Since it officially opened to the public, on June 24th, 2004, the Camera Obscura has become an
icon of Tavira along with the many monuments and historic spaces of the city. In fact, it has
become Tavira's most popular paid for visitor attraction. A remarkable feat of design and
ingenuity: the Camera Obscura – Tavira Eye.
The Camera Obscura in the Tower of Tavira offers a splendid and tremendous voyage of Tavira city. It is like a 360-degree birds eye view above the cultural and historical heritage of Tavira. Up to 15 people can attend each show-session with a guide who informs and explains about the culture and the history of this wonderful city. You will discover our history and enjoy the experience in a quite different way, about 100 feet above sea level from the inside of the former water tower! Inside the Camera Obscura you will look at the city in real time; and will have a lively panoramic view over the whole city and its surroundings. Each show lasts approximately 30 minutes. You will find the times scheduled below in this site or at our reception desk.
"The principle of the camera obscura is as simple as it seems magical even today. In a camera obscura the rays of light from an observed scene pass through a small aperture in one side of a closed room in such a way (following the laws of optics) as to cross and re-emerge on the other side of the aperture in a divergent configuration". The surroundings of the projected image must be dark for the image to be clear, so the first historical camera obscura experiments were performed in dark rooms with a small hole bored into one of its walls. Photography was not invented by just one person, but was developed by the exchange of different experiences, which stimulated at least a dozen of researchers. Therefore, the first important discovery for the development of photography was the camera obscura. Some historians attribute the discovery of optical laws to the Chinese Mo Tsu, a Chinese thinker in (500 B.C.); others see the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) as the father of the first clear description of the camera obscura. In the following centuries, the principles of the camera obscura became common amongst the European circle of scholars. They used these principles when observing solar eclipses without endangering their eyesight. Already in the 16th century the camera obscura was used as an auxiliary device for drawings and paintings. Familiar with these early studies, Leonardo da Vinci (1478-1519) published the first clear description of the camera obscura in his "The Codex Atlanticus" (Atlantic Codex) a 12-volume, bound set of drawings and writings (in Italian), the largest single set. In his notepad about mirrors Leonardo da Vinci gave a description of the camera obscura, also compared the human eye to the camera obscura: "For the image is let into the eye through the eyeball just as here through the window." In 1620 the astronomer Johannes Kepler used the camera obscura for his topographic drawings, claimed he used it “as a mathematician, not as a painter”. For more than a hundred years, it has been suggested that the great 17th-century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer made use of the camera obscura as an aid to painting. The camera obscura was the predecessor of the photographic camera, but without the light-sensitive film or plate. The Italian landscape painters Canaletto (1697–1768), and Bernardo Bellotto (c. 1721–1780) are said by some art historians to have used the camera obscura to create perspective views of Venice and other cities too.
Site made by André Pereira