WHY IS IT SPECIAL?
The Azure Window is one of the most iconic vistas of the Maltese Islands. Photographed and filmed by almost every visitor to Gozo, and featured on thousands of guidebooks, brochures and websites around the world, this natural arch is perhaps the most recognisable view of the Maltese Archipelago.
In addition to appearing on countless home movies and smartphone videos, ‘It-Tieqa' as it is known in Maltese, has featured as a backdrop on many productions, from Hollywood blockbusters to epic TV series, including Clash of the Titans, The Odyssey, Game of Thrones and more.
MORE TO SEE, MORE TO PROTECT
The area where the Window is located is called Dwejra. Apart from the Azure Window itself, the area also includes the Inland Sea and Fungus Rock. It has been designated a Natura 2000 special area of conservation and is in the process of being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Azure Window's location, right at the edge of the Dwejra cliffs, gives it a unique dramatic setting, but also leaves it totally exposed to the elements. This is particularly true in winter, when the rough sea beats upon it violently and incessantly. The same waves which carved the window out of the living rock over thousands of years, continue to eat away at the structure. This continuous process of erosion will one day cause the slender horizontal bridge to collapse. Even if the rock seems solid, stable and strong, it is fighting a losing battle against the powerful forces of the sea.
Although the risk does not appear to be imminent, and no one can predict with any degree of certainty when such a collapse will take place, it is not a matter of if but when. Meanwhile, pieces of rock are continuously falling from the Azure Window into the sea below. Some are the size of a peanut, or smaller. Others are considerably larger and can cause serious damage or physical injury...
Caution and common sense are therefore recommended.
WHAT ABOUT THE TOURISTS?
For decades, we have been promoting this site as a tourist attraction...and rightly so. Being one of the most majestic sights on the island, we made sure people out there got to know about it. Our marketing played a part in placing this landmark on many a traveller's wish list. Word of mouth, and more recently the Internet, did the rest.
As a result, visitors came, and continue to come, in their thousands...
Almost every visitor to the site feels compelled to walk across the natural bridge, perhaps to see the view from the other side, or just because others are doing it, or to take an ‘I Was There' souvenir photo.
ONE SMALL STEP...
Apart from the inherent risk of injury, especially in the presence of strong winds, this practice is not doing the Window any good. The erosion caused by one person walking over the rocks may be infinitely small. But this simple action, multiplied by hundreds of thousands of times in a year, and millions of times over a longer period has left a mark on the fragile surface.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Not everyone agrees on what can and should be done to safeguard the Azure Window. Some believe that collapse is inevitable whilst others claim that it's not too late. Most would agree, however, that something can be done to slow down the process of deterioration that is affecting this natural wonder. Even if the outcome will eventually be the same, prolonging the Azure Window's life by a day, a month or a year is worth the effort. For this purpose, a special committee with representatives from various fields has been appointed to examine all options and draw up an action plan.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Everyone agrees that The Azure Window should be protected and safeguarded, in the hope that like us, future generations will continue to enjoy its extraordinary beauty for many years to come.
We all share in this responsibility. Whether we live in Malta or Gozo all year round, or are just passing through, we should respect the Window, care for it and help lengthen its life as much as we can.
YOU TOO WILL BE DOING YOUR PART IF YOU...
• Don't climb and walk on the Azure Window.
• Don't swim beneath the arch.
• Don't abseil down or ascend up the rock pillars.
• Don't use any boat, canoe, jetski or other craft close to the Window.
• Don't jump or dive from the rocks into the sea.
ON THE OTHER HAND...
• Take photos and videos of the Azure Window from a safe distance and share them widely.
• Visit the Dwejra Appreciation Centre and learn more about the area.
• Keep the site clean and free of litter.
• Respect the plants, the birds, the animals and the terrain in the area.
• Enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
Together we can help safeguard the Azure Window.
||Accessing the Azure Window
Government Notice No. 1346 of 2016 and Local Notice to Mariners No. 67 of 2016.
"Due to falling rocks from the Azure Window, its environmental importance and need of conservation, it is prohibited to access, walk, abseil, climb or jump off the Azure Window. Access to the marine area immediately beneath the Azure Window is also prohibited. Fines apply for persons trespassing the prohibited areas.
Observations of any illegality should be immediately reported to the Police on 21562040 or ERA on 22923500 or 99381811 (after office hours).
YOUR OPINION MATTERS
Tell us what you think. We are not looking for a magic wand that makes all problems go away (although if you happen to have one, we'll borrow it). But if you have comments or suggestions on what can be done to make Dwejra better, safer and more accessible, please send them to: INFO@VISITMALTA.COM
© 2016 - This text appears in a leaflet produced by the Malta Tourism Authority in collaboration with the Dwejra Steering Committee, Nature Trust Malta and the Gozo Tourism Association.