About 1 km north to Butrint, a new road sign tells the way to Ali Pasha’s fort. This is a fort that controlled the entrance into the Vivari Channel. We parked along the road and walked on a path that climbed on top of the hill that controlled the Vivari channel … and after 200 meters, the path ended on a flat summit with some lined stones around! Was that all what remained of Ali Pasha’s fort, I don’t know but that was all we could find. One paper guide says that the fort can only be reached by sea, but then, why the road sign?
Both photos of the Vivari channel were shot 1 km north to Butrint, on the road to Ksamil and Saranda.
The first photo shows the open sea and the swamps that surround the channel. The mouth of the channel is on the far right. In the background, the island of Corfu with Mount Pantokrator, the highest point of the island.
The second photo shows the Butrint sea on the left. In the middle of the photo (a little on the left, behind two poplars), the ferry.
This photo was taken from the Venetian castle on top of the Butrint site.
In the middle left, the dirt road from where we arrived. Konispol is in the far background, on the hills. Vrina village stands in the middle background, on a very low hill, helf hidden by small trees. The team of archeologists from the Butrint foundation that dig in the Butrint site digs also in the plain of Vrina and has discovered a major Augustan colony. It was first conceived by Julius Caesar but actually created following Augustus’s victory at the battle of Actium in 31 BC. These excavations are not open for visits.
The ferry is on the far right of the photo, foreground.
The triangular Venetian fort stands in the foreground, midway between the dirt road and the ferry.
Until you have not seen one of the small concrete, mushroom shaped bunkers from the 50s that dot the country, you do not feel that you are really in Albania! However, they are not considered anymore as military targets that should not be photographed. They have now been completely incorporated into the countryside, as I will show in other places. Here, one of them is a watch tower for a goat!
Just after the Venetian tower, we discovered a truck that was slowly crossing the Vivari channel on a homemade ferry: a dozen of logs arranged on four tanks. Are we going to cross the channel on this organic ferry? I feel we will do it but that also will belong to my new Butrint page, that will soon be released. Let me say anyway that this was the end of the dirt road!
Shortly after Vrina (Vrinë), the road reaches an amazing small triangular fortress. As it would not fit on a Konispol page, I will present it on my Butrint page
The team of archeologists from the Butrint foundation that dig in the Butrint site digs also in the plain of Vrina and has discovered a major Augustan colony. It was first conceived by Julius Caesar but actually created following Augustus’s victory at the battle of Actium in 31 BC. These excavations are not open for visits.
Mursi, is 4.66 km west from Ciflik and 9.31 km west to Vrine (see my map)
Alternates names are Murs, Mursia, Mursie, Mursija, Murth, Murthi, Murzi.
As well as Konispol and Ciflik, Mursi stands outside of the road but while these two villages were built on the slopes of hills, Mursi stands on the other side of a little lake (photo), in the plain.
Just after Ciflik a bridge crosses the Pavllo river. Pavllo river is more a torrent than a river and we made a stop to have a closer look. To our delight, we spotted a dozen of good size trouts swimming in a pool, under a small waterfall. We were not equipped for fishing and moreover did not know anything about the rules prevailing in the country. I will enquire on the subject.
Ciflik is 5.74 km west to Konispol, as the crow flies. Most of the village is outside of the road, as was Konispol. However, I noticed this new, apparently Orthodox church that was not yet finished, standing just by the road. In several other places in the country did we see newly built religious buildings as, since 1991, religion is not forbidden anymore.
Alternates names are Çiflik, Xiflik, Ciflig, Ciflik, Ciflik Tusha, Cifliku, Cifliq, Cifliqi, Fattoria.
We have seen several s flocks of sheep grazing on the hills. This one was especially large and might have between 500 and 1000 animals. If you enlarge the photos, you will see the sheeps as very little white dots. I have made an enlargement on the second photo.
This photo was taken from the same place, at the foot of the Eagle mountain and shows a typical sheep-fold from that region. I have often seen this kind of sheep-fold on the other side of the border, in Greek Epirus and this is not a surprise as Albanian speaking Chams live on both sides of the border. It is made of branches set into the soil and holding a layer of ferns. It is very low but allows the sheep to get shade and freshness, even when it is very hot.
Konispol is given as 4.22 km from Sagiada, as the crow flies but by the road, it is much farther away, about 15 km.
After the border, the road runs in the plain and does not pass in Konispol, a village of 3,500 with houses widely scattered along the slopes of a series of hills, making a kind of amphitheater.
The photo was taken a little further. This lonely hill should be named Eagle Mountain. I have made some research and found that there were at this place some ancient Illyrian ruins, called Çuka e Ajtoit that I have not seen.