Portugal is a country with a rich culture and magnetic nature that attracts tourists from all over the world. On the list of noteworthy places to see is the Odeleite River.

It first became famous in 2015, when a photo of the river, taken from an airplane during a flight between Amsterdam and Marrakech, gained enormous popularity on the Internet, especially among Chinese citizens. It was all due to its shape and color.

Blue Dragon River – location and surroundings

The Odeleite River flows in southern Portugal, in the Algarve region. It is about 148 kilometers long and is part of the Guadiana River system. Its sources are in the Caldeirão Mountains, and it continues to flow in a westerly direction, forming the border between Portugal and Spain for a distance of about 40 kilometers, and eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The riverbed is quite narrow and very winding, forming picturesque meanders. Its waters are relatively shallow due to a varied bottom, and its banks, steep and rocky in mountainous areas, mellow in the valley.

There is a reservoir of the same name on Odeleite, created because of a dam created in the late 1990s. After the reservoir was built, the river took on an unprecedented form. Looking at it from the flight deck, you can see the shape of a dragon. Depending on the volume of water piled up, the picture is drawn more or less clearly. The visibility of the “water dragon” is also affected by the surrounding landscape and dark blue color. The Algarve is a region rich in natural vegetation that thrives under the influence of winds laden with ocean moisture. However, forest policies, a monoculture of pine and eucalyptus trees, and decades of devastating fires are turning this land into a barren wasteland.

Why has Odeleite attracted international attention?

A bird’s-eye view of the river clearly shows the shape of the dragon, with head, neck, back, tail and scales. Near the town of Castro Marim, the river turns sharply to the southwest, forming an arc that resembles the back of a dragon. Odeleite’s shape has earned it the colloquial name “Blue Dragon River” and it is extremely popular.

Since in Chinese mythology the dragon is considered absolutely sacred and is an important symbol of power, strength and luck, it was believed that a photograph of the river could bring this luck. They were eagerly shared by Chinese Internet users, but not only.

Source: satellite image from Google Maps

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