Albania, last europes unexplored destination
Welcome to a small country with undiscovered tradition , this is Albania . The place of “eagle” ,the heart of tradition and hospitality. The country of “two seas” Ionian and Adriatic well known for diversity of flora and fauna. The ancient cities and castels :Berati the city of 1001 windows, Gjirokastra of Ismail Kadare, Shkodra of Rozafa, Kruja of Skanderbeg, the hero of liberty. National parks such as Blue Eye, 7 lakes of Lura , the paradise of farytales Thethi and Valbona ,Llogara the place of clouds . The history of “Gods” , writen deeply in the mountain of Tomorri . Albania doesn’t need a lot to describe , it only needs friends to come and discover each part of the turism ofered 12 months of the year. Albania has 300 days of sun
What to visit in Albania? Thethi National Park The “National Park of Theth” lies into the center of the Albanians Alps, between the block “Bjeshket te Nëmuna” on the west, and the block of Jezerca on the east. Thethi is a tourist – alpinist region and it is the most important one north of the country. It is only 70 km away from the city of Shkodra. It is a part of the commune Shalë within the region of Dukagjin. The park is surrounded from all four angles with pitons (rocky) of the two blocks above, which ascend down towards the valley and create an amazing view. Some of the most astonishing parts of this national park are the following: The peak of Radoines (2570m), Arapit (2217m), Paplukës (2569m), Alisë (2471m) etc. Hanging 750–800 meters below within the valle stretches the pictorial village of Theth. The Geological Features The “National park of Theth” is 172 km north of the capital of Tirana: 148 km of which is asphalt and the last 24 km is un-asphalted. The valley of Theth is frequently visited from all local and foreign tourists. Right into the heart of the northern Alps, between the historic rocky mountains, amazingly green panoramas and the numerous crystal fountains, this valley lies 900 meters above the sea level. Valbona Valley Valbona Valley National Park With an area of 8,000 hectares Valbona Valley National Park is the gem of Albanian Alps – Accursed Mountains. Valbona is the name of the river which flows through the Valbona Valley and the village bearing the same name located in the Tropoja District of Northern Albania. The district of Valbona Valley, bordering Kosovo to the northeast, and Montenegro to the northwest, in combination with the adjacent Theth district to the west, encompasses a region called the Malësi in Albanian, which translates roughly as “The Highlands”. Valbona River Valley is located 25-30 km to the north west of Bajram Curri town in Northern Albania and is adjacent to the Theth National Park. Valbona Valley lies between the rugged and remote and breathtaking mountain peaks and makes a festival of colors and contrasts. Its biodiversity makes it very important as a tourist attraction. The Valbona River is crystal clear and is well known for its clean water, where visitors can swim, catch fishes and do canoeing and kayaking. The Valbona River flows throughout the Valbona Valley to the Drin River. Valbona village is the focal point of the Valbona National Park. Its configuration, hydrology, forests, flowers, characteristic dwellings and the hospitality of its people, make this park an ideal place to visit and invigorate. The village of Valbona is secluded, with few lodging possibilities for travelers, no stores, post office, doctors, gas station…. Rocky and dramatically steep high peaks, such as Jezerce, Iron, Kollata (Podi of Kollatës), and Pecmarrës attract hikers, adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world. Agricultural and livestock products or the Valbona Valley National Park and area are completely natural, and entirely organic. Food is generally fresh and home made, but it is also sometimes processed and canned by the inhabitants of the tiny and remote villages. Stunning nature, clean air, high and characteristic mountain peaks, lakes, numerous water resources, forests, mountains, flora and fauna of Valbona Valley National Park provide conditions for true eco tourism experiences. There are wonderful well-marked hiking trails that connect the whole area, providing hikers and nature lovers to explore places in Valbona Valley, but also in Plav Lake and Visitor Lake/Mt in Montenegro and further breathtaking trails …. Komani Lake Komani Lake (Albanian: Liqeni i Komanit) is a reservoir on the Drin River in northern Albania. Lake Koman is surrounded by dense forested hills, vertical slopes, deep gorges, and a narrow valley, completely taken up by the river. Besides the Drin, it is fed by the Shala and