The Blue Eye (Albanian: Syri i kaltër) is a water spring, natural phenomenon occurring in Sarande, Albania. A popular tourist attraction, the clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a stunning, more than fifty-metre-deep pool. Divers have descended to fifty metres, but it is still unclear what the actual depth of the karst hole is.
While southern Albania holds numerous archaeological wonders, the country’s stunning nature and landscapes also make it a worthwhile destination. The region’s mountainous territory gives for surprising and dramatic landscapes – to be enjoyed either for their own sake or as the backdrop of historical sites, like the ancient cities of Butrint and Byllis or the modern city of Gjirokastër, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A spot of natural beauty of the former kind is the Blue Eye, known in Albanian as Syri Kaltër, which is located on the road between the cities of Sarande, on the Ionian Sea, and Gjirokastër, situated further inland.
The Blue Eye is a 45-metre deep water spring set amid a forest of hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, pines and fir trees.
The water in the inner part of the spring appears very dark blue, like the pupil of an eye, and a lighter colour of blue as an outer ring – the iris, which gives the impression of a blue eye.
It is said the Blue Eye was blocked off to the general population during the communist days, only to be enjoyed by the ruling party members. This is a testimony to the place’s stunning beauty and goes to explain the site’s high level of conservation.
Although it is possible, in theory, to swim and dive in the pool, the water maintains an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius, making it is in fact difficult to dip in more then a foot.
Some visitors also like to throw stones into the spring’s centre, only to see them pushed back up to the surface after a while.
Another pleasant, and perhaps a more fulfilling, activity at the site is enjoying lunch at the restaurant, located near the Blue Eye’s waterfall. The venue has tables built on a balustrade above a fresh spring water river, which creates a cool breeze moving upward – a welcome factor in the summer heat that is not to be underestimated. The restaurant serves traditional Albanian food, like roast lamb and grilled fish.
Another option is to have a picnic in a designated area near the Blue Eye. There are some tables set amongst a wooded area, which provides a pleasant shade.