The island of Gozo has lost one of its most-iconic landmarks – the fabled Azure Window.
The Azure Window, which was created when two limestone caves collapsed, attracted thousands of tourists over the years, who swarmed to the coastline to photograph the picturesque scene, which saw the famed dive site Blue Hole framed by the magnificent archway behind it.
It was also a major hit with a string of Hollywood movie-makers, who crafted the location into several big-budget blockbusters, and it even cropped up in an episode of Game of Thrones.
However, winter storms had taken their toll on the structure, and large sections of rock were falling with increasing regularity from the archway itself and the surrounding supporting cliffs.
A three-month geological study took place in 2013 on behalf of the Environment Ministry, but while the report noted that a large percentage of the archway had collapsed during the previous 30 years and areas of the sides of the arch were cracked and fractured, according to one of the geologists, many of its recommendations were largely ignored.
Concerns about the Azure Window grew in the last year or so. Walking across the top of the archway was banned and made a fineable offence – as well as the potential damage to the site, it was gaining notoriety as a cliff-jumping destination – and after a three-year hiatus, the government reconvened a steering committee to oversee the site’s management.
Sadly, these fears proved to be well-founded, as a fierce winter storm swept on to the island this morning and the archway finally succumbed, collapsing into the sea. Such was the ferocity of the destruction that the support stack also gave way, forever changing this unforgettable landscape.