Valbona Rivers. The lake stretches in an area of 34 km 2 (13 sq mi), its width being 400 m (0.25 mi). The narrowest gorge, which is surrounded by vertical canyon walls, is more than 50 m (0.031 mi) wide. The reservoir was constructed between 1979 and 1988 near the village of Koman with a height of 115 m (377 ft). [ The combination of specific topography and hydrological conditions, have contributed to the formation of different habitats. The golden jackal, red fox, european badger, eurasian otter, beech marten, european polecat are the primary predatory mammals. ] A high number of bird species have been observed in the region, including the common kingfisher, common quail, grey heron, eurasian wryneck, great spotted woodpecker and black-headed gull. [ [ The Lake Koman Ferry operates daily on the lake from Koman to Fierza. The ferry connects the city of Bajram Curri to the region of Tropojë. The journey takes about two and a half hours and is also popular with the foreign tourists. Smaller boats bring people and goods to remote villages, which are often far away from the lake, but can only be reached by water. [ Rozafas Castle Rozafa Castle is associated with a famous legend about a woman who was buried in the foundation of the castle, and here it goes: “Its legend, archeology and history testify to its early existence. The legend is about the initiative of three brothers who set about building the castle. They worked all day, but the walls fell down at night. They met a clever old man who advised them to sacrifice someone so that the walls would stand. The three brothers found it difficult to decide whom to sacrifice Finally, they decided to sacrifice one of their wives who would bring lunch to them the next day. So they agreed that whichever of their wives was the one to bring them lunch the next day was the one who would be buried in the wall of the castle. They also promised not to tell their wives of this. The two older brothers, however, explained the situation to their wives that night, while the honest youngest brother said nothing. The next afternoon at lunch time, the brothers waited anxiously to see which wife was carrying the basket of food. It was Rozafa, the wife of the youngest brother. He explained to her what the deal was, that she was to be sacrificed and buried in the wall of the castle so that they could finish building it, and she didn’t protest. . Rozafa, who was predestined to be walled, was worried about her infant son, so she accepted being walled on condition that they must leave her right breast exposed so as to feed her newborn son, her right hand to caress him and her right foot to rock his cradle: I plead When you wall me Leave my right eye exposed Leave my right hand exposed Leave my right foot exposed For the sake of my newborn son So that when he starts crying Let me see him with one eye Let me caress him with one hand Let me feed him with one breast Let me rock his cradle with one foot May the castle breast be walled May the castle rise strong May my son be happy. Kruja Kastle Kruja is just 32km away from Tirana and very close to Tirana international airport. This Historic city is 608m above sea level and offers an open vista to an amazing panoramic view The name and the importance of the city are closely related to the 25 years of activity of our national hero, Skanderbeg, who in the fifteenth century made Kruja a bastion of uncompromising resistance against the Ottoman. The Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg Museum is situated inside the castle walls, which date back to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. The museum itself was inaugurated in 1981. Within the walls of the castle are also the Ethnographic Museum and the Dollma Tekke. Near the castle’s entrance is a traditional market, which dates back to the period of Skanderbeg. Here, tourists can find Albanian craft products such as embroidered items, carpeting, silver objects, copper, alabaster, filigree, traditional clothing, antiques at the traditional Old Baazar of Kruja . Tirana, capital city of Albania Tirana is the capital city of the Republic of Albania. Tirana is located in the center of Albania and is enclosed by mountains and hills, with Dajt on the east and a slight valley on the northwest overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Due to its location within the Plain of Tirana and the close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the city is particularly influenced by a mediterranean seasonal climate. It is among the wettest and sunniest cities in Europe, with 2,544 hours of sun per year. [ Tirana flourished as a city in 1614 but the region that today corresponds to