The Azure Window, which has died after a long illness, was to Gozo what the Tower is to Pisa (in more ways than one).
It had the singular honour of appearing at least once on every page of every issue of Air Malta’s in-flight magazine. It served actively and with full honours in the Tired Adjective Regiment, a unit that included a number of famous, iconic, renowned, landmark, gem and breathtaking names in its ranks. It rubbed shoulders with the unfortunately named Fungus Rock, the coastal Inland Sea, a quarry, a shanty town, a car park and several purveyors of fine hot dogs.
Born into a family of Lower Coralline limestone about 30 million years ago, the window was a late starter. For much of its life, the best it could hope for by way of company was nesting sparrows and one or two brave fishermen. It really only came into its own when its ability to make visitors part with their money became clear. A good part of that power was down to nature, which had made it look man-made (like a window, in fact). Rather like sculptural cactus, the Azure Window sat between nature and culture. And, when the signs began to show of the malady that would end its life, people weren’t sure whether to leave it alone, as they might a work of nature, or restore it, as they would a crumbling church.
Above: The Azure Window at the turn of the last century, when it still showed little sign of terminal illness.
Towards the end, it became clear that the thousands of tonnes of hard rock would not withstand the weight of a human body. To as much as tread on the window was made a hanging offence – though not on the spot, which would have defeated the purpose. Astonishingly, when the time did finally come, it was the thousands of tonnes of sea that shuffled it off.
The Azure Window is survived by a heartbroken Prime Minister, four inspired ministers and a sniggering public. Its place on the tentative Eighth Wonder list has been taken by Ta’ Pinu Church.
Mark Anthony Falzon ( via The Sunday Times 12th March, 2017)