Yes, the Malta Azure Window on Gozo is lost to the sea forever! However, there is another epic natural arch on the island called the Wied il-Mielaħ window. Find out everything you need to know about visiting in this hidden gem travel guide.
Planning your visit to the Maltese Islands but devastated about the collapse of the Azure Window?
Well, I have an alternative for you! Discover the epic Wied il Mielah arch, another stunning rock formation over the Mediterranean Sea on Gozo Island, Malta.
In this detailed guide, I’ll outline everything you need to know about both arches, including details on how to reach Wied il-Mielah, as well as recommending some alternative attractions in Dwejra Bay.
- About the Former Azure Window in Malta
- The Azure Window Collapse
- Scuba Diving at the Remains of the Azure Window on Gozo
- Alternative: Visit the Wied Il Mielah Window on Gozo
- How to Get to the Wied Il Mielah Arch
- What to Expect at Wied Il Mielah
- Rock Climbing on Wied Il Mielah
- Where to Stay On Gozo
- More Epic Adventures on Gozo and the Maltese Islands
About the Former Azure Window in Malta
The former Azure Window (Tieqa tad-Dwejra) was a natural wonder and flagship of the Gozitan touristic sites which once stood proud in the Mediterranean Sea on Gozo's west coast (Dwejra Bay).
This arch was incredibly beautiful and represented years of Maltese history as Malta's most famous landmark. It made the perfect subject for epic landscape photographs of Malta's unique limestone coast. In fact, its beauty was recognized worldwide as it made several appearances in TV shows and feature films. These included HBO's Game of Thrones series (The Khaleesi and Khal Drogo wedding scene), the finale of the 1981 Clash of the Titans epic, and the famous Count of Monte Cristo.
However, after years of unavoidable natural erosion from big waves and strong gale-force winds, this iconic natural phenomenon was lost to the sea.
Yes, it was a sad day for the Maltese and tourists alike. However, make sure to read on to reveal the next Azure Window - Wied il-Mielah!
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The Azure Window Collapse
According to the Times of Malta, the Azure Window collapsed into the Mediterranean Sea on the morning of March 8, 2017.
“There was a big raging sea beneath the window,” “Suddenly, the arch collapsed into the sea with a loud whoomph, throwing up a huge spray. By the time the spray had faded, the stack had gone too.” - Xaghra resident Roger Chessell, a witness of the collapse.
This happened early in the morning during a massive storm and very few witnesses were there to tell the tale.
How Did the Natural Arch Collapse?
For roughly 5 years following the incident, the people of Malta were left wondering how this tragic event had occurred.
However, in 2022, Professor Joseph Caruana and John Wood published the results of a lengthy, 3-year investigation into the event. They revealed that the very same erosional weathering that formed the Azure Window was also what eventually led to its collapse.
They concluded in their report stating that the base of the main pillar had been eroding for quite some time during heavy storms. As a result, Malta's Azure Window was in imminent danger of collapsing for quite some time.
So, it was the unavoidable natural corrosion that slowly weathered away the Azure Window's structural resistance. Finally, the big raging sea and howling winds of March 8, 2017 was enough to finally send the window to the bottom of the sea.
Fortunately, it seems that the nearby Wied il Mielah window has a much thicker base and is more protected on the coast.
Is There an Azure Window Collapse Video Clip?
No, the tragic Azure Window collapse occurred during a big storm very early in the morning. There were very few witnesses and none were able to record a video of the collapse.
Are there Plans to Rebuild the Iconic Arch?
This might seem like a very strange question.
However, in fact, there are plans to rebuild the Azure Window.
The truth is, this amazing arch was the heart of the small island nation and meant quite a great deal to its people.
Now, the Heart of Malta project headed by Russian architect Svetozar Andreev is planning to rebuild the structure using reflective stainless steel. Below is a rendered image of what it may look like if the project goes ahead.
Scuba Diving at the Remains of the Azure Window on Gozo
While the Azure Window may be gone, there's still plenty of reason to visit Dwejra Bay, where it once stood.
Scuba divers will especially like the Gozo Blue Hole, where you can swim through an epic underwater natural arch and around the bend to the rocky remains where the original limestone arch once stood proud.
Alternative: Visit the Wied Il Mielah Window on Gozo
Located less than 5 kilometers from the former Azure Window is perhaps Gozo's best-kept secret– as far as coastal rock formations go!