the city’s territory was continuously inhabited since the Iron Age. The city’s territory was inhabited by several Illyrian tribes but had no importance within Illyria. Indeed, it was annexed by Rome and became an integral part of the Roman Empire following the Illyrian Wars. The heritage of that period is still evident and represented by the Mosaics of Tirana while further later in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleo Christian basilica was built around this site. When the Roman Empire fell into east and west in the 4th century, its successor the Byzantine Empire subsequently took control over most of Albania and included the construction of the Petrelë Castle, under the reign of Justinian I. Until the 20th century, the city did not attain much significance, when the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed it as the country’s capital, after the country’s declaration of independence in 1912. Tirana is the most important economic, financial, political and trade center in Albania due to its significant location in the center of the country and its modern air, maritime, rail and road transportation. It is the seat of power of the Government of Albania, the residences for work of the President and Prime Minister of Albania and the Parliament of Albania. Berati Berat is the ninth largest city by population of the Republic of Albania. The city is the capital of the surrounding Berat County, one of 12 constituent counties of the country. By air, it is 71 kilometres (44 miles) north of Gjirokastër, 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Korçë, 70 kilometres (43 miles) south of Tirana and 33 kilometres (21 miles) east of Fier. Geographically, Berat is located in the south of the country surrounded by mountains and hills including Tomorr on the east that was declared a national park. For a total length of 161 kilometres (100 miles) the Osum River runs through the city before it empties into the Seman River within the Myzeqe Plain. Berat, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, comprise a unique style of architecture with influences from several civilizations that have managed to coexist for centuries throughout the history. Like many cities in Albania, Berat comprises an old fortified city filled with churches and mosques painted with grandiose wealth of visible murals and frescos. The city’s life began in the 6 th-5 th century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded afterwards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the Muzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with valuable frescoes and icons, and also a calligraphy school. Uniquely today, residents still live inside of the castle walls. The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located. In Mangalemi, below the castle, you can see the famous view of the facades of the houses, with windows that seem to stand above each other. In general, a traditional house has two floors, where the second is prominent and has many cambered windows and wood carvings. With its houses built along the steep hill, the view of Mangalemi is the reason that another name for Berat is the City of the Floating Windows. Karavastas lagoon The Karavasta Lagoon (Albanian: Laguna e Karavastasë) is the largest lagoon in Albania and one of the largest in the Mediterranean Sea. The lagoon is situated in the west of Albania and the largest town found near the lagoon is Lushnjë. The lagoon is cut of from the Adriatic Sea by a long sandy bar. The Karavasta lagoon has many pine trees and small sandy islands. The lagoon is famous for the rare Dalmatian Pelican which nests there: In fact 5% of the world’s population of this type of pelican is found in this lagoon. The Karavasta Lagoon is within the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance and part of the Divjake-Karavasta National Park. The Divjaka-Karavasta National Park is the largest non-coastal complex in Albania with an area of 22,230.2 hectares, made of four lagoons with a total of approximately 5,000 hectares, of sand dunes and a river delta. It is situated in the central part of Western Region, between Shkumbini River in the north and Seman River in the south, 40 km west of Lushnja, by the Adriatic coast. Divjakë-Karavasta National Park is listed as Ramsar site since 1994. There is a Mediterranian Pine Forest near the Karavasta lagoon, and it contains one of the most interesting faunas of the country. Divjakë-Karavasta area provides the special conditions for accommodation of a number of plant communities and animal species, among which many of them are at risk of extinction in the world such as Pelican (Pelicanus crispus Bruch). The lagoons