The Blokhuis (Log House) in Leeuwarden was founded in 1499 under Albrecht of Saxony, who was appointed 'gubernor' over Friesland by Emperor Maximilian I. The Blokhuispoort Foundation preserves and tells the long and eventful history of this site.
The Blokhuis was built in 1499 as a kind of fortress from which power could be exercised. First under Saxon rule and from 1515 until 1580 under the Habsburgs/Spaniards. In 1580 mayor Adje Lambertsz succeeded in conquering the Blokhuis for the city of Leeuwarden by a ruse.
Prison sentences were uncommon until about 1600. More common were: death penalty, corporal punishment, exile, etc. The first prison on this site was built in 1661. It almost completely burned down in 1754; six prisoners died. The prison was rebuilt stronger and more secure. From 1838 only men were imprisoned here. In 1868 six prisoners escaped. After being caught and on their way back to prison, one of them drowned trying to escape again.
The escape of 1868 was one of the reasons for a new building. The special prison was built between 1870 and 1877 and was intended for prisoners with a sentence of imprisonment from five years to life. In 1953 the special prison was converted into a regular prison. The facility closed in 1970 and resumed operations as a detention center in 1976.
Since 1826, the Kanselarij (Chancellor's Office) on the Turfmarkt served as a detention center for prisoners who had not yet been convicted. But it was no longer suitable for this. Therefore, a new facility was built on the east side of this site. It became operational in 1891 and was intended for men and women in temporary detention, awaiting trial of their cases. During the Second World War, the German occupiers imprisoned resistance fighters here. On December 8, 1944, the resistance managed to free 51 of them in a spectacular way. No shot was fired and the Germans took no retaliatory action.
Since the prison was closed at the end of 2007, the Blokhuispoort has various new uses. Fresh start-ups have offices there, music lovers attend concerts and the gastronomy offers space for relaxation and socializing.
And finally: Blokhuispoort Foundation tells you the story of the Blokhuispoort. Visit the four historic cells in the H-wing for free.
There are two guided tours in Dutch every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon. Guided tours in Enlish only on special request. Price per person: €9.50. Children up to 6 years are free; from 7 to 14 years € 5.00.