The Azure Window

Hi readers,

Today I would like to do a Throwback Thursday tribute post to recognize an event that happened in Malta yesterday.

Some of you may recall from my time in Malta the mention of the Azure Window, a naturally formed limestone arch on the Maltese island of Gozo.  The creation of the arch took place when two sea caves collapsed, leaving a window behind. Hundreds of year of sea and rain erosion weathered away the rock, causing pieces to fall off over time. In 1998 it was added to a list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Malta, along with the rest of Dwerja Bay where the arch is located, and had also been designated as a Special Area of Conservation. 

Following significantly-sized slabs of rock to fall in 2012 and 2013, a geological report was done to determine the stability of the arch, concluding that while erosion and rock falls would continue, it should remain relatively stable for a number of years to come. 

Warning signs and heavy fines were enacted to keep people from climbing and crossing the top of the arch as more fissures continued to appear. However, these rules were poorly enforced. 

On the morning of March 8, 2017, the arch collapsed into the sea during heavy storms. The supporting pillar has also fallen, leaving nothing above the surface of the water. 

To some, probably most of you, this is just a rock and you’re thinking that rock falls happen and what’s the big deal? But to those of you who have seen it, visited Malta, or lived there, then you understand that it is more than just a rock. The Azure Window was not only a major tourist attraction for Gozo, but also a defining feature of the island. Following its collapse, residents from across the island ventured to the site to see it with their own eyes, only to learn that it was as if it had never even been there.

I will admit that on my first visit to the window I did climb to the edge- it was permitted at the top and I only wish stricter rules had been put in place earlier so as to prolong the life of the structure as long as possible. 

As I was in Malta to specifically for environmental studies, I am sad to see it go as it provided a place for people to enjoy the natural environment in a protected area. I am very happy to say that I had the chance to visit multiple times and to bring my family to see it as well. It was a truly beautiful and iconic landmark and a wonderful example of the natural beauty of Malta.

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