provide living conditions and breeding sites above the 5% of the world population of this bird. The islands in the lagoon are one of the most important features of the area for the conservation of birds. Although in the past, the Dalmatian pelicans have nested in other parts of the lagoon, they now only nest on these islands, owning to disturbance elsewhere. In addition, many of the other important breeding birds of the lagoon nest on the island because they are safe from predators and human disturbance. These include Collared pratincole (Glareola pratincola) and Little tern (Sterna albifrons). Apollonia The ancient city of Apollonia is situated in southwestern Albania, about 13 miles from the city of Fier. The fascinating landscape of the archeological park, which has been preserved in an exceptionally intact condition, comprises a successful combination between the beauty of monuments and nature, attractive through its long history, in an atmosphere of relaxation and meditation. Its foundation took place immediately after the foundation of Epidamnus – Dyrrachium and quickly became one of the most eminent cities of the Adriatic basin, which was mentioned more frequently from the other 30 (thirty) cities bearing the same name during Antiquity. The city lay in the territory of the political communion of the Taulantii and was broadly known as Apollonia of Illyria. According to the tradition it was founded during the first half of the 6 th century BC by Greek colonist from Corfu and Corinth, led by Gylax, which named the city after his name ( Gylakeia). After its quick establishment the city changed its name to Apollonia, according to the powerful divinity Apollo. It stands on a hilly plateau from where expands the fertile plain of Musacchia with the Adriatic Sea and the hills of Mallakastra. The ruins of Apollonia are discovered in the beginning of the 19 th century. The city flourished during the 4 th century AD as an important economic and trade center. This archaeologic park or site contain also a Museum of Archaeology that is situated at the old Monastery of Saint Mary . Monastery of Zvernec Monastery of Saint Mary, also known as the Monastery of Zvernec, is an important cultural monument on the Zvernec Island in the Narta Lagoon. The Byzantine church, build in the 13th century is a spiritual oasis for Christians in the area. At the heart of the monastic complex you’ll find the Church of holy Mary, a beautiful place of worship, peaceful and surrounded by evergreens. Visitors to Vlore often add this architectural gem to their itineraries, particularly on August 15, when the celebrationf of Virgin Mary brings here pilgrims from all over Albania. Another important event held here is the carnival of Narta, during the Orthodox Easter. Military island of Sazan THE MYSTIC ISLAND OF SAZAN A MYSTERIOUS military island with secret bunkers and tunnels designed to withstand nuclear attack could be the next European summer vacation hotspot. Sazan Island, located off the coast of Albania, has a pristine coastline, but it is still shrouded in mystery, even to most Albanians. That’s because the island was once a fortified, isolated military base and has never had any civilian population. It was first used by Italy’s fascist regime during the 1930s. Albania’s post-World War II communist regime considered it the country’s “airplane carrier, the port of defence, the key to controlling the Otranto Strait,” according to officers from that era. The island’s trenches and tunnels were built by the communist government to stave off a Western invasion. And although communism fell in 1992, the ruined buildings still contain old beds, kitchen utensils, school benches and chairs. Now, Albania’s Defence ministry is officially opening up the subtropical island to tourists. Defence Minister Mimi Kodheli signed an agreement with the Economy Minister Milva Ekonomi on Wednesday to allow tourists to visit during the warmer months, from May until October. The decision came about after many tour operators insisted that visiting the island would be a popular attraction, Ms Ekonomi said. And considering tourism is a main source of income for the cash-strapped Balkan country, she said opening Sazan Island up to tourists is “an important event for the Albanian economy” Ms Kodheli said Sazan would “no doubt” be a popular tourist attraction “due to its position”. The island is strategically located where the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea — where the popular Geek Ionian Islands are — meet. The Albanian government is also considering letting tourists visit two other naval military bases close to the island — Pashe Alimani and Orikum — with