March 20, 2016
I few months ago I visited De Gevangenpoort (Prisoner’s Gate), which is a former gate and medieval prison.
Way back, in 1280, this gate served as the main entrance to the Binnenhof. From 1428 until 1828 the builing was used for housing bad boys (who had committed serious, horrible or even crazy crimes) while they awaited for their sentence. Did you know that “being in prison” wasn’t a actual punishment until the 17th century? Prisoners at the Gevangenpoort got sentences like exile, torturing, public humiliation and corporal and capital punishment… Nowadays prisons aren’t that bad 😉
Cornelis de Wit (he was the right hand of Michiel De Ruyter) was held at this prison on the charge of plotting the murder of the stadtholder. And for this Cornelis and his brother Johan were lynched on the little square in front of the prison in 1672. Up to today Cornelis is still one of the most famous and wealthy prisoners. Because he was rich, he stayed in his own luxury cell, known as the Ridderkamer (Knights’ Chamber).
In 1882 De Gevangenpoort became a museum, still in the heart of the city center. Nowadays you can check out the (c)old cells, terrible torture material and visit the Ridderkamer.
As you might have noticed, there are loads of stories to tell about this place. The museum is worth a visit, and if you do, I highly recommend you to join a guided tour. This museum has some of the best guides in town, they tell you stories like they come straight from a very well written history book. They tell the stories with a lot of emotion, details, (fun) facts and passion.
If you have the opportunity to do a guided tour at night, make sure to join it. The museum is even cooler and more spooky by night! These tours will also include actors who master the art of storytelling on a impressive level.
I joined the night tour (also in English) twice already and I’m sure I’ll be back!
2513 AH Den Haag