The Great Union Camera Obscura

One of the Island's stranger attractions, the Great Union Camera Obscura was constructed in 1887 for tourists to, well, let's not be coy about it, spy on other tourists.

Using a series of lenses and mirrors, it allows a 360° view of Dougles Head and harbour. Its design is unusual and, possibly, unique in that most cameras obscura feature a single, rotating lens whereas ours was built with eleven stationary lenses, projecting onto fixed tables.

Sadly neglected and left in a state of considerable decay for many years, the Camera Obscura has been fully and carefully restored to its former glory and provides an oddly other-worldly experience, as the silent tableaux unfold around you in the muted half-light. It's definitely worth a visit as one of the few places where you can experience genuine Victorian holiday entertainment in its purest form.


There is plenty of on-road parking nearby and there is an even, although sloping, path to the camera obscura. Access to the interior of the site is limited for disabled visitors due to a narrow doorway and the low lighting levels needed for the images to be viewed. There are no toilets at the site.

Contact Details

Douglas Head

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Opening Hours

Open May to mid-September (when the flag is flying)
Saturdays 1pm - 4pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am - 4pm


Admission is £2 for adults, £1 for senior citizens and students. Children are free. There are no card facilities, so it's cash only.

Published: 24 May 2023

The information provided is correct at the time of publishing. Please check with the organisation involved for the most up to date information.