Entering the Museum of the Inquisition

When I made the unfortunate suggestion to visit the Museum of the Inquisition on our last morning in Cordoba, just before catching the bus to Granada, my cousin didn’t show much enthusiasm. “Are you sure?” she told me in an evident effort to talk me out of it. But since I know about her passion for all things history-related, I retorted “Of course! It’s history!”, and I won.

The chair of the torture

When we showed up at the door it was about 10am and, in a typical Sunday morning Spanish flair, the museum was still closed. We went to the nearby shop to inquire and the assistant let us know that the museum was “big, wonderful and opened at 11am.” At this point, having even already missed the 10,30 bus, we had no choice but to wait. We went to eat something at a close bar, and it revealed to be a wise choice, since we were not to leave that museum very hungry.

When we finally entered the building, which now is called “Museo de la Inquisicion“, having lost its former, apt, title “Galería de la Tortura“, the guardian gave us the ticket with a grin, in both surprise and mischief. “Before entering, would you like to take a photo with your hands and head in here?” Asked us pointing at the first torture instrument. Our reply came out in unison: “Thanks! We’ll pass!”

As soon as we walked through the red door-curtain, we found ourselves immersed in the worst expression of human brutality, the embodiment of injustice and a creepy show of nonsense.

The chair where apparently the prisoner was strangled

The exhibition of torture instruments was obviously well illustrated by posters that explained the death tools, the contexts they were used, to which sentence they were aimed to, and the irrational laws that ruled at the time. So, depending on which crime people were found guilty of, they were victim of a different kind of torture.

Of course I knew about the insane rules of what is known as the “Holy Inquisition”, but every time the topic crosses my path, I fume.

I’ve always failed to understand how can human mind envision, conceive, imagine such tools aimed at causing so much pain to other human beings. Nobody will ever talk me out of believing that who created such evil devices were psychopaths. The further I went with the visit, half in disbelief half in disgust, ambling about the worst examples of (in)human imagination that were increasing in ferocity as if in a macabre climax, the more furious I grew.

At some point, towards half of the tour, I started to struggle, I couldn’t bear those sights anymore, I stopped taking photos, I started reading voraciously all the illogical laws that imposed rules like “If the prisoner died (!) under torture without confessing, the Inquisition was to find him not guilty because God had given him the strength to stand the pain.”

As the posters read, “the arrest was previously organized in a complicit and stealthy way, and such detention was the beginning of a long path for those eligible to stand in front of capriciously formed courts, with an absolute lack of justice.” People could be arrested in the most arbitrary manner, it sufficed that someone seeking vengeance reported the person for some made-up crime, and that person was doomed.

The Wheel, another evil device

Of course, all the people involved in writing and/or passing such asinine laws were criminals themselves, and I believe they were fully aware of this and of the fact they were torturing innocent people.

Modern interpretation of history shows that at that time such nonsense was possible due to the widespread ignorance since not many people could afford an education. Today we have all means to educate ourselves, through schools, books, the Internet, and torture and injustice seem to happen in many parts of the world nevertheless. A great movie that shows how useless the practice of the torture during interrogations is, is Milos Forman’s Goya’s Ghosts, where the father of the girl tortured by the Inquisition tries anything to make them release her daughter, even forcing under torture a Cardinal to sign the confession that he was a monkey.

When we left, the guardian looked at us again and said “estaban todos locos (they were crazy)”. Yeah, to put it mildly.


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