In various tales dragons had red, green or gold eyes. The Albanian ones are blue - or at least one of them. The dragon overlooks the world from a small country in southern Europe, from a place located approx. 25 km from the city of Sarande, near the Greek border.
Are there blue-eyed dragons, we don’t know exactly. But what we know for sure is that the southern part of Albania is full of wonderfully fragrant fir forests, cherries and nuts. It’s cut by several sources, the most beautiful of which astonishes with the comeliness when seen from above. It’s called Syri and Kaltër, which means "Blue Eye".
We can reach it via the road from Saranda to Gjirokastra. Next to the information board we have to turn left, then go ahead until we reach the artificial lake. There’s a shed with a guard, who charges a fee for entrance to the park. If you have a car, you will pay approx. 200 LEK (approx. 1,5 EUR). We pass through the dam, then follow the road running along the river, slightly uphill. Blue Eye is waiting for us at the end of the route.
Blue Eye hidden in the forest
The place, where sources hve its origins creates a small pond, and the constant gurgling of the stream flowing out from under the rocks makes the place simply magical. Apparently, it flows out from a depth of over 45 meters. In the central part the water is clearly darker than on the outskirts, thanks to which Syri and Kaltër looks like a big eye from above. To find out for yourself, you have to stand on the terrace suspended above the source. It’s also a platform for daredevils’ jumping, who are not afraid of the water temperature oscillating around 13°C.
In another section, the source creates a river, where you can sail on a small boat, admiring the crystallinity of water and myriads of plants gently swaying beneath its surface.
Here, even dragonflies are blue
Blue Eye hasn’t always been available for the public. In the second half of the twentieth century it could be seen only by honored guests of Enver Hoxha, the communist leader of Albania. It’s difficult to say if members of the Albanian tops were able to appreciate the beauty of dragon eye, anyway, "ordinary" citizens didn’t even have a chance to do that. And it has to be admitted that you can easily fall in love with Syri and Kaltër. It would seem that it was nature, who created the landscape, basing on a variety of shades of green and blue. Perhaps a talented painter could reproduce it on canvas with just one, skillfully toned color.
According to one theory, the "father" of the name Dragon Eye was an engineer of a hydroelectric plant, who wished to commemorate the eye color of his beloved girl. Another - not so much a theory as a legend - states that the source is in fact the eye of the great dragon, who was killed in this place by an Albanian peasant. Whatever the truth, the source attracts more and more tourists each year. And it is pretty obvious why.
Tourists visit the Eye of the Dragon during their stay in Sarande, which is the most popular among all Albanian centers. It owes the popularity to the location – it is situated in a beautiful bay, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. In addition, it’s near the border with Greece.
The charm of the resort is also evidenced by the fact that both Albanians and Kosovars prefer to come here for their honeymoon. Holiday in Sarande is not only a great option for leisure, but also for active exploration of all attractions of southern Albania. In the summer the temperatures are really nice, but without unbearable heat (daily temperatures oscillate around 30°C). The water in the sea is terribly transparent, which is a considerable achievement of pebble bottom.
If we have more time, we can visit the ancient city of Butrint, ruins in Finiq, the beach Ksamil, and also village Vrin, with the castle of Ali Pasha. The area is also full of various tourist attractions, perfect both for amateurs of history as well as lovers of nature.