The Most Important Maltese Tourist Site That Doesn’t Exist

The Most Important Maltese Tourist Site That Doesn’t Exist

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Behind me used to stand one of the most
important rocks on the entire planet. The Azure Window. The number one tourist site in all of Gozo. But as you can clearly see,
it doesn’t stand there anymore. And some people are having a really
hard time coming to terms with that. In March of 2017, the most popular and highest
rated tourist attraction on the island of Gozo collapsed into the sea. It was a long time coming as well. Nature is nature and after all, and it was
only rocks collapsing into the sea that originally made this thing in the first place. They called it the Azure Window. And it was a limestone pillar
sticking up out of the Mediterranean with this flat table rock
going across back to land. The arch that it made was lovely,
but really the best part I think was that people were able to walk about 20 metres
offshore and look back at the cliffs. In effect, it was a really
beautiful place to be. Hundreds if not thousands of tourists
per day streamed across its back. It drew more people than any other
single location on the island. There are millions of photos of tourists
posing with this rock. For the local people, the loss of the window
hit more than just their wallets, this cliff was a part of the Maltese identity. Especially to the people of Gozo,
this was like Notre Dame burning to dust. This was their one universally known,
internationally-recognized landmark. Hollywood movies were filmed here. Game of Thrones was filmed here. It put Gozo on the map. And when it fell into the sea, it was
more than just national news. The prime minister even said
that it broke his heart. But oddly enough, it’s not even the rock
that originally made this coastline famous. That’s the Fungus Rock which
we’ll cover in another episode. It isn’t even actually
the original Azure Window. The real Azure Window is
the mouth of the cave nearby. It’s a large enough crack in the wall
that you can take a ship through it, but small enough that it still kind of feels
adventurous to do so. The light as you exit that tunnel became
known as the azure window, and a few generations later
when the cliff fell away nearby and created that arch,
people just reapplied the name. But original or not, it was
an incredible tourist draw. A beautiful, easy to obtain photo with enough
nearby that you could waste a full afternoon. And the more tourists that came, the more
it got pitched as the thing to see. Pretty much everyone who has ever come to
visit this island has been to visit that window. So I want to look at what’s
happened since it collapsed. Because to me it says a lot about
how we deal with loss. In my eyes, the collapse of the Azure Window
is a bit like if the Louvre lost the Mona Lisa. Certainly, it’s what everybody
there is going to see. But is it really the best thing there? Is it truly surviving on its own merits or is it just
that the infrastructure pushes you that way? That’s what the brochures say, that’s where
the buses go, that’s where the crowds are. It’s the easiest and cheapest photo to take
that you know your friends at home will recognize. But is it really about the Mona Lisa? So, naturally, after it collapsed it took
a while for people to catch on that it was no longer there. Even two years later there are plenty of tour
agencies promoting photos of the Azure Window. Virtually every website you read
about Gozo recommends it. There are still tourists arriving here daily prepared to
find something that simply doesn’t exist. And what I find interesting is that a lot
of them are leaving one star reviews. Which is a bit funny. Because there is no
Azure Window to review. It’s like attending a funeral only to complain
about the deceased being dead. It just makes no sense. And what’s more, if you were actually
reviewing what was here, it’s definitely better than one star. This is likely the best scuba diving
in the entire Mediterranean, it has a wicked cool cave and
absolutely gorgeous scenery. If this is your idea of a one star,
never go to Moncton, New Brunswick. But of course they’re not actually
reacting to what’s there. They’re reacting to what isn’t. And not every reaction to loss
is the same, of course. Some are less willing to accept
defeat than others. They came here expecting an arch,
and they’re going to get one. Even if it honestly wasn’t even
why they came in the first place. And it’s not like an alternative
isn’t readily available. Since the dawn of the Azure Window, there has
always been a second, equally impressive arch. It’s just that people don’t come here. It isn’t part of the infrastructure. Even though it’s a fifteen minute drive from
the now collapsed Azure Window, you’ll only see a trickle of people arriving. Because this doesn’t have anything for the kids, it
doesn’t have any way to spend the rest of the afternoon. It’s just beautiful. And you’ll find the people that are coming
here are rarely coming here for the beauty. They’re coming to fill a void. If there had never been an Azure Window, I suspect
very few tourists would be coming here today. As beautiful as it is, people tend to go
where they’re told is beautiful. But once certain people were promised a window
that didn’t exist, they had to fill that void. And within two years the Azure Window’s
replacement has gone from a handful of reviews to nearly a hundred. The trickle is starting, and chances are
it will eventually become a flood. It’s a bit like when my uncle’s wife died
and he married a woman who looked really similar and had the same name. There’s clearly something
deeper going on there. And the last group I want to focus on are
those who refuse to accept the loss. They want to build a monument
where the rock once stood. Throw money at the problem and hope
it will make it all okay again. They’ve suggested everything from building
a metal-hulled museum to a projected hologram, returning the rock to its original place through
either modern architecture or technology. Essentially the Tupac Shakur of sea arches. It will never happen, of course, and even
if it did it wouldn’t really please anybody. It’s just a vocalization of sadness
being presented as hope. Another form of coping. If we grieve in stages, then let
this be acceptance. The window is gone. Death will always be a part of life. But it will also always be a
very bitter pill to swallow. When we’re forced into a situation of loss,
we all have our varying ways of dealing with it. Some get angry, and lash out. Others move on and try to fill the void
with a surrogate they’ll never truly love. Some simply refuse to accept it as final. None is more human than the last. The Azure Window still lives. Sure, it hasn’t existed in reality
for over two years, but there are still thousands of tourists
coming to see it every week. It exists in our minds. In the infrastructure. It’s a memory that we are just
not letting go of. And that’s the reality of loss. We may live in a beautiful world,
but we’re never going to see it until we put down that brochure. This is Rare Earth. If I fall from here, I want you to tell my wife
to marry someone worse.

