This is, quite possibly, the most geektastic thing to do in Edinburgh. Others may embrace dubious claims about where Harry Potter was written, and getting weirded out by medical miscellany at Surgeon’s Hall Museum was cool, it didn’t have holograms, plasma orbs, mirror mazes, giant kaleidoscopes, or non-permanent (that bit is key!) ways to sever your own head.
The centerpiece of this attraction on The Royal Mile is an actual camera obscura, an optical instrument from the 1850s that uses lenses to project a live, miniaturized view of Edinburgh onto a curved table inside a dark room. You get a timed ticket for the show when you buy admission to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and a popular approach is to take in the show first and then explore the rest of the museum from the top down. Photography is allowed throughout most of the attraction, except during the camera obscure demonstration (so make sure you go see it for yourself!)
The oldest purpose-built tourist attraction in Edinburgh, Camera Obscura offers amazing views of the city from its rooftop outlook, equipped with telescopes to help you see far into the distance. The views alone are worth the price of admission, but there is a whole other world of wonders left to see.
The remaining four floors of this attraction encompass the World of Illusions alluded to in the name. The exhibits are fun, colourful, and interactive, covering many different facets of the science of Optics. Don’t let the fun factor deceive you. This attraction is not just for kids. As a thirtysomething geekgirl I found it just as enthralling as the schoolkids. I won’t go into detail about all of the exhibits, but let the photos speak for themselves.
An infinite tunnel of pretty lights. Or is it an illusion?
Ooh, a spooky green orb…must touch!
So yeah, who doesn’t love a ginormous psychedelic kaleidoscope?
One of the gajillion pics I took of the plasma orb. So much fun to play with!
The most au courant use for a human-sized kaleidoscope apparatus? A superselfie of course!
Hooray for touching things!
This mesmerizingly infinite display changes colours. Yes, I am indeed aware that there are other colours than purple.
Righteous stereoscopic pictures create a 3-D effect. They were cutting edge technology in their day.
Made you look!
There’s an entire room of holograms, but it also contains clowns. You have been warned.
This is a praxinoscope. While I don’t really go for dancing pipe-cleaner men with eccentric hairstyles, I am dying to use “praxinoscope” in my next Scrabble game.
These allsorts will not ruin your diet or spoil your dinner. They may, however, drive you mad since they do not exist.
If all that isn’t enough, there’s also a maze made entirely of mirrors. I dare ya.
Oh, and as for the severed heads, I was too chicken to ask a stranger to take my photo. I really must get over that. In the meantime, you can use your imagination. Better yet, visit Camera Obscura.
Acknowledgements and Disclosure: Many thanks to VisitScotland for providing me with a pass that got me free entry into this attraction. All opinions and related nonsense are purely my own.