Camera Obscura

“I’ve done some research on Edinburgh,” Dave told me before our trip, “and the Camera Obscura struck me as the most intriguing.”

imageAt the time, I filed his remark away amid an ever-growing list of things to do. Yesterday, amid the throngs of tourists in the streets on their way up to the Edinburgh Castle, my gaze fell on the Camera Obscura “lighthouse.” We hoofed it over.

imageEstablished in 1853, the six floors of displays at the Camera Obscura does not disappoint. (Photo at left is the first of many optical illusions.) We almost missed our 10 a.m. appointment at the top level observatory getting lost in the Bewilderment Room, a maze of mind-bending mirrors. The proprietors keep the place up to date (I enjoyed watching a five-year-old kick a soccer ball on a virtual field) but also true to its 19th century origins.

imageThat is, the top floor camera obscura, still in operation based on its simple principle of mirror-reflected light. After being treated to a 360-degree visual and informative guided tour of the city, we then stepped outside on the parapet to see it all with our own eyes. True to our 21st century reality, a big attraction these days is the view of Heriot’s School, of which it is said J.K. Rowling had a clear view from her window as she wrote about Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft in Harry Potter.

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