This event has been traumatic for the Maltese people. The structure had been weak for a while, but no one thought it would collapse so quickly and so brutally.
This loss could have devastating economic consequences for the archipelago : the Azure Window, the icon of Malta, used to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. As summer is approaching, the Maltese authorities are more and more alarmed : how will they manage the hordes of distraught visitors, searching in vain for the Azure Window ?
In the aftermath of the collapse, a petition was launched to reconstruct an identical arch. The maltese government announced this week that it had decided to complete this ambitious project, with the aim of protecting tourism and alleviating the pain of the population.
The new arch will consist of a titanium frame that will support a reinforced concrete frame. More than 2500 tons of rocks will then be added to this structure.
This project obviously has a cost : 550 million euros, according to the first estimates, financed at 30% by the European Union. The maltese state hopes to reduce this salty bill by imposing a 10€ tax on all visitors to the Blue Lagoon (a crystal clear lagoon located on the small island of Comino) during the 2017 summer season.
The maltese government has called on the technical teams of the “Game of Thrones” series to design the plans for the new Azure Window and oversee its construction. These experts, who can make realistic movie sets, know the site quite well : a few scenes from the first season have been shot in front of the arch.
Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s marriage, Game of Thrones Season 1 Episode 1
Due to the good weather conditions these past few weeks, underwater expeditions have been able to visit the place where the remains of the authentic Azure Window are now resting. Renowned researchers and architects are currently studying the rubble to try and reproduce a copy as faithful to the original as possible.
In order to reduce costs and for greater authenticity, divers are in charge of bringing as many rocks as possible back to the surface. These will be used to rebuild the arch.
If all goes well, this Azure Window 2.0 should be inaugurated in spring 2018. In the meantime, the authorities have set an action plan for the 2017 summer season : two helicopters from the Italian Civil Guard will patrol every day from 9am to 6pm to spot lost and dehydrated visitors in search of the Azure Window. Psychological support will also be provided to assist tourists who have spent all their savings on a trip to Malta for the sole purpose of being photographed in front of the arch, without knowing that it had collapsed into the sea. Despite an extensive communication campaign costing more than 90 million euros to maltese taxpayers, it seems that few Europeans have paid attention to the news, and many visitors remain unfortunately persuaded that the Azure Window still exists.
If you are in a perky mood, you can also (re)read last year’s April Fools.