The inevitable just happened: nature has taken away what it created a long time ago. All parts of the world famous Azure Window in Malta are now gone — even its base was swept away by the sea.
I had seen the local weather forecast and planned to captured some images of the Azure Window with the rough sea, so I went to Dwejra on the evening of March 7th after going around Gozo shooting the storm. The wind and sea were so strong that I couldn’t get as close as I’m used to. Even shooting with a DSLR was impossible in those conditions.
I always carry a GoPro with me, and mounted on a tripod, it was the right tool to use in those extreme conditions. The winds were so strong that Tuesday evening that I had to put my weight on the tripod and push it forward to keep it stable, not to lose balance and be knocked backwards by the wind.
The Day it Collapsed
The following day, the 8th of March, had to be a full stormy day, so I planned to go back to the Azure Window that morning to take some more pictures and videos. I was not in a hurry as I was more interested in the afternoon light, but still wanted to go there early to scout around for different angles. Little did I know what was awaiting me there. The first thing I did when I arrived was to walk up to the Dwejra Tower so that I could have a view of the complete shoreline with the inland sea.
I was already feeling that there was something odd. I could not see the window from the Dwejra Tower, but I wasn’t sure if I should be able to see it as I’d never shot from this angle before. Then I noticed a police patrol coming down the hill, along with some private cars. My first thought was that someone might have been in trouble, been swept away by the sea. Then more and more cars came down, with people walking out to the only safe viewpoint. I could also start spotting news crews with their big tripods and cameras, so I made my way down to see what was happening. People were making phone calls with tears in their eyes. Without asking anyone, a chill went down my spine… is it possible? Had the window collapsed?
I walked out to the spot where I was shooting the day before and s**t! The Window was not there anymore! I got a bit lost, not knowing what to do, like when you receive terrible news and you go into shock for a couple of moments. Then I took out my DSLR and snapped a couple of shots before the lens fogged up with sea spray. I opened my tripod and shot some more video.
The Last Videos of the Azure Window?
Comments from friends and page followers on Facebook made me realise that these might be the last videos of the Azure Window standing. That somehow, without knowing, I managed to record history.
I decided to share with you the full video clips, to treasure every moment. These are just a few minutes of the 2 days of gale force winds and clashing waves that the window endured before it collapsed early yesterday morning. These videos say goodbye to our lost icon, battling the wind and waves as night falls.
It’s just a rock, you might say, but try to explain this to the people of Gozo and Malta, and to all those who, like me, have developed an emotional connection with it. A limb was severed off the Dwejra landscape yesterday and I felt like I’d lost an old friend which I’d got used to visit over and over again.
My Best Photos of the Azure Window
As a landscape photographer, I’ve been shooting this world famous natural landmark countless times over the past years. My most popular images are my astro landscape photography of the arch, with Perseids meteor showers, star trails and The Milky Way. I’m so honored that I at least managed to capture it under the full glory of the infinite night sky.
About the author: Gilbert Vancell is a landscape photographer based in Malta. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and YouTube. This article was also published here.