Visit a Dutch Medieval Prison!

Learn All about Dutch Crime & Punishment in the Middle Ages at The Gevangenpoort (The Prison Gate Museum)

Rijksmuseum de Gevangenpoort

(The Prison Gate Museum & the Prince William V Gallery)

Address: Buitenhof 33 2513 AH Den Haag ………………Website: Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00-5:00/Sat-Sun 11:00-5:00Museumkaart: Yes

Tickets: Adults €15 / 5-18 €7.50 / Under 5-Free…..Phone: 070 346 08 61……Money Saving Ticket Discount – Click Here

Overview: The Gevangenpoort (Prisoner’s Gate) is a former court and medieval prison near the center of The Hague, next to a famous 18th-century art collection known as the Prince William V Gallery. For 400 years, until 1828, this building was used to imprison people who had committed serious crimes while awaiting sentencing. Learn about the roles of judges, officers, and executioners through videos, exhibitions, and live re-enactments.

The Prince William V Gallery next door includes a reconstruction of the original cabinet from the 1774 collection (then called the ‘Royal Cabinet of Paintings’) in the upstairs showroom. In the early 1800s highlights from the collection, including ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’, were moved to the Mauritshuis – which became their formal owner in 1822. The remaining paintings hang on the upper level, crowded together on the walls as was the style of the late 1700s (see video below). Curious visitors can view the old art gallery through a secret special staircase that now connects the two buildings.

Note: Every Saturday & Sunday there is an English language tour from 1:00-1:45pm which costs € 5 per person.

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Within De Gevangenpoort – A Look Inside a Medieval Dutch Prison

Within De Gevangenpoort – A Look Inside a Medieval Dutch Prison

In the 1400s, this medieval gate led into the powerful Court of Holland, a place of judgment for criminals which was later expanded with the Gaols (jail cells), a chapel, solitary confinement and even a torture chamber for those who resisted the rule of law.  Suspects were held as they waited to be questioned, tried, and sentenced by the magistrate. 

Its most famous prisoner was Cornelis de Witt (engraving below) for plotting the murder of the mayor at the time. He was hung together with his brother Johan in 1672 on a greenway in front of the building. 

Since 1882, the prison gate, court, and penitentiary have become a state museum that’s also home to a bizarre collection of punishment and torture devices from the 15th to the 19th century.

In the Middle Ages, punishments were meant to be public and physical. An audience was allowed to ‘enjoy’ every moment of the process, as being humiliated was part of the punishment. But after the Age of Enlightenment (1685-1815) severe torture became rare, especially with the abolition of branding and flogging in 1854 and the death penalty in 1870.

Videos of the Prisoner’s Gate & the Prince William V Collection