Camera Obscura, Edinburgh

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 Reviews

549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND +00 44 (0)131 226 3709

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  • Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    by RavensWing
  • Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    by RavensWing
  • Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
    by RavensWing
  • RavensWing's Profile Photo

    ~ Where You Can Pick Up Anyone ~

    by RavensWing Written Apr 10, 2015

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Welcome to the world of illusions! Camera Obscura has 6 levels of amazing illusions. This is a very interesting place to visit - from a maze of mirrors, a vortex tunnel, fiber optics to the top of the roof where you can peek through telescopes at the people below on the Royal Mile.

    My son and I decided to take a run through here while we waited for our tour at Mary King's Close . I'm glad we did, it was very interesting. My favorite place was Bewilderworld on level 2. This is where the maze of mirrors is - I didn't do so well at getting through the maze, thankfully I just followed my son who seemed to know the way through. Also found here is the 'Vortex Tunnel' - I'm not sure what was more fun, trying to walk through it myself or watching everyone else attempt it. If you keep your eyes on the far wall and try to ignore the spinning vortex you just might make it through with out walking crookedly. Believe me it is quite the laugh when you see someone trying to keep upright.

    We zipped through Edinburgh Vision (Level 3) and Light Fantastic (Level 4) and headed up to Level 6 for the Camera Obscura demonstration. We made our way into the mysterious rooftop chamber, inside there is seating and a huge white disc in the center. The lights are turned out and the fun begins. Through a series of mirrors, lenses and daylight you are now peeking in on the unsuspecting visitors on the Royal Mile. You can pick them up with you hand, squish them, move them from where they are to a completely different spot on the Royal Mile, all without their knowing the difference. It's quite informative and is told in a comical manner.

    We stopped into the Magic Gallery before it was time to leave. Yet another floor filled with tons of interactive fun. There's Magic Eye pictures (which I find quite difficult to see the picture), swap heads with your friend, and even try to grab the disappearing sweet.

    When you purchase your ticket it is good all day long. So if you find that you want to head somewhere else, just get your hand stamped and you are free to come and go - paying only one admission fee. They are open all year long, 7 days a week with the exception of Christmas Day. Go here for their current Open Hours & Admission Fees

    Another perk with your admission is there are some local cafes and restaurants that will give a discount for Camera Obscura ticket holders. To find out which cafes and restaurants participate - ask at the Admissions desk.

    This is definitely the place for a family to visit, the children will have a blast! Even if you don't have children with you - there is plenty of fun to be had for all ages.

    Camera Obscura - World of Illusion Camera Obscura - World of Illusion Camera Obscura - World of Illusion Camera Obscura - World of Illusion Camera Obscura - World of Illusion
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    The Camera Obscura

    by Drever Written Jan 25, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    The tower containing the Camera Obscura Viewed from the Camera Obscura The viewing table in the Camera Obscura One of the many entertainments

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  • Camera Obscura

    by Regalbirdy Updated May 13, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I am suprised that there are not dozens of postings about this attraction as it is well worth a visit. I went last year and while I found the actual Camera obscura only mildly interesting and a bit of fun, the rest of the attraction more than made up for this. You are encouraged to touch and interact with items on display. I found some of the holograms that they have, really breathtaking. I thought it would only take about an hour to go around, as from the outside it does not look much, but I must have spent at least double that there in the end. I would enourage anyone to visit but I would recommend that they do so on a bright day to get the best from the actual obscura, as the picture clarity will be so much better. Don't be put off by the cost to get in. Be aware though that it might not be the best place for a wheelchair or buggy. I remember there were lots of stairs. Can't recall if there was a lift though - there may have been, you would need to check first.

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  • Bushman23's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Bushman23 Updated Aug 30, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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!!

    Some funky Illusions
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  • camera obscura- optical illusion spectacular

    by mila86 Written Aug 4, 2006

    Situated at the top of the royal mile just below the castle esplanade this visit attraction is one of my favourites. You get great views of edinburgh from the top, a show where you get to look down on different parts of the city and lots of tricks of the eye interactive activities on three levels. I must admit I wasn't sure about going on this trip- I imagined the magic eye pictures that I could never understand as a child-I'm sure people say they can see something of nothing- however the visit was nothing like that and the interactive displays are really good. If you are visiting go and have a look- different points of edinburgh will be pointed out so it's a good first day trip to understand where you still have to visit.

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  • susancallus's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by susancallus Written Jun 24, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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

    Camera Obscura :)) Susan manga!
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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

    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.

    On the left, the Outlook Tower View of Edinburgh from the Camera Obscura Looking down the Royal Mile
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  • catherineneill's Profile Photo

    camera obscura, castlehill

    by catherineneill Written Jan 8, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    i was 11 when first introduced to the camera obscura, and although the price keeps going up and up i keep going back just becasue im nosy. (adult 6.45 student/oap 5.15 child 4.15)
    provides panoramic views of edinburgh and fantastic camera effects. my favourite part is going to the top of the building and being able to pick up people on the street on a bit of paper. (see pic below, taken from aboutbritain.com) pinhole camera etc. catch your shadow. great day out for all the family.

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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

    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.

    Cityscape from the top of the Camera Obscura Tower Looking down the Royal Mile View of the Castle, getting ready for the Tattoo
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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

    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.

    Edinburgh  - Camera Obscura
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  • Paisleypaul's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Paisleypaul Written Jul 24, 2005

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    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

    The Camera Obscura entrance (or is it !!??)
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  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo

    Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 14, 2004

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    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 .

    Looking south from the Outlook Tower
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  • Packerman's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura

    by Packerman Written Sep 27, 2003

    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!

    Ticket for my daughter and me
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  • Travelchili's Profile Photo

    Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

    by Travelchili Written Sep 21, 2003

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    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

    Entrance to World of Illusions
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