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The Camera Obscura Show

A dark room. A large table. A beam of light. When you walk into our special rooftop chamber, things seem pretty straightforward. But wait...

An image of Edinburgh appears on the table. The narrow closes of the Old Town. The wide open streets of the New Town. What happens next is like nothing you’ve seen before.

There are no projectors here – just clever Victorian technology that brought moving pictures to the people of Edinburgh, long before cinema was invented. Watch as your guide leads you on a fascinating adventure through (and over) this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The people you can see are real – and are walking down Edinburgh’s streets at this very moment. Scoop them up. Squash them. Build bridges for them to drive over – all without leaving the room. This is the original virtual reality, Victorian style.

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Rooftop Terrace

High above this World Heritage Site, our Rooftop Terrace offers a blockbuster panorama of Edinburgh’s famous attractions.  It’s an unbeatable vantage point, unless you’ve packed a hot air balloon in your suitcase. The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, the Firth of Forth – all your favourites are here.

Now get even closer. Grab a telescope or pair of binoculars – they’re completely free. These powerful beauties will swoop you right down to the action on Princes Street Gardens, or all the way up to Arthur’s Seat. And that’s the Kingdom of Fife you can see to the north. Take it all at your own pace, high above the Royal Mile’s crowds and queues.

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Magic Gallery

The Magic Gallery houses some of our most electrifying exhibits, a great variety of cool optical illusions and hands-on, interactive experiences. Like every aspect of your visit, it's also great fun!

The Magic Gallery Plasma Tubes and Globes bring electricity right to your fingertips. You can literally light up the room by using your hands to connect our giant Plasma Ball to a light tube on the wall. Don't worry if you feel the spark as a tiny shock - it's a very small current, which is quite safe.

Explore classic optical illusions including maddening magic eye pictures and mind-bending mirrors. Become a 'big head' with the giant lens. Swap noses and heads with your friends, or shake hands with yourself. Don't miss the Shadow Wall, which captures your shadow in a flash! 

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Light Fantastic

Light Fantastic is our biggest gallery of interactive fun, tricks, and illusions – many unique to Camera Obscura. We’ll mess with your mind (in the best possible way) as your eyes are fooled by brilliant visual effects.

Start your journey in the hologram room, a world class collection of amazing, unique, 3D images, Frankenstein's monster, a falcon, and even a spider comes alive. But just like everything else in the building, our giant tarantula is an optical illusion. Ever wondered what your skeleton looks like? Don't miss the X-Ray Machine, you might discover you've swallowed something you don't remember! The Ames Room is a brilliant piece of trickery, which can shrink and grow you instantly; a great photo opportunity for the whole family. Once you’ve returned to your original size, you can try the Severed Head. This clever illusion makes it look as if your head is being served for dinner, a wacky photo might upset the relatives!

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Eye Spy Edinburgh

Think you’ve seen Edinburgh from every angle? Think again. Same city. Different vantage point. Discover Victorian and 3D cityscapes alongside our Viewcams, powerful modern cameras showcasing the city in real time. 

Get interactive and use our cameras and mirrors to view yourself and the world around you in a new way. You can zoom in on the very small with our marvellous microscopes and make sure to see your reflection in the Victorian bendy mirrors, which are almost impossible to look at without laughing. Once you travel through the Infinity Corridor you’ll find a fascinating display of photos of old Edinburgh, showing what life was like when the Camera Obscura first opened in the 1850s, a fascinating insight into how the city has changed.

Our Thermal Camera offers you the chance to see just how hot, or cold you are and the gallery also houses the Singing Cats, and other wonderfully detailed automata. There are also lots of tricky optical illusions to keep you on your toes.

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Bewilderworld

Immerse yourself in Bewilderworld, a collection of our most popular, biggest and most amusing illusions. A scramble for the senses, which will leave you feeling fully bewildered! Make sure to take pictures, they’ll be the most unusual souvenirs to share with friends.

Lose yourself in our magical Mirror Maze, a bamboozling jumble of hallways that seemingly stretch for miles. Will you make it to the other side? Get ready for a mystifying, turning, tilting, twisting, crazy experience like no other! The Vortex Tunnel is a highlight of any visit. This discombobulating spinning tunnel will confuse and baffle all ages. Can you walk through without losing your balance? Create your own art with the Light Painter, a fun way to paint pictures. Use the LED torches or the light from your mobile phone to produce unique drawings and images. Try shining the torch on yourself to see your face appear on the screen. 

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Impossible Doesn't Exist

With five floors and over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits, we have something to entertain all ages. Tour Edinburgh’s streets without moving. Test your brain against mind-bending illusions. It’s all part of the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions experience.

Situated just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, at the top of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, come and discover the first ever purpose built visitor attraction in Edinburgh and see history and modern marvels together under one roof.

Our 165 year old Camera Obscura is the highlight for many visitors, make sure to get your allocated show time to not miss this Victorian spectacle.