Written Wied il-Mielaħ in the native alphabet, or it-Tieqa ta' Wied il-Mielaħ in Maltese, this incredible limestone natural arch is located at the end of the valley with the same name, near the hamlet of Għarb.
This natural landmark, while admittedly not as spectacular as the original Azure Window, is still a very picturesque scene. You'll find it wrapped around a small bend on the coast, standing tall above the turquoise-blue, crystal-clear waters of the open sea.
The way down this valley is a little off-the-beaten path, but it's certainly worth the effort, especially if you are a rock climber or photographer!
How to Get to the Wied Il Mielah Arch
Below are the two best options for getting to the Wied il Mielah Arch on Gozo Island, Malta.
From Malta: Off-The-Beaten Path Quad Tour
For those staying at the popular tourist hubs of the main island, the easiest and most epic way to explore Gozo is on a Quad Bike day trip!
Additionally, the trip includes a private boat tour of the epic Comino Caves and the famous Blue Lagoon.
Already on Gozo? Directions to the Natural Arch
If you're already on the island, then the best option is to simply rent a car or quad bike! There are a couple of rental offices on Gozo, but I recommend comparing prices on DiscoverCars before booking.
For those on Malta with their own rental car, you can also take the reliable Gozo Channel Ferry and drive from there.
You'll want to head to the pin below, following the scenic valley route past the famous Ta'Pinu chapel. Finally, you'll head down an unsealed road. Continue down this road, crossing a small bridge until you reach a large clearing where you can park your car.
The Wied il Mielah natural window arch is just a short walk to the right from here (facing the sea).
What to Expect at Wied Il Mielah
Once you arrive, you'll walk around from the clearing to a set of limestone steps leading to the base of the Wied il Mielah Window. As you'll notice, there is a stainless steel rail down these steps which is badly damaged– a testament to just how wild the seas off the coast of Gozo can get during the Winter!
On a calm day, however, these steps provide access to the sea, where confident scuba divers and free divers can explore the underwater segments of this arch.
We came here to do some rock climbing (more on this below). Afterward, we spent a couple of hours here waiting for a beautiful sunset to capture some images.
However, we still enjoyed a great afternoon relaxing and unwinding beside this beautiful natural arch, with no other tourists in sight! We also managed to spot some ancient fossils embedded into the hard limestone rock, which must have come from an ancient time when this arch was underwater!
Rock Climbing on Wied Il Mielah
We organized an afternoon of climbing and abseiling with Gozo Adventures which was super fun! This site is famous in Malta and even within the greater European climbing community for awesome Deep-water solo routes and challenging overhangs crags on the arch itself.
Below are a couple of photos that we captured from our rock-climbing adventures at Wied il-Mielah!
Where to Stay On Gozo
Due to its small size and well-connected network of buses and roads, choosing the ideal location to stay in Gozo is less crucial than on the main island of Malta.
However, if you ask, locals will always tell you that to get the complete Gozitan experience, what's more important is picking a traditional boutique hotel over a luxury resort or modern hotel. You'll find many boutique hotels in Gozo dotted all over the island, from Nadur to Xlendi. Below are the 3 top picks.
- Quaint Boutique Hotel - Nadur
Accommodation on Malta’s quieter sister island should reflect its more peaceful and traditional ambiance. This beautifully renovated boutique hotel is situated directly beside the Nadur Parish Church, with spacious balcony terraces looking over the town square.
- Viewpoint Boutique Living - Xlendi
This family-run boutique hotel dates back 300 years and is situated on a beautiful cliff overlooking the Xlendi Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. The location is ideal for couples looking to get away, with convenient access to the beach and just a short 2 km drive to the Citadella.
- Kempinski Hotel - San Lawrenz
For travelers preferring modern, 5-star luxury, the Kempinski Hotel is your best bet. This amazing hotel is located in San Lawrenz, on a 30,000m² tropical oasis. An excellent choice for larger groups and families as there are self-catering apartment options as well!
More Epic Adventures on Gozo and the Maltese Islands
Did you enjoy this guide to the epic Wied il-Mielaħ window on Gozo Island? While the tragic loss of the Malta Azure Window is heartbreaking, there are many more epic natural rock formations and geological features to discover on the Maltese Islands.
Below is a useful list of more travel ideas for Malta based on my adventures in the archipelago. Heading to the beach? Make sure to read my guide to the best beaches in Malta!