Azure Window: A Natural Wonder Lost

Azure Window Gozo 1970

The Azure Window way back in the 1970s

The Azure Window (Maltese: Tieqa tad-Dwejra or Tieqa Zerqa) was a limestone natural arch on the Maltese island of Gozo. It was situated near Dwejra Bay on the Inland Sea. The formation, which was created after two limestone sea caves collapsed, was a very popular site amongst scuba divers.

azure window 2017

The current site of the former Azure Window

In March 2017, the arch collapsed after a heavy storm. The natural monument was considered as the most known landmark in the Republic of Malta. The collapse of the window was expected and the incident was a consequence of the weakening of the pillar. The Azure Window was made of a Maltese limestone known as Globigerina Limestone which is the second oldest rock found on the islands covering almost 70% of its area. The rock, which is subject to erosion, gives Malta its distinctive coast and interior. Thickness of the limestone ranges from 23 m (75 ft) near Fort Chambray on Gozo up to 207 m (679 ft) around Marsaxlokk on Malta. The 28 m (92 ft) high arch consists of yellow to pale-grey limestone comprising the remains of the marine organism globigerinid foraminifera. The arch had been disintegrating as evidenced by large pieces of rock which had begun to fall from the underside of the arch. The rate of collapse had suggested that the arch would completely disintegrate within a few years. Its dangerous condition led to warning notices being placed along the cliffs to stop people walking over the top of the arch.

In April 2012 a large chunk of rock was dislocated and resulted in the opening of the window being made larger but also more unstable. It also had resulted in a reduction of its previously nearly perfect oblong shape. The window fully collapsed on 8 March 2017 after pillar collapsed, pulling the arch top with it. Following the collapse, only a stub of what used to be part of the stack that supported the roof of the window was left.

If you are planning your next holiday to Malta please feel free to contact the Concierge Team at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta who will surely guide you and suggest some great places to visit during your stay.

Photos credit: Bay Retro & Joseph Caruana

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