signs with more detail and history to make your stomach turn. The descriptions are dryly factual and the excerpts are from published history texts, but it’s nonetheless frightening just how horribly people can treat other human beings.

The museum focuses on medieval torture practices, the Inquisition and the witch hunts in Germany. However, there are examples of instruments and torture methods from later eras, as well as a section devoted to torture taking place today.

The haunting music, lighting and strange contraptions of iron and wood create an eerie atmosphere. Yet the factual information and historical material reminded me that these are not props from the latest scary movie.

I would not list the Medieval Torture Museum as a top destination for visitors with very young children. But, just to be clear, the “horror” that took place in this museum was in my head. I felt as though the 6 euros I paid for admission was money well spent, but your kindergartner might leave more confused by the uncomfortable-looking furniture than entertained.

It took me about an hour to take in all the visuals and read the associated text; I imagine most would have a hastier visit — whether that’s because they are more fainthearted or less morbid than I am.

Either way, there is plenty to do in Rudesheim besides visit the museum. Shopping, sightseeing and dining are abundant.

You might just want to have your meal before visiting the instruments of torture.

keller.mike@stripes.com

Medieval Torture Museum, Rudesheim am Rhein, Germany

DIRECTIONS

Address: Oberstrasse 49-51, 65385 Rudesheim am Rhein.

To get to the parking lot located near the museum, take the A66 from Wiesbaden toward Rudesheim and continue on the B42. It turns into Rheingaustrasse after a roundabout. Turn left onto Europaallee and then right onto Rheinallee. Continue on the B42. Turn right onto Grabenstrasse. Turn left onto Oberstrasse and then an immediate right onto Am Eibinger Tor. The parking lot is on the left.

TIMES

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, April 14 to Oct. 31 and 1-5 p.m. daily from Nov. 1 to April 14.

COSTS

Admission is 6 euros for adults; 4.50 euros for ages 7-14. Children under 7 enter free. Guided tours for groups of 10 or more are available starting at 30 euros and by reservation. The length of the tour is approximately 45 minutes.

FOOD

There are many dining options available in Rudesheim.

INFORMATION

There is an English link at www.foltermuseum.com/index_us.html. Most of the literature in the museum is in German and English.


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up