archaeological sites found there. Karaburun Peninslula Karaburun Peninsula is one of the most amazing places to visit in Albania. It is part of Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park. Besides the beautiful coves hidden in the rugged coast of the peninsula, Karaburun is home to 20 caves that are visited by the fans of water sports and diving enthusiasts. The caves vary in length and depth. The biggest and at the same time the most famous is Haxhi Alia cave, one of the biggest in Albania. The cave is 60 meters high and 40 meters deep. A small lake can be found inside the case while traces of fire can be noticed on the walls. According to a local legend, the cave was used by famous pirate Haxhi Ali during the 17th century. He and his crew used the cave as a shelter. The favorable position of the peninsula allowed him to attack and rob Venetian, Dalmatian, Turkish and many other ships. Haxhi Ali and his son were killed by the Venetians in Sazani Island, but the location of their graves is unknown. The Cave of the English is another known destination in Karaburun. It took this name during World War Second, when the Special Operations Executive, a British organization based in Cairo created a military basis in the cave in support to its mission in Albania. The name of the basis was Seaview and it was used for different missions in the region. This is an optimal location for divers that want to explore the marine life. Moreover, another destination that can be reached by boat or after a hiking trip is Grama Bay. This is a must explore the site for a great tourism adventure in the peninsula. Marmiroi Church The Church of Marmiroi (Kisha e Marmiroit) is one of the oldest churches in the Balkans – possibly built during the Byzantine period around the twelfth century. It is located in a picturesque site at the foot of Karaburun Mountains, 2 km west of Orikum. The church is built with stones from the uncultivated river bed nearby, and the gates and facades are built with stones recovered from the ruins of the ancient Oriku. The construction served as a model for the St. Mary’s Monastery in Zverneci. Featuring beautiful examples of wall paintings and frescoes representing pieces of Byzantine culture, the Church of Marmiroi (Kisha e Marmiroit) has been very well preserved, being a remarkable sample of an ancient architecture. The Church of Marmiroi is a major attraction for tourists visiting Orikum, Vlore and the surrounding areas. Oriku The Archaeological Park of Orik, a favourite tourist destination for its maritime and mountain nature, history and culture, has undergone a rehabilitation process. During his visit there, accompanied by the Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro, the Prime Minister was acquainted with the plans and projects to transform it into a natural and archaeological park at the same time. “Along with the Excavation Commission of the Institute of Archaeological Studies, excavations are continuing and meanwhile we are making a project to propose the organization of a larger park area and to propose a natural and archaeological park at the same time. The project is in cooperation with the University of Geneva, Faculty of Architecture and Archaeology”, Minister Kumbaro informed. Known for its important role in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey in the years 49-48 BC, the park of Orik has seen an increased number of visitors in recent years. “We have a 110% increase in the number of tourists in 2017, as compared to 2013”, Minister Kumbaro said. An important part of this archaeological park is the “Monumental Fountain”, “Northern Entrance 2”, discovered in recent years, and the “Ruins of the Medieval Church”. As new excavations are underway, other important parts of this ancient civilization have come to light. “A Byzantine tower has been discovered, as well as the part of the fortified wall of the Byzantine period of the ancient city. Excavations were conducted at the northern entrance of the city where another part of the surrounding wall has been discovered along with a church of the Paleochristian period in the acropolis of the city, also with later reconstruction phases. Archaeological excavations have shown that this city is unique in terms of urban planning and architecture Llogara National Park Llogara National Park Llogara National Park is the largest national Park of Albania situated about 40 km to the southeast of Vlora, at the entrance to the region of Himara, where the Adriatic Sea becomes the Ionian Sea. The Llogara National Park, situated in the Llogara Mountain has been proclaimed in 1966 the protected zone on the surface of 810 hectares, combining beauties