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As soon as you take the very first steps in some particular cities, you become immediately certain, from the very first breath of air, the first smell of a body of water nearby, and the first sight of its beauty, that these cities must have inspired great poetry. Such is the case of Pogradec, the city of artists! Indeed, it is an ideal place for the romantic soul who seeks and relishes nature’s peace and quiet. One of Albania’s most revered national poets, Lasgush Poradeci, sang to Lake Ohrid in much of his poetry: “Upon the road of autumn’s forrest, Sleeps the endless lake”. Similar to the famous Romantics, Wordsworth, Byron and Keats, Poradeci’s verse was inspired and sustained by the great beauty that surrounded him. He never left Pogradec and, in turn, Pogradec never left him.
The city of Pogradec lies on the west shore of Lake Ohrid, the heart and soul of the city. Poradeci was not the only one who knew the value of the lake as, in 1980, UNESCO proclaimed it a Natural Heritage Site. Ohrid is the deepest (285 m) lake in the Balkans, split between Macedonia (in Ohrid and Struga) and Albania. It took around 4 million years for this lake to take its present shape, from the moment that the soil began to shift on the western side of the Dinaric Alps. Now, it is a veritable, picture-perfect swan lake as well as an ecosystem that includes over 200 species, a national treasure.
With an extraordinary 300 sunny days per year and ideal summer weather, Pogradec is the destination of thousands of Albanian and foreign tourists. While there’s a multitude of gastronomic traditions, the world-famous delicacy in Pogradec is a golden-skinned, salmon-colored fish called Koran, found only in Lake Ohrid. Any waiter will tell you the famous story, according to which, Koran even traveled to Buckingham Palace at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, who became such a fan of this unique fish that she had it shipped there!
Let’s not forget that the Albanian trifecta includes not only beauty and delicious foods but history, as well. Not to be missed here is the Castle of Pogradec, as its ruins retain the six-thousand year long history of the city and the Illyrian tribes of the Encheleans and Dassareti which settled it. Near the city, the popular destinations of Drilon, Tushemisht and Lin, reserve even more natural beauty, delicious foods, and historical and cultural surprises.
As you walk along the beautiful parks along the lake under the stars of a magical Pogradec night, the poet in you will be awakened. You may even recall these verses from the poet:
Veiled in darkness, ‘neath the mountain
the city softly fades
while one by one the stars all brighten
in beauty and a gentle pace.