Another of the world’s natural icons has bitten the dust.
This one, the Azure Window, on the island of Gozo in Malta, collapsed after heavy storms and raging seas battered the Maltese archipelago last week. The feature, known as Tieqa tad-Dwejra in the Mediterranean island nation, had become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with a number of boat tours from Dwerja Bay incorporating the spot into their itineraries.
The limestone arch was a popular cliff-jumping site that was featured in a variety of Hollywood projects, including the 1981 movie, Clash of the Titans, and the first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
According to the Telegraph, a U.K.-based newspaper and website, news of the icon’s collapse drew public condolences and somber Tweets from a variety of high-profile Maltese officials, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil, the country’s opposition leader.
Government officials reportedly had conducted a number of tests on the rock formation in recent years and learned that while erosion was inevitable, the archway had no major structural issues. Even so, the Maltese government in 2016 made it illegal to walk across the Window, establishing a fine of €1,500 for those who did.
Interestingly, the arch itself wasn’t the only part of the structure to collapse: the support stacks on either side of the feature appear to have crumbled into the sea, as well.
The Azure Window isn’t the first natural icon around the world to collapse in recent months; in January, another weather event brought down a famous sequoia tree in California’s Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The tree, nicknamed the “Pioneer Cabin Tree,” had a tunnel carved into its base. Over the years, everything from horses to cars had passed through it. In recent years, only hikers were allowed through.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.