of a mountain and seaside climate and making one of Albania’s most valuable tourist attractions. Driving along the coastal road from Oricum to Dhermi one passes along the famous Llogara Pass – a spectacular winding road which reaches 1017 meters, and overlooks the Ionian coast of the gorgeous Albanian Riviera. At the top of the Llogara pass, a large panorama point – 1000 m above sea level offers a breathtaking view of the Ionian Sea, with a steep slope lunging down to the water’s edge. The Llogara National Park specifically protects the forests on the north side of the Llogara pass from a height of 470 meters to 2018 meters above sea level. The Llogara National Park starts at 470 meters above sea level and climbs to 2018 meters and it offers great possibilities of eco-tourism, air sports, hiking and picnics. After 20 minutes of driving along the National Highway in south of Albania, one enters the beautiful Albanian Riviera. Here, you can stay overnight in the park and enjoy the restaurants, contemporary clubs, outdoor activities and excursions. Lots of black pine /Pinus nigra/ trees, Bosnian Pines /Pinus heldreichii/, Bulgarian fir /Abies borisii-sign/ and ash trees /Fraxinus/ are found in the Llogara National Park. You can enjoy part of its magical natural beauty while traveling along the Vlorë-Sarandë National Highway at Qafa e Llogarasë, 1025 m above sea level. The Llogara National Park is habitat for Griffin Vulture, Golden Eagle, Rock Partridge, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, European Wildcat, Chamois, Red Squirrel, Eurasian Otter, European Otter, Stone Marten, Wolf and Red Fox. Beginning not long after Dhërmi, the road to Llogara pass is a brand new road, very well designed and has an excellent condition, one of the best in Albania. Moreover, the view is stunning and is worth the travel. Mount Cika Mount of Cika is a mountain in the south-western region of Albania bordering the Ionian Sea. Cika is the highest peak of the Ceraunian Range, standing at 2,044m above sea level and peak of Qorrës is at 2,018m. Since the mountain is situated bordering the Ionian sea, it appears to be very high as it begins to rise at sea level (0m). The northern part of Cika is part of Llogara National Park. The port city of Vlorë is 40 km north-west of Cika. On the peaks of Cika mountain there is a magnificent view of the northern Ionian Islands as well as the Italian coast of Apulia (including Otranto). On the foot of the western side of the mountain there are small beaches which attract tourists during the summer months. Dhermi Dhërmi is a village in Vlorë County, Albania. It is part of the municipality Himarë. The village lies 42 kilometers south of the city of Vlorë and about the same distance north of the southern city of Sarandë. The village is built on a slope of the Ceraunian Mountains at approximately 200 meters in altitude. It comprises three neighborhoods: Gjilek, Kondraq (also known as Kallam), and Dhërmi itself. The mountains descend to the southwest into the Ionian coast and Corfu in the distance to the south. Nearby is the village of Palasë. Recently the coastal area has seen a boom in the construction of accommodation facilities, such as wooden villa complexes. In addition, it is considered by the Albanian youth as a nightlife destination. It has a new large promenade by the sea , and all the facilities emerged into the wild nature . Gramma Bay The mystery of 1500 prayers engraved on the rock of Gulf of Gramat in Vlora! Three variants you can visit The Regional Directorate of National Culture Vlora has published interesting data about the Rock of Grama on the Karaburun peninsula in Vlora, which was declared a first-class culture monument by the Institute of Sciences in 1948. Published information provides guidelines on how to visit this tourist attraction while not missing the photos that were realized by Kriledjan Çipa, reports portal SCAN. Year / time of construction: VI Century Before Christ Description: The Gulf of Grammatas or Gramma (Gulf of Letters ), is located at the foot of the western slope of Karaburun, in an uninhabited area. The Gulf in Antiquity has originally served as one of the largest quarries of Karaburun peninsula, which has been exploited since the 6th century BC. Christ. In this quarry, the faleza has been exploited at an altitude of 130 m and at a width of 100 m. After leaving the quarry, starting in the 15th century. III BC, on the flat sides created by cutting and removing rock blocks, prayer from sailors or travelers sheltering in this bay to escaping storms. This tradition of prayer recording has continued throughout the Middle Ages, but they are already dedicated to Christian