Malta and Gozo bid farewell to our greatest icon, The Azure Window

Azure Window, also known as Tieqa tad-Dwejra to the locals, the limestone arch near Dwejra Bay on Gozo, an island in the Maltese archipelago, was one of the most recognisable locations in Europe.

Sea and rain erosion carved a hole in the cliff over a period of about 500 years. The last 30 years saw a gradual speeding up of the process with the arch widening following the disappearance of a large slab of rock from the left side of the formation in April 2012.

The natural rock formation, which had been on the verge of collapse for months, had increasingly harsher warnings against hikers climbing up it.

Heavy storms in the Mediterranean were the eventual undoing of Malta’s world-famous Azure Window. The a 50-metre high rock arch located in the Dwejra Point cliffs in the far west of Gozo has finally collapsed into the sea.

The Azure Window collapse came as no surprise. Four years ago, a geological survey found that erosion was inevitable and that the arch, which was formed initially by wave action, was in a dangerous condition.

Late last year, the government prohibited people from walking across the arch, making it an offence punishable by a fine of €1,500 (£1,233). The law was not enforced properly howver - visitors were still walking on top of the arch days before it collapsed.

The Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat, called the collapse “heartbreaking” today but the landmark's demise has been expected for some time.

The Azure Window featured in Game of Thrones. It was used as a filming location for the Dothraki wedding scene in the first episode of HBO's TV series Game of Thrones. Daenerys and Drogo were hitched there, and it's the first time we are introduced to Ser Jorah.