Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh (must see)

Established in 1835 by entrepreneur Maria Theresa Short, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions holds historical significance in the development of regional planning, particularly in the context of Patrick Geddes' work. This unique attraction features more than 100 interactive exhibits, including the original Camera Obscura, spread across five floors, including a rooftop terrace offering panoramic views of Edinburgh.

Initially, Maria Theresa Short's "Short's Popular Observatory" was located in a wooden and stone building near the National Monument on Calton Hill. However, in 1851, this observatory was dismantled by authorities. Subsequently, Short relocated to Castlehill and, in 1852, purchased the townhouse of the Laird of Cockpen. She expanded the building by adding two additional storeys, creating Short's Observatory, Museum of Science and Art, which operated from 1853 to 1892.

In 1892, the site came under the management of Patrick Geddes, a pioneering Scottish urban planner, sociologist, and ecologist. He renamed it the "Outlook Tower" and transformed it into a museum and urban study center, reflecting his planning philosophy based on comprehensive surveys of the site, city, and region. The tower featured exhibits on various geographic themes as one ascended, ranging from the world on the ground floor to Europe, English-speaking countries, Scotland, and finally Edinburgh, with the camera obscura located in the topmost room.

The museum ceased operations following Geddes' passing in 1932. In 1966, the University of Edinburgh acquired the site with the intention of establishing the Patrick Geddes Centre and archive. In 1982, the building changed ownership to a private individual, but a one-room Geddes exhibit remained on the fourth floor.

Today, the tower stands as the city's oldest attraction, inviting visitors to explore six floors of interactive exhibits, including a top-floor Camera Obscura providing a virtual city tour. The rooftop terrace offers breathtaking views of Edinburgh with telescopes, while the lower floors house the "World of Illusions" featuring optical illusions, light, color, puzzles, a mirror maze, and a vortex tunnel. Besides its tourist appeal, the tower serves as an educational hub, delving into optical illusions, holography, photography origins, and Edinburgh's history.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Edinburgh. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Camera Obscura and World of Illusions on Map

Sight Name: Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (See walking tours in Edinburgh)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Edinburgh Introduction Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
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Naturally, there is a wealth...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles

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