worship until the nineteenth century. XIX. The inscriptions are engraved in frames and in the majority of cases are realized with the recording. Most of the ancient Greek inscriptions are addressed to the Diocurts, Castro, and Polus, who are the savior of the seafarers. During the Hellenistic period, absorbsion served as an open sanctuary devoted to these divinities. In these inscriptions there are also the names of historical figures, such as those of Cnaeus Pompeius, the Emperor Byzantine Johann V Paleologus, and Mark Antony. The number of inscriptions is estimated to be around 1500 pieces. Function: It has been ancient quarry and sanctified open, today it is a cultural monument. Itinerary: To go to the Gulf of Grams by land, there are two variantsin both cases without a vehicle, but crossing the paths. Gjipe Canion Traveling along the wild Albanian coast, after visiting tropical looking, white sand beaches at Ksamil, old town Himare and the surrounding seaside, I thought it just couldn’t get better. Then, we went to see the two beaches a few miles north from Himare – Jala and Gjipe, hidden in picturesque coves and surrounded by the spectacular canyon. The color of water was so unusually clear and the scenery so exotic that this spot could easily pass off as tropical heaven. Why is such a place still virtually unknown despite being right in the middle of Europe, is a mystery to me. But it’s a good thing! You can feel as if it’s your own, private paradise. And, if you want to still see it this way, hurry up, as unfortunately there has been some new development around – soon it may become as crowded as Albania’s famous neighbors Butrint Butrint, located in the south of Albania, approximately 20km from the modern city of Saranda. Butrint has a special atmosphere created by a combination of archaeology, monuments and nature in the Mediterranean. With its hinterland it constitutes an exceptional cultural landscape, which has developed organically over many centuries. Butrint has escaped aggressive development of the type that has reduced the heritage value of most historic landscapes in the Mediterranean region. It constitutes a very rare combination of archaeology and nature. The property is a microcosm of Mediterranean history, with occupation dating from 50 000 BC, at its earliest evidence, up to the 19th century AD. Prehistoric sites have been identified within the nucleus of Butrint, the small hill surrounded by the waters of Lake Butrint and Vivari Channel, as well as in its wider territory. From 800 BC until the arrival of the Romans, Butrint was influenced by Greek culture, bearing elements of a “polis” and being settled by Chaonian tribes. In 44 BC Butrint became a Roman colony and expanded considerably on reclaimed marshland, primarily to the south across the Vivari Channel, where an aqueduct was built. In the 5th century AD Butrint became an Episcopal centre; it was fortified and substantial early Christian structures were built. After a period of abandonment, Butrint was reconstructed under Byzantine control in the 9th century. Butrint and its territory came under Angevin and then Venetian control in the 14th century. Several attacks by despots of Epirus and then later by Ottomans led to the strengthening and extension of the defensive works of Butrint. At the beginning of the 19th century, a new fortress was added to the defensive system of Butrint at the mouth of the Vivari Channel. It was built by Ali Pasha, an Albanian Ottoman ruler who controlled Butrint and the area until its final abandonment. Blue eye The Blue Eye is one of the most beautiful sights in Southern Albania and an easy day trip from Saranda. Conveniently, the Blue Eye in Albania, is also right on the way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gjirokastra It’s quite easy to see both the Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter in Albanian language) and Gjirokastra together in a day trip if you are based in Saranda. If you have more time, you can visit them separately as well. Don’t fall for the guided tours telling you it’s too difficult to see The Blue Eye in Albania on your own. With a bit of pluck and planning, you definitely can — and it’s worth every minute. If you’ve done any research into transportation in Albania, you’ve probably bit your nails, questioned your plans to go, and got yourself super deep down a Google rabbit hole. Relax. Traveling in Albania is not nearly as hard as everyone makes it out to be. For one, Albanian people are quite possibly the friendliest people I’ve ever met. On my way to The Blue Eye, everyone was so helpful in pointing me to the right bus that I had absolutely no trouble finding it.