Stopping at Porto Palermo has a very special meaning to me. During the communist regime my aunt Bardha Marka Gjoni was brought to the castle as a prisoner and held there for one year. This period was one of the darkest of her life and every time she tried to remember it all she could do was shake her head and close her eyes. She wouldn’t speak much about it only to say that she passed a terrible time inside, and after having visited it I can only imaging what she went through.
The information on this castle that is distributed by the locals is dubious at best. They seem to think that it is a 200 year old castle, but anyone with a bit of knowledge of history can see that it is much, much older. Please follow this link to Wikipedia where you can read a more accurate description of the castle Porto Palermo Castle.
When you are driving toward Saranda you will see the castle on your right, perched up on a little peninsula with a lovely little beach and the clearest of waters. You have to go down a gravel road to get to the parking lot. There you will be greeted by the “castle custodian” who will just hand you a key to the castle for 200lek, if there’s nobody else there, as was the case with us. So off we went up the short hill to enter the castle.
It is amazing at how well kept it is on the inside. Very clean. It actually is a very beautiful structure. As I was walking through I couldn’t help but think about my dear aunt living in these conditions for over a year, what a horrible time that must have been.
All that aside, if you are driving to Saranda you should definitely make this a stop. The location is stunning and it’s a great photo opportunity!