Make your way through a maze of illusions and view the city of Edinburgh from an extraordinary angle!

Before the pandemic, I visited Edinburgh for the second time in my life in 2019 with my family but, for the first time, I visited Edinburgh’s very own Camera Obscura & World of Illusions museum.

The museum is in a prime spot – right next to Edinburgh Castle itself, at the very start of the Royal Mile. The building itself consists of 6 floors, including the ground floor entrance and a rooftop terrace that offers a magnificent view of Edinburgh, as well as providing access to the main event – the camera obscura show.

We started the visit from the top floor and worked our way down; we soaked in the view of Edinburgh, even looking through some telescopes that you can operate for free, while we waited for the next camera obscura show. Once we got admitted into the small room that houses the apparatus, we enjoyed the display which, if you’re not familiar with the operation of camera obscuras, uses mirrors and light to project a real-time, inverted image onto a surface. It was really cool to view the streets down below and the people surrounding Edinburgh Castle on a small table, where we pretended to scoop them up with a piece of paper and drop them down again. It was a very entertaining part of the museum and is definitely a fun way to enjoy such a historic piece of equipment.

View of Edinburgh from the rooftop terrace

The next level, dubbed the Magic Gallery, had interactive illusions, where you could magnify your head, see your face intermingled with features of whoever you’re with, in my case I sat opposite my cousin and the results were quite weird but also amusing to see her eyes and my nose mismatched together. The electric green plasma globes were really cool too, which, of course, we played with while singing ‘The Power’ by Snap! – naturally!

We travelled down the stairs to the fourth floor, or the Light Fantastic floor, which uses light and illusions to mess with your head – but all in good fun! There’s a gallery of 3D photos that move and change as you walk by them, although I must warn any arachnophobes that, yes, there is one of a tarantula! The floor also had some really fun photo opportunities, including a coloured shadow wall, where your shadow is projected into multi colours – there were also props available, so I took the chance to project a penguin shadow onto the wall, while my cousin chose a bear. There is also an Ames Room, where you can be taller or shorter than everyone else. The Room is an optical illusion that distorts the reality of size and it’s fun to take some pictures there, especially when you’re taller than everyone else for once (if you’re on the short side like me!)

Shadow animals

Level 3, or Eye Spy Edinburgh, walks you through ways to distort your perspective of yourself! Here you can use the Victorian bendy mirrors to see yourself all stretched out, similar to social media filters, or take a photo of your body heat captured on a thermal camera. One part I really loved on this level was the infinity tunnel; the way the lights are dotted infinitely like stars and stretch out make you feel as though you’re floating in space, all with the reassuring guarantee that once you’ve walked through you will be firmly back on Earth.

The last level, Bewilderworld, has the big illusions, like a mirror maze, which is equally amusing and terrifying as, yes it’s funny walking into the mirror thinking you’re smart enough to find your way out, but also seeing yourself reflected a million times makes you walk into said mirrors quicker as you try to escape yourself. My personal favourite on this level is an illusion museum staple – a spinning tunnel! The nature of the trick always makes you question whether you had a few too many drinks beforehand, or maybe you’ve suddenly lost your ability to walk straight, though people who get dizzy easily may not find it as good. I, however, love the feeling of the illusion – am I walking straight? Is that the end of the tunnel? Am I going to fall over? Who knows! (You will, when you visit this mind-blowing museum.)

The wondrous infinity tunnel

You may leave the museum feeling slightly dizzy and maybe questioning your perception of reality but what is life without wonder? I personally love illusion museums and I think the mind-blowing effects are enough to entertain anyone, any age, any IQ. If you find yourself in the enigmatic city of Edinburgh, then I definitely recommend a trip to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, situated closely to one of Edinburgh’s main attractions, it is easy to find and very enjoyable.

To book tickets or learn more about this wonderful illusion museum, please visit their website at www.camera-obscura.co.uk/

Thank you for reading! If you would like to hear more about my trips to Edinburgh or have any comments or suggestions, please leave a comment down below!

Never stop wandering!

Header photo: Our entry stamps for Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
Date visited: August 2019

I am not affiliated with or have been paid to advertise Camera Obscura & World of Illusions; I have written this review purely as a recommendation for people to visit this wonderful place.

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