The mourning of the Geological Wonder, Azure Window
Maltese citizens woke up mourning the loss of arguably the most famous natural landmark in their country after the Azure Window battled against heavy winds and storms of the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday morning. Over the years, the natural limestone arch of the archipelagic nation of Malta has grabbed the attention of people all over the world.
Travellers had purposely visited the iconic landmark with it becoming a common backdrop in many holiday photos, whilst it had also featured in various international films and television series, notably making an appearance in Game of Thrones and Clash of the Titans.
The rock archway of around 28m tall was located close to Dwejra Bay on Gozo Island had been around for about 500 years and was formed by the eventual erosion of a cliff face. The Maltese hotspot was not just popular with tourists, it was hugely admired by the residents of the island too. Whilst some people opted for a relaxing boat ride to take a glimpse of the spectacular view of the towering rock and its natural surroundings, it gave the more daring tourists the opportunity of cliff jumping with the precarious structure favouring this activity.
Although authorities made walking over it and diving from it a punishable offence in an attempt to preserve the landmark, it was never really a measure that was strictly enforced with people noticed jumping from it only days before the structure crumbled into the sea.
In the last decade or so, there have been contrasting reports published about the stability of the arch with some geologists in 2013 claiming that there were no signs of an imminent collapse in the near future, whilst others stressed that the arch was in fact in a ‘dangerous condition’. They added that it was inevitable that the arch would eventually vanish from the Dwejra Point cliffs and be claimed by the Mediterranean Sea.
Sadly, the collapse of the well-renowned arch occurred this week and left no trace of its existence, with even the stacks at the side of the arch giving way to the raging waves. As the news broke, hundreds of Gozo islanders returned to the coast in memory of the cherished landmark, whilst tourists around the world shared snaps of the iconic rock formation in testimony.
Despite an obvious sense of sadness felt up and down the country with the Maltese president, Joseph Muscat, describing the collapse as ‘heartbreaking’, the nation remains confident that the tourism industry will not be hampered by the loss. The archipelagic country has much more to offer with unrivalled natural beauty and intriguing historical sites so without doubt, it will continue to attract millions of tourists every year. The limestone arch is now an iconic geological wonder that lives in the past, paving the way for other impressive sites to take the limelight in Malta.