The monitoring system for a gas turbine engine including a viewing tube assembly having an inner end and an outer end. The inner end is located adjacent to a hot gas flow path within the gas turbine engine and the outer end is located adjacent to an outer casing of the gas turbine engine. An aperture wall is located at the inner end of the viewing tube assembly and an optical element is located within the viewing tube assembly adjacent to the inner end and is spaced from the aperture wall to define a cooling and purge chamber therebetween. An aperture is defined in the aperture wall for passage of light from the hot gas flow path to the optical element. Swirl passages are defined in the viewing tube assembly between the aperture wall and the optical element for passage of cooling air from a location outside the viewing tube assembly into the chamber, wherein swirl passages effect a swirling movement of air in a circumferential direction within the chamber.