Near Delvinë, 20 km from Sarandë, near Muzinë in Vlorë County. Follow Gjirokastra-Kakavija highway SH4, turn off to Delvina, after 7 km turn left on SH99, follow brown sign "tourist attraction" on poorly maintained asphalt road. From Sarandë SH99 to Çlirim, Mesopotam, Bistrica, 6 km after town turn left.
|Dimension:||P=18.4 l/s, VR=50 m, Ø=10 m, A=152 m asl, T=10 °C (water).|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|1996||designated a Natural Monument.|
The Albanian name Syri i kaltër means literally Blue Eye. It is a Vaucluse type karst spring with impressive blue water and a 22 m deep lake. The lake is actually a karst cave which was explored by divers 50 m deep, the actual depth is unknown. As the water is deep blue at the center, where the water is very deep, it becomes electric blue at the shallow edges, and the spring is almost circular, so it looks like a huge pupil and iris of a blue eye. According to legend the spring was named by an engineer in a hydro-power station, who was reminded of the blue eyes of his girlfriend.
From the SH99 Sarande-Gjirokastr road is a turnoff which is signposted. A single lane paved road leads across a dam and around the artificial lake to its inflow. Here the parking lot with souvenir shops is located and a river which flows into the lake. The spring is on the other side of the river and reached across a footbridge a little upstream. Before the lake existed the spring floed into the river, but now both flow into the lake sharing their estuary. A few meters further the road ends at a restaurant and butcher shop, which is also on the other side of the river and reached across a narrow bridge. It seems the place is popular, the restaurant is quite large.
This is a typical karst spring with enormous differences between lowest and highest production. The reason is the short stay of the water underground, so weather events will change the spring production in hours or days. After heavy rains the water becomes murky and brown, when cave sediments from the connected cave system are mobilized by the fast flowing cave river.
The spring with the drinkable water and the impressive colour is a popular tourist spot. The water produces a humid microclimate allowing the growth of oak trees and flowers around the spring. It is also the primary source of water for the river Bistrice, which is only 25 km long and ends in the Ionian Sea south of Sarandë. The catchment area of the spring is the Mali i Gjerë karst massif, located in south Albania on the border to Greece. The geologic unit has an area of 440 km², most of which are on the Albanian side of the border. It is bordered by the Drinos river basin on the east and the Bistrica river basin on the west. And while karst water generally is very fragile concerning pollution, the catchment area of Syri i kaltër is very sparsely populated and thus the water is unpolluted.
A legend tells about the visit of some Italian representatives to Saranda in October 2002, to talk about exploiting the underground water. All of a sudden, the spring was seized by an agony of death, it dried up and turned white resembling a blind eye. It was a warning to protect the blue eye from overexploitation.