It’s a sad day for anyone who, like us, appreciates our islands’ national treasures. As many of you have heard, Gozo's emblematic Azure Window collapsed earlier this morning. Initially, the news was met with a barrage of distrust, where many asked whether it was a hoax or some Fake News clickbait.
Doubts were eventually clarified, once Prime Minister Joseph Muscat expressed his sadness via Twitter. That said, Muscat also raised a valid point, stating that the fate of this historic gem were inevitable sooner or later:
“Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion. That sad day arrived.” – Joseph Muscat
The natural rock foundation, which had been on the threshold of collapse for months, had progressively stricter cautions against trekkers climbing up it. The archetypical sight was graced the presence of in countless huge worldwide productions. The Azure Window, a limestone natural arch, was formed after two limestone sea caves collapsed. It was by far one of the Maltese islands' most distinctive sites, charming thousands of tourists annually.
This crumbling rock formation had withstood nature and human impact, for numerous years. Last January, rough seas had exposed the brittleness of the iconic site, with waves breaking off a large slab at the foundation of one of its cliffs. Years back, a three-month geological study issued in 2013 had revealed that while erosion was inevitable, the structure was not in impending hazard of collapsing. Nevertheless, at the time, geologists claimed that the Azure Window was expected to survive for "decades" to come.
Yet anxieties about its long-term fate increased over the past year, and a steering committee tasked with overseeing the site's management was recomposed after a three-year hiatus. The government had also made walking across the arch a fineable felony - but enforcement was absent.
The Azure Window is a popular visitor destination at Dwejra, where the surrounding waters are prevalent for swimming, scuba diving, and boating. Recently, the arch had gained notoriety for the illegal cliff-diving, as evidenced by many videos on YouTube feature people soaring from the middle and side of the arch.
The arch was immortalised in several films, was disintegrating because large pieces of rock had begun to fall from the underside of the arch. Perhaps one of the most celebrated features was in that of HBO’s famous series Game Of Thrones, where it served as the milieu for Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding. The was by far one of the most beautiful sites on the island appreciated by tourists and locals, alike. Globally, the Azure Window was also the focal point for many touristic promotions, from travel adverts, to photoshoots.
Claimed by nature and the passage of time, Gozo’s iconic Azure Window has been lost forever, but never forgotten.