To celebrate its 500th anniversary as a city, Tavira has been in the carnival spirit recently, with locals parading the avenues in costume and bandstands belting out festive music through the ancient city streets. To coincide with the celebrations, The Resident astronomy columnist, Clive Jackson, has unveiled a new tourist attraction – the Câmara Obscura (dark chamber), which offers panoramic real time views of the beautiful city.
Clive has been working non-stop on the project for five years. “We’ve been working like crazy to get it ready in time,” he explained at the opening party. “It is an idea I have had for ages. But, due to various problems surrounding the water tower (Torre de Tavira), it has taken longer than I hoped to complete the spectacle. We are all very happy with it and looking forward to its success as a new and exciting tourist attraction for the town.”
Based on an optical principle, the Câmara Obscura (dark chamber) is a relatively simple idea. Made up from an angled mobile mirror and two lenses placed at the end of a tube, the camera captures live images, which are beamed into the tower. These images are reflected back on a large, circular, dish-shaped horizontal screen. As the tower is at an altitude of almost 100 metres and the images that are seen of the city are in real time, visitors can see the movement and action as it happens – in other words, it’s a guided tour of Tavira without leaving the building.
Some experts claim that the idea of the Câmara Obscura originated in China in the fifth century AD; others claim Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322AD) was responsible.
The first Câmara Obscura in the Algarve is open to everybody. A guide, who describes the history of the city, accompanies groups of 15. It is certainly a different way to visit the city. For more information about the Câmara Obscura, call 281 321 754.