I have visited Albania several times, but I still believe that one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in this country is “Blue Eye”, a water spring with blue water that bubbles from a stunning and more than fifty meter deep pool.
Blue Eye, known in Albanian as Syri i Kaltër, is located on the road between the cities of Saranda, on the Ionian Sea, and Gjirokastër, situated further inland. It is set amid a forest of hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, pines and oak trees.
Because of its oval shaped form and of the water, which is coming out of the earth, deep blue in the center and light blue at the sides, the spring looks like a human eye. Nobody knows how deep it is. Divers who tried to reach the bottom because of the pressure of the water have managed to go only 45 meters deep. Visitors can throw a stone into the center of this spring, and after a while they see the same stone coming up again on the surface of it.
We visited the Blue Eye on a very hot and sunny day in June. It was quiet and cool in the traditional wood and stone built restaurant, where they served us excellent trout on the terrace near the blue and transparent river.
After lunch we made a walk to the spring, passing through a dense forest and under ancient oak trees. Many dragonflies were playing around, showing us their stunning blue and gold colors. We discovered that the water in the inner part of the spring really looked like the pupil of an eye, with a lighter color of blue as an outer ring – the iris.
It is said that Blue Eye was blocked off to the general population during the communist days, only to be enjoyed by the ruling party members, in particular by Enver Hoxha himself. This probably explains the site’s high level of conservation.
Many legends are told about Blue Eye. People say that the spring was named by an engineer in a hydro-power station, as it reminded him of the blue eyes of his beloved. An ancient legend tells that the waters sprung to the earth from a dragon that was burned by a clever peasant who had fed it a mule loaded with touchwood and cinder.
Another story says that in October 2002 the spring dried up, all of a sudden, and turned into a blind eye of white color. This happened when some Italian representatives came to Saranda to talk about the possibilities to exploit the underground water of Blue Eye. Many people believed that divine powers were involved and that this was a sort of punishment against those who wanted to bargain with Blue Eye.
We spent a great day in the surroundings of this natural treasures and we were happy when we were allowed to park our campernear the restaurant and spend the night in this green oasis, illuminated by the full moon and numerous fireflies!