The following article comes as a result of a Spanish Ministry R&D funded project entitled “Virtual Worlds in Early Cinema: Devices, Aesthetics and Audiences”. Our starting hypothesis is that some of the central ideas that define the metaverse’s virtual imaginary can be found in some of the visual devices and apparatuses from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. The article contextualizes and details how the desire for immersion, three-dimensional images, observation of replicas of our worlds, and living a non-narrative experience are contained in early optical devices such as magic lanterns, stereoscopic photography, panoramas, maréoramas or phantom rides. The main purpose is to illustrate that, despite the technological transformation, we ultimately are part of a long history where equivalences, parallelisms and returns arise between past and present times. The metaverse’s visual culture is no exception, and it gathers the imaginary of virtual worlds figured in some of the optical devices and visual spectacles of the past.