Camera Obscura, Edinburgh

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 Reviews

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  • Viewed from the Camera Obscura
    Viewed from the Camera Obscura
    by Drever
  • The viewing table in the Camera Obscura
    The viewing table in the Camera Obscura
    by Drever
  • One of the many entertainments
    One of the many entertainments
    by Drever
  • Drever's Profile Photo

    The Camera Obscura

    by Drever Written Jan 25, 2014

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The tower containing the Camera Obscura
    3 more images

    The Camera Obscura on the Royal Mile near Edinburgh Castle sits high above Edinburgh in an Outlook Tower originally forming part of Short's Observatory - a 17th century building.

    Paying at the ticket counter I slogged up six flights of stairs, browsing historic photographs of Edinburgh in the stairwell as I ascended. At the top an observation deck gave 360° panoramas of Edinburgh - the view took my breath away. Even better free telescopes including a high-power Navy telescope, offered close-up views of the city and beyond.

    At the scheduled time my accumulated group filed into the Camera Obscura and the show began. The 150-year-old periscope-like lens threw an image of nearby streets and buildings onto a curved, white-painted table in the projection room. Luckily it was a bright, sunny day so we had a fabulously sharp 360-degree view. We could see what was happening on the Castle esplanade, in Princes Street, and the wider surrounding area. The guide helped to identify landmarks and discussed highlights of Edinburgh's history.

    In explaining how the camera worked she was very entertaining. She showed how images can be magnified or people almost magically picked up off the street with just a bit of cardboard. Using the same trick traffic was made to cross cardboard bridges.

    After the show we made our way down to the next floor were we found hundreds of early photos of the surrounding areas and on the floors below optical illusions, distorting mirrors, lasers and 'take a picture of your own shadow'.

    There is a Magic Gallery where you can catch your shadow, shake hands with your ghost and discover a new you in the morphing machine. You can step inside a giant pinhole camera, which gives an upside down image. There are giant kaleidoscopes, the world's biggest plasma dome, and giant lenses, which let you see your friends in a whole new light! There are several exhibits in the "World of Illusions" with an optical theme that keep children occupied. An image projected onto the floor gives the impression of water ripples if you stepped on it.

    The Light Fantastic is a stunning hologram display and the U.K.'s only permanent gallery dedicated to the science and art of holography. I watched entranced as eerily realistic 3D pictures changed, appeared and disappeared before my eyes! Some were huge, one of the biggest was of a tarantula - children were daring each other to touch one of its legs.

    Edinburgh Vision is fascinating for those that love history. It shows Edinburgh in 3D from the 1850s to the present day. Live city viewcams also allows you to scan around the city and zoom in and out on anything that takes your fancy!

    All in all a very enjoyable afternoon, highly recommended to anyone visiting Edinburgh. Many people come back to this attraction time and time again.

    Admission: Adult £12.95; Senior Citizen / Student £10.95; Child (5-15yrs) £9.50; Under 5yrs Free and it is open daily.

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  • Bushman23's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Bushman23 Updated Aug 30, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Some funky Illusions

    Camera Obscura is a wonderful little building just below the Castle. It focuses on the world of Illusion and magic, and also provides wonderful 360 degree views of Edinburgh from the roof.
    Also on the roof is the worlds most powerful public use telescope, which is free to use. At £6.50 per person though, it better be free!!

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  • susancallus's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by susancallus Written Jun 24, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Camera Obscura
    1 more image

    Camera Obscura and it's world of illusions is one of the origainal attractions you can find not only in Edinburgh but in all europe. This amazing Camera Obscura gives you a fascinating live panorama of the city as the guide will entertain you with stories of Edinburgh past times. Then there is a world full of illusions for you! My favouritve was the transformation of myself in the morph machine! If you click on the other pictures you could see a picture of myself as manga! :)))

    Prices are: £6.45 Adult £4.15 Child

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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura

    by Tom_Fields Written Mar 20, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    On the left, the Outlook Tower
    2 more images

    For excellent views of the Old Town, visit this tower on the Royal Mile. Located near Edinburgh Castle, it was set up by Maria Theresa Short, daughter of the astronomer who built the first observatory on Carlton Hill. Sir Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932) refurbished this old building in 1892. Today, it has a number of scientific exhibits and curiosities.

