Our last morning in Cartagena was spent at the Palace of Inquisition Museum. The museum was really on the different ways that people were tortured in Colombia, of the 800 inquisitions held in what is now the museum, none of the people were found innocent.
The palace is an 18th century building and very beautiful. On our guided walking tour, the previous day, we were shown the palace door and told that the more buttons (brass adornments) on the door, the more wealthy the family. Also the Aldaba (door knocker) indicated the families background, if its a lion, like on the palace door, then it shows a military background. If the aldaba was a fish, mermaid, seahorse it was a merchant family home or a lizard the family is from royalty. Although the building is beautiful it conceals a dark past, it was the Court of the Holy Office and is where the Spanish Inquisition carried out their torture until Colombia became independent from Spain in 1812.
The first building was called the secret prison and it is where heretics waited their judgement. Torture was used to get confessions from the heretics rather than punishment. A notice on the wall has a list of questions that the inquisitors asked the accused like What words do you pronounce when you fly? Once the confession was signed they were sentenced to death in the outside courtyard. In the outside courtyard opposite the banos, (bathrooms) in a peaceful location is the Inquisitor’s guillotine, the cause of many deaths.
The purpose of the inquisition was to get rid of threats of witchcraft, blasphemy and heresy to the Catholic Church. Torture was carried out through the strappado, here victims had their arms tied behind their backs and suspended in the air, while weights were added. Another method of torture used was the rack. Other torture mechanisms housed include thumb screws, the head crusher and iron collars with spikes.
The last person sentenced to death was in 1834, but the inquisitor’s organisation, as part of the Catholic church still exists today.
Although the museum was housed in a beautiful building and some parts of the museum were interesting, I don’t think it was particularly worth going to if you can’t read Spanish as all the signs are in Spanish. Also there were not that many torture devices shown in the museum.
Unfortunately mum was not feeling too well and waited in the shade in the park, with the camera, so no photos from inside.
Tourist Information on Palace of Inquisition:
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday – open 9 am – 6 pm, Sunday – open 10 am – 4 pm
Cost: Adults – $19 000, children – $16 000
Official Website: http://www.muhca.gov.co/
Researched and written by Max