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Camera Obscura Machine Locations > Scotland

The Royal Mile 549 Castlehill
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 2ND

Phone: 0131 226 3709


Camera Obscura is Latin for darkened chamber or room. It an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen. Its history can be traced back as far as 300BC. In the 18th century with the use of mirrors it was turned into an attraction; entrepreneurs would take portable obscuras in tents to entertain. The mechanics of the Camera Obscura are a cross between a giant pinhole camera and a periscope. At the top of the tower is a dark chamber with a mirror on top which reflects light downwards, passing through three lenses before projecting a stunning image of the city onto a large white table. Your guide turns and tilts the mirror to give a 360° tour of Edinburgh while giving a fascinating and fun commentary. Don’t miss the chance to pick up a passer-by in your hand in this amazing interactive exhibit. Have fun in the mirror maze and Vortex tunnel.

The machine is located in the back doorway of the gift shop. This is the exit area after you pay to see the camera obscura and visit the exhibitions. You could probably ask the people in the gift shop to use it without paying admission. There's also an automated wedding machine here too. The admission prices are: Adult: £12.95 Student (with ID): £10.95 Senior: £10.95 Child (5 - 15 years): £9.50 under 5's go free. Hours of operation: July, August: Every day 9:00 am - 9:00 pm (21:00). Your ticket is valid all day! September, October: Every day 9:30 am - 7:00 pm (19:00). Late opening on public and school holidays: 9:30 - 8:00 pm (20:00). November through March: Every day 10:00 am - 6:00 pm (18:00) [Closed 25th December] Half term holiday: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm (20:00). April through June: Every day 9:30 am - 7:00 pm (19:00). Late opening on public and school holidays: 9.30 am - 8:00 pm (20:00). Parking is very difficult to non existent. This machine is within easy walking distance (round trip 1 mile) to the Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Old Town Weaving, The Real Mary King's Close, Edinburgh Dungeons, National Museum of Scotland, and Museum on the Mound (Bank of Scotland) penny machines.

There are four designs available from a "The Penny Press" wheel cranked machine. Each cost £1.00 on an English or Scottish penny that you supply.

Designs all have a beaded border with 'Camera Obscura':
1. (H) A small camera obscura with 'and world of illusions Edinburgh'.
2. (V) A large camera obscura with 'Camera Obscura'.
3. (V) Vortex tunnel with 'Vortex Tunnel'.
4. (H) Edinburgh castle with 'Edinburgh'.

Oct 2015 - Machine working well, very friendly helpful staff! - I.T. Hope

End of attraction before the gift shop