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  • St_Vincent's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

    by St_Vincent Written Nov 29, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Cityscape from the top of the Camera Obscura Tower
    2 more images

    A visit to Camera Obscura near the entrance to the castle is well worth it if only for the panoramic views of the city from the top. It is a series of displays, curiosities and optical illusions that you travel through by ascending the tower, each floor having a different theme. At the top is the main event, the camera obscura where there is a 15 minute demonstration by a guide. This is a 360o camera mounted on the roof that feeds images onto a horizontal viewing dish inside. As it pans around you get the feeling that you are watching a miniature city going about its business. Watch the tourists piling off the coaches in the castle car park, see the traffic flowing down the high street stopping to let pedestrians cross, you can even "pick them up" by moving your hands above the dish. It's really a whole city condensed into an area of about two square meters.

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  • roamer61's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by roamer61 Written Oct 19, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Established in 1850 as an observatory, today one can see exhibits on illusion and optics as well as look out over the city. This view is looking down towards the Royal Mile. The spired butresses belong to the cathedral.

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  • stevezero's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by stevezero Written Sep 10, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Edinburgh  - Camera Obscura

    The camera obscura in the Outlook Tower at the top of the Royal Mile, next to the castle was established in the 1850's by the optician Maria Theresa Short and was originally known as Short's Observatory. The optics were replaced in 1947.

    There is a ticket counter and gift shop at the entrance. Tickets are sold for a specific time shown on a sign when you buy the ticket. The camera obscura is located about six flights up in the tower. There is no elevator but there are exhibitions of camera obscuras, pinhole photography, and art on the floors you pass on your way up. These give nice stopping points in the climb. At the top is an observation deck with telescopes. At the appointed time the group files into the camera obscura and the guide (on all of our visits they have been enthusiastic and well rehearsed young people) gives a 15 minute demonstration of the camera obscura. In the few minutes between presentations they have always been happy to turn on the lights to let us photograph and videotape the interior.

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  • Paisleypaul's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Paisleypaul Written Jul 24, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Camera Obscura entrance (or is it !!??)

    One of the few working cameras obscura you can visit worldwide, I believe there are about 7. Really remarkable views of the city with this ingenious periscope and white drum - you need to see it to 'get it'

    Loads of other optical illusions and ocular trickery throughout. Shows are about hourly or 90 minutes apart, allow 75 minutes for your visit

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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 14, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Looking south from the Outlook Tower

    Edinburgh's Outlook Tower exists since 1853 and provides a good introduction to the city from Castle Hill. The 17th century building is also equipped with a Camera Obscura which gives an amazing live panorama .

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  • Packerman's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Packerman Written Sep 27, 2003
    Ticket for my daughter and me

    If you have time during your stay in Edinburgh, then I would recommend visiting the Camera Obscura next to the castle on the Royal Mile. There are several interactive experiments you can try and a great view of Edinburgh awaits you at the end of your tour there. I took over two hours to check everything out, and my five year old daughter enjoyed it too!

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  • Travelchili's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

    by Travelchili Written Sep 21, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Entrance to World of Illusions

    It's a very fun place to visit if you have a few hours to spare. What will you find there?

    * wonders of light and Illusion in the Magic Gallery
    * 3D hologram display
    * you can interract with an array of Edinburgh Vision images from Victorian 3d cityscapes to live viewcams which you control
    * you can pick people up on the palm of your hand in the Camera Obscura
    * breathtaking panoramas from the rooftop terrace

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  • Camera Obscura A World of Illusions

    by lmizutani Written Jun 24, 2003

    The fun part of this site is that when you go to the "show" there is an opportunity to almost literally lift unsuspecting people walking to and from Edinburgh castle into the palm of your hand. Or even have them walking on air (literally).

    On the way up you can see how various illusions are created - some of which can make those funny mirrors in amusement parks seem like, well, amusing.

    Don't forget your camera to take pictures from the Outlook tower.

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  • mellow-mark's Profile Photo

    Recommended attractions...

    by mellow-mark Updated Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness


    Recommended attractions include Camera Obscura on the Royal Mile near the Castle, which offers great views of Edinburgh on a clear day. The new Dynamic Earth below the rugged crags of Holyrood Park is great for kids; while Holyrood Palace at the end of the Royal Mile; and the Royal Yacht Britannica moored in Leith are great for fans of the Royal Family.

    The Royal Botanic Gardens in the north of the city is highly recommended and changes with each season. The lawn in front of the cafe also offers great views of the city skyline. And of course, back in town the wide variety of shops, restaurants, pubs and bars awaits you!

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