Camera Obscura & World of Illusions - Atlas Obscura

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

360° views of the city plus five floors of optical illusions and hands-on science. 


Part funhouse part learning center, Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions is five floors of perspective-bending fun. Operating for over 150 years, it is Edinburgh’s oldest purpose-built attraction.

Established in 1835, the building was originally called “Short’s Observatory, Museum of Science and Art” until 1892 when it was purchased by Patrick Geddes and renamed “Outlook Tower.” Committed to the idea that exhibition is the most exhilarating form of education, Geddes eventually incorporated Maria Short’s Camera Obscura, and “Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions” was born.

Part of the purpose of the activity center is to provide a better understanding of Edinburgh, and what better way to showcase the city than to enjoy it through telescopes, view cams, and of course, the 360° panoramic view provided by the Camera Obscura on the rooftop terrace.

The rest of the building is filled with optical illusions, puzzles, mirror mazes, and a vortex tunnel, providing guests with dizzying alternate realities and tricks on the mind and on the eyes. Visitors are encouraged to get involved with everything, play with it all, and unlike a lot of learning centers, there is nothing in this one you are not allowed to touch.

Know Before You Go

At the top of the Royal Mile, just before Edinburgh Castle. Admission can be quite pricey, however, several other city attractions offer combined entry reductions.

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