Heksenwaag, sixteenth century witches weighhouse in Oudewater, Netherlands

About twenty minutes exterior of Utrecht is the sleepy little city of Oudewater. Which holds a secret within the type of a sixteenth century witches weighhouse (Heksenwaag). Oudewater is a picturesque little city crisscrossed with the canals that are so ubiquitous within the Netherlands. And lined with chocolate-box-style homes and outlets promoting flowers, cheese and residential wares. It feels as if time has stood nonetheless in Oudewater. There aren’t any Garish neon indicators, no loud music or trendy buildings, simply the sound of the water babbling via and the locals gently chat. In truth, the busiest a part of the city appears to be the herring stand within the heart with its brief queue of these in want of a pickled snack.

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Visiting Oudewater

Oudewater city feels virtually too quiet. However I can not resolve if that is as a result of I do know the secrets and techniques hiding away in a kind of lovely city homes.

A visit to the 16th century witches weighhouse (Heksenwaag), Oudewater, Netherlands

My household are used to being dragged to barely off-the-wall locations. And I delight myself on discovering these quirky areas which might be somewhat off the standard vacationer path (just like the time all of us ended up within the jail within the Prepare dinner Islands shopping for souvenirs).

The youngsters actually weren’t positive what to make of this although. Visiting Oudewater on our Spring journey to the Netherlands to step foot in one of many world’s few remaining witches weighing homes, the Heksenwaag.

Heksenwaag, Witches Weighhouse, Oudewater, Netherlands

A historical past of witch-mania

From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries witch mania swept throughout Europe with tons of of 1000’s of males, youngsters however primarily ladies being burnt on the stake after being tortured.

Their “crimes” may very well be something from suspicion about their midwifery abilities to a jealous neighbor making an accusation. And it solely took one unfounded finger-pointing for somebody to be arrested and in the end killed.

It was a harmful time to face out as being totally different or to make enemies.

Most cities throughout this era would have had a weighing home. These have been used to weigh produce and grain for purchasing and promoting.

However these weigh homes took on a extra sinister guise when these accused of witchcraft can be introduced in to be weighed. Witches have been thought of to be as mild as a feather to fly on their broomsticks and they also can be hauled onto the scales to find out in the event that they have been certainly mild sufficient.

Scales for weighing witches

Heksenwaag’s Scales – A go to to the sixteenth century witches weighhouse, Oudewater

Oudewater grew to become well-known for its scales within the Heksenwaag which by no means noticed a single one who was weighed by them killed.

As we speak you may stand on these unique oak 14th-century scales, that creek calmly backwards and forwards, and maintain on to the tightly certain rope. And solely start to think about the way it should have felt to have stood there with such an accusation hanging over your head.

Standing on the witches weighing scales

It is an necessary place to recollect the horrible acts that came about towards these harmless individuals.

The certificates that the Oudewater Heksenwaag would subject can be clutched gratefully. The one factor standing between the recipient and sure loss of life.

In fact in the present day it is not all only a solemn go to. And in reality, the museum’s curator actually provides to the expertise. A curious girl who takes enjoyment of weighing guests and awarding them with their very own modern-day certificates to show they’re certainly not witches.

The museum – Heksenwaag – A go to to the sixteenth century witches weighhouse, Oudewater

Courageous guests can then ascend the creaky staircase to the small museum upstairs.

Up the cracky staircase
Going upstairs for those who dare… Witches weighing home, Oudewater

On the ground above there is a actually informative movie about witchcraft throughout this era (in English and Dutch). And you’ll sit and watch whereas the youngsters have enjoyable with somewhat path to search out all the cats hidden across the room.

Finding cats

I took a second to sit down within the window, looking on the gradual motion of the world exterior and the streets which might be largely unchanged. And it was simply unimaginable the horror of this time of persecution and energy and supreme misogyny.


We headed again downstairs to the overriding burden of these massive, picket scales. And all of the tales they may inform.

Heksenwaag, Witches Weighhouse, Oudewater, Netherlands

What we considered Heksenwaag – A go to to the sixteenth century witches weighhouse, Oudewater

That is an eerie place. Though in the end it offered consolation to so many.

And I settle for it may not be on everybody’s journey itinerary but it surely’s necessary to recollect the historical past and never neglect the teachings realized.

I’d positively urge you, in case you are planning a visit to the Netherlands, so as to add this to your listing to go to.

Discover out extra concerning the witches weighing home at Oudewater right here. And browse our information to the Netherlands with youngsters for heaps extra solutions of issues to do and locations to go to.

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