Camera Obscura - Tavira Eye


Welcome to the Tower of Tavira! Discover the world of Camera Obscura in the 21st century. Discovery the city from its latest lookout point, which is not only unique but also offers an extraordinary attraction: the CAMERA OBSCURA - Tavira Eye. Experience the principles and the laws of optics, which created the basis of photography and was understood by Leonardo da Vinci. We offer access to the CAMERA OBSCURA and the chance to have a breath-taking voyage over this charming city of Tavira.

The Experience

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 old water Tower was built and opened in 1931 to supply water to the whole city. Although it has not been used for a long time, it has always been a charismatic and extraordinary building.
In 2004 it was renovated and converted into a point of cultural interest and a unique touristic attraction: The TOWER OF TAVIRA with the installation of the first CAMERA OBSCURA of its kind (in an old water tower) in Portugal.
Originally, the construction of the water Tower dates to 1931 and was intended to supply water to the population of Tavira. But after it was disused and abandoned it was planned to be demolished, the population voted in a referendum for its preservation, on 13th June 1999. Its popularity has prompted it to be converted into what is today the Camera Obscura Tavira Eye.
As always, it has been a permanent fixture on the Tavira’s skyline and symbol of modern Tavira with the best practice of re-use of a derelict building converted into a sustainable project that uses the direct light of the Algarve`s Sun and now a tourist attraction: the Tower of Tavira with the installation of the first Camera Obscura in the Algarve.

What is

"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.

How It Works?

The CAMERA OBSCURA in the Tower of Tavira is based on a quite simple optic principle. It is composed of a rotating mirror and double achromatic lens fixed to the end of a tube which is attached to the apex of the roof of the water tower. It is a kind of periscope, which catches the live images of the city and its surroundings and sends them to the inside of the tower onto a horizontal screen, which has a diameter of more than two meters. Through a window the light gets in, falls onto the mirror, passes the lenses, and reflects the image onto the screen. In real time the CAMERA OBSCURA sends you on a 360-degree voyage, showing you everything that happens outside the water Tower building.
The Camera Obscura is an ancient optical device. In its most basic form it is, quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall. On the wall opposite the hole, an image is formed of whatever is outside. This image is upside-down (inverted) and back to front (laterally transposed).
The size of the hole has a great effect on the picture that is being projected. A small hole produces a sharp image, which is dim, while a larger hole produces a brighter picture which is less well focused. This happens because light travels in straight lines, a property known as the rectilinear propagation of light. Observations of and experimentation with camera obscura have taken place since very early times.
Our camera obscura is built in the room style with a lens mounted horizontally in the ceiling and a mirror at forty-five degrees placed above it, the whole lens and mirror can be turned offering a complete 360-degree view. Our F15 rated lens produces a good image even on a dull day.

Tickets And Prices

Adults / Students / Seniors (all ages): 5,00 Euros.
Children (4 to 12 years old): 3,00 Euros.
Family: 15,00 Euros (Two Adults and Two Children up to 12 years old).

Groups with more than 10 members contact us in time to make the appointment by e-mail:

Prices and opening hours subject to change.

Note: Camera Obscura reserves the right to make changes in the prices and hours of operation and to close the space if there are factors that compromise the safety of visitors or due to weather conditions.

Before Visiting please check:

Opening hours: 11h00 - 15h00 - Monday to Friday

Visit duration: approximately 30 minutes

The last Camera Obscura session is held half an hour before closing.

We close on December 25 and January 1 and during the annual staff collective vacation period and in the winter for the annual maintenance period.

Additional Information

- The images are moving and in real time.

- This activity is not recommended for those with vertigo, heart problems or other serious medical conditions.

- The activity is not suitable for children under 4 years old. Children up to 12 years old must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.

- Wheelchair accessible.


Finding Us

Camera Obscura Tavira
Calçada da Galeria 12, 8800-306 Tavira, Portugal

Vista 360º

Calçada da Galeria Nº 12, 8800-306 Tavira, Portugal 
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Municipio de Tavira
Freguesia de Tavira - Santa Maria e Santiago

Co - Financed by:

Compete 2020
Portugal 2020
União Europeia
CRESC Algarve 2020
Turismo de Portugal

Site made by André Pereira