Vlad the Impaler stands at the downstairs entrance of the Torture Museum Oude Steen doing what he does best. The notoriously barbaric ruler (better known as Dracula) holds a spear in his left hand with a man’s pale, severed head resting on the sharp tip.
Think of this scene — which, like all the exhibits in this museum in Bruges, Belgium, is recreated with mannequins — as an appetizer for what is to come.
The torture museum features hundreds of torture and execution devices used throughout European history during the pursuit of “justice.” There’s a pointy, wooden apparatus that men were forced to sit on, a rat eating away at another man’s chest and the claw-like metallic Spider, which served to mutilate women’s breasts and men’s genitals.
Did I mention children ages six and under get into the museum for free?
Honestly though, the place does provide an interesting history lesson, even if it is pretty morbid. The signs accompanying each apparatus and scene are in English and shed some light on the ridiculous laws and brutal punishments that transpired centuries ago.
Just be warned that the place has an eerie feel to it, and not just because of the creepy music. If the museum’s website is to be believed, the space used to be home to one of the oldest prisons in Europe.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. daily
Location: Wollestraat 29, 800 Brugge, Belgium
Admission: 7 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for students, torturemuseum.be