You may know Malta’s Azure Window as the backdrop of Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding to Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones and scenes from Gladiator, but now buzz is arising for a different reason.
On Wednesday, March 8th, due to heavy winds and a tumultuous storm, the limestone landmark collapsed into the sea. In an attempt to protect this natural piece of art, the government established the Azure Window of Malta a no-zone for curious rock climbers in an attempt to prevent erosion, punishable by a fine of €1,500. As it turns out, it was not humans who caused the rock formation to crumble into the sea, but mother nature.
“There was a big raging sea beneath the window,” Xaghra resident Roger Chessell, who took pictures during the storm, told the Times of Malta. “Suddenly, the arch collapsed into the sea with a loud whoomph, throwing up a huge spray. By the time the spray had faded, the stack had gone too.” To many of the inhabitants of Malta, this felt to them like a loss of a piece of their identity.
Composed of two layers, upper Coralline limestone and Blue Clay Limestone, a softer, more erodible rock, it was inevitable that the weathered-down window would fall victim to a hard hit by nature. The question is, will Gozo’s tourism industry take a similarly large hit due to the loss of one of its most photographed features? Minister Anton Refalo has stressed that the island has much more to offer apart from the Azure Window. At the least, the memories will remain in the thousands of photos taken at the site.
Photo by Martin Lopatka, CC BY-SA 2.0
Amanda Allbee is a travel intern for Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.