Dark Chamber of the Old Havana is one of the 54 cameras of its kind in the world.
The Dark Chamber of the Old Havana built according to a design by renowned artist Leonardo Da Vinci, and inaugurated in Havana on April 2001, is a grant from the council of Cádiz (Spain) to Cuba through the intermediary of Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of the City and has a purely cultural function.
Located in the heart of the historic center of Havana, Old Square, on the top floor of Gomez Vila, a building constructed in 1909 to house the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Dark Chamber on a screen capture everything that happens in the vicinity of the property. It can be visited any day of the week, always between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm, and guided tours in Spanish, English, French and Italian languages are available.
Although greatly impressed by the effect that is created on the screen, to the point of appearing to be an instrument of the latest technology, its design is actually very old. Its operation is based on the principles of the reflections of light, an optical phenomenon studied by Aristotle and Leonardo Da Vinci.
General characteristics of the Dark Chamber of the Old Havana
Through a periscope (a mirror installed vertically with the ability to pivot 360 degrees) located 38.6 m in height and a set of mirrors reflecting on a concave screen of 1.80 m in diameter which allow a unique view of the architectural beauty of the old part of Havana … live images of Old Havana crisp full color and can be reached within about 5 kilometers visibility. The equipment was manufactured by the British Siden Optical Company. So far in the world there are only 54 darkrooms. Some of these are in Spain, England, Portugal, Havana and the United States.
From the Dark Chamber the visitor can observe up to five kilometer radius, where it can be seen what is happening in real time on rooftops, balconies and streets of Havana: ships entering and leaving the port, the traffic of cars, people who walk through the city without realizing that are observed from this ingenious device.
Before or after leaving the tour offered by the Chamber, you can also take advantage of the opportunity to go to the terrace and enjoy the aerial view of Old Havana. From there you can take very beautiful photos of the Old Square, the bay and up the Capitol. Then you can go down to the square and enjoy a cold beer at the factory, try the cafes of El Escorial or lunch at the famous Casa del Arroz (Rice House) of the Santo Angel Hotel; places that are also located in the Old Square .