The subject I am going to approach today may be quite tabu for some - today I shall be telling you the story about Executioners Museum in Krakow. People in the world - as far as my humble experience of life taught me - are split between people who approve and those who look with disgust and do not agree upon the presence of torture in the world. I would like to say that I am without flaw and that I do not agree with torture, yet in some cases I have felt it necessary... What would you do if you knew that the life of many would depend on torturing a single person? I would like to believe that I would not harm anyone but one cannot tell until time and circumstance has pushed one into real action where you have to take this decision... I pray that none of us would ever be in such a circumstance to take such decision. We are not Gods and we should learn by the mistakes that other have made. We all know that the History is one big turining wheel that repeats itslef. Maybe we should just sit back and think things through...
But why so much fascination over torture? And why do people - when they think of methods of torture - believe that it was invented in the middle ages? Most certainly it is easier to make the connection with that time, when it somes to the pagan faiths and believes and on the hunt for witches of the time, but the torture is as old as - at least - the Ancient Greece. Greek and Romans alike used it for interrogation purposes. Until the 2nd century AD, torture was used only on slaves (with a few exceptions). After this point it began to be extended to all members of the lower classes. Since the days when Roman law prevailed throughout Europe, torture has been regarded as subtending three classes or degrees of suffering.
First-degree torture typically took the forms of whipping and beating but did not mutilate the body. The most prevalent modern example is bastinado, a technique of beating or whipping the soles of the bare feet. Second-degree torture consisted almost entirely of crushing devices and procedures, including exceptionally clever screw presses or "bone vises" that crushed thumbs, toes, knees, feet, even teeth and skulls in a wide variety of ways. A wide array of "boots"—machines variously, ingeniously designed to slowly squeeze feet until their bones shattered—are quite representative.
Finally, third-degree tortures savagely mutilated the body in numerous dreadful ways, incorporating spikes, blades, boiling oil, and extremely carefully controlled fire. The serrated iron tongue shredder; the red-hot copper basin for destroying eyesight; and the stocks that forcibly held the prisoner's naked feet, glistening with lard, directly over red-hot coals (foot roasting) until the skin and foot muscles were burnt black and the bones fell to ashes are examples of torture in the third degree.
Modern scholars find the concept of torture to be compatible with society's concept of Justice during the time of the Roman Empire. Romans, Jews, Egyptians and many other cultures during that time included torture as part of their justice system. Romans had crucifixion, Jews had stoning (that is even mentioned in the Bible) and Egyptians had desert sun death. All these acts of torture were considered necessary (to deter others) or good (to punish the immoral).
Now almost every big city in Europe has some kind of Museum of Torture with a wide display of original and replica instruments of torture used in history. I have to admit I was living in Krakow for almost 4 years and going to the Main Market Square - Rynek Glowny - a couple of times, on a weekly basis, yet I never bumped into this museum before - to my shame! But now I have to make up for it! :) The Muzeum Kata „Kacianora” - Executioner Museum - is a lovely, tiny hidden gem of Krakow. Located on Rynek Główny 29, in a 15th century cellar, it holds over 100 items. Some complain - when there - that is just one single room. Well I say that is nonsense! I have spent there 2 full hours and 40 minutes and I did not feel time passing by!
That is also because of the wonderful tour guided that spoke perfect English and told me stories I did not knew before, connected with the instruments of torture. I must admit I know quite a few stories and legens myself, like the fact that the Iron Lady/Iron Maiden is just a myth and it was more of a isolation chamber, but without the inner spikes ;) The price of the ticket - March 2015 - was 9 zloty per person + the extra 30 zloty for the tour. But I can say, hand to my heart, that is worth every penny! I would not recommend the museum to kids, but for history buffs it is a must :) It is not part of the National Museum, it is a private one, but well taken care of - though it does lack the publicity it deserves!
The overall impression of Kacianora Museum, for me, was 100% positive and I will surely recommend it to my friends. As I have said, it is located in the basement of the fifteenth century house; 6 meters deep, inside of which was built a wooden structure - beams and mezzanines. Construction, architectural details at every step a surprise to the viewer. Unique solutions have been used to connect wood, stone and light give power to the experience.
Also from the guide I found out that there was a previous collaboration with the Free Walking Tour Krakow and the Macabre Tour. I truly believe that must have been a precious and enchanting collaboration as I have seen Jacek - the guide from the Macabre Tour in action - and his enthusiasm in sharing information about the dark side of the city. He would have brought the histories and the magic and Kacianora would have brought the real life examples and the athmosphere :) To be mentioned that the over 100 items are all replicas!
If you are in Krakow and you like history and this particular subject I believe that this museum deserves a chance and should be rated even higher than #54 of 228 things to do in Krakow - on TripAdvisor, my good friend ;))) It is open on a daily basis, from 10:00 to 19:00, but I believe it also closes during National Holidays. You can also find more info on Facebook and on their own site, though in both cases all is in Polish. One thing to mention: No Photos allowed inside & No Touching of the expos!
** This post was made out of love for the Unknown Museums of Krakow - that I have yet to discover. I was not repayed in any way and all the opinions are my very own, straight from the heart! Also with this ocasion I would like to thank one more time the most adorable & knowledgeable guide I have ever had in a Museum :) **
A Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover Hidden Gems