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100 Comments

  1. 6:02 "others move on and try to fill the void with surrogate they will never truly love" … shit, that hit me hard after being dumped by a girl that was never able to get over her ex.

  2. I like how your commentary touches all basis and thoughts both positive and negative. As we all see things differently, I am able to relate to you main point is that there is beauty in Gozo without the hoopla.
    Also definitely daddy has mommy problems. LMAO! Thank you, what a beautiful earth!

  3. "People tend to go where they're told is beautiful" pretty much describes your own effect with the Easter Island rock and the ancient temple in the hotel. Haha. Indeed People will even go where told it's not really much, but just about as important as anything else. Heh. Great vid.
    PS: Maybe people just tend to go where they're told.

  4. I was disappointed to hear it disappeared. Imo they should get the GoT prequel to film at the new new azure window and rename that too. Move the name again, move the attractions. Adapt or perish right…

  5. I am from Moncton and I feel personally attacked. I live in Sackville now. You should do a video at Fort Beausejour! Touch on its history and how it ties to the Acadian Deportation.

  6. I visited the Azul Window (and even took a couple pics in front of it) in February, just a month before it collapsed. Seeing just… not there in this vid is a mindfuck bro

  7. I visited the Azul Window (and even took a couple pics in front of it) in February, just a month before it collapsed. Seeing just… not there in this vid is a mindfuck bro

  8. I visited the Azure Window (and even took a couple pics in front of it) in February, just a month before it collapsed. Seeing just… not there in this vid is a mindfuck bro

  9. You miss the point. Tourists are not "reacting to what's not there" — they're reacting to being lied to by promoters who said (or implied) it would be. That's a justified complaint.

  10. I like General Melchett's (from Blackadder) way of dealing with loss: cry a lot and then say "oh well can't be helped" and just move on like nothing's happened

  11. I swear I only go to moncton to pick up my medical marijuana prescription since the nearest one in Nova Scotia's 2 hours away. And yes, it's awful.

  12. The brochure is another person’s already paved path of adventure. Say fuck it to that and just go explore by yourself. It’s more fun and genuine that way

  13. i remember when i heard about it. i didn't care since i'd never been there but now i'm upset so thanks for reminding me. also cool shirt.

  14. Definitely reminded me of the “most photographed barn in the world” from White Noise, where any significance of the actual thing has been lost to the fanfare surrounding it

  15. Coming soon to Malta: Augmented reality tours with AR glasses showing you the window like if it never collapsed…

  16. Me and my partner were traveling across America and stopped at a hotel in Twin Falls Idaho, later that day after a few drinks, we went for a walk and discovered the Twin Falls canyon and watched the sunset. We believed we stumbled upon it, we had no inclination to go or had any plans to actually to see anything the area had. We felt it was a surprise to experience such beauty. But now that I think of it, the town most certainly designed it so tourists are unconsciously guided toward the canyon at every possibility. We actually were looking for potatoes, but all we ever found were corn fields and a river at the bottom of a 100 ft deep canyon. 3 Stars

  17. Well, the Maltese government could have reinforced it with a construction tucked inside the arch before it fell down so that it would have lasted much longer.
    The point is, once you have a tourist attraction you should try to keep it available, it is money for the local people. The notion that we are should not interfere with "nature" is silly … we interfere with it a lot at least we should try and keep safe some of its beautiful parts.

  18. The whole time I couldnt help but notice him standing on a jagged peice of rock on the edge of the cliff while explaining how a huge chunk of it recently collapsed into the ocean…

  19. And to the left is where we dispose of the bodies, this is where all the legalities and properties are evaluated, stripped down and then we dig for dirt on the recipients to see if we can charge them for anything before we can hand anything over, if they go to church every sunday, if they pray everynight, if their button shirts line up, then we can have a ceremony, a celebration, some words of wisdom from the elders, a prayer, an offereing, and then a break, then refreshments….and if they dont get bored and walk away after all that….see to the left.

  20. I must, embarrassingly, admit that I had never heard about it before, and now I’m sad that it is gone. Thanks for ruining my Sunday afternoon 😉

  21. I came there becauze I wanted to see the azure window, but when I was there I discovered that the place was beautiful, even without the azure window, no regrets, its a place to recommend

  22. A rare man with rare stories on Rare Earth. Its just never only the views, with you its the view behind the view and in some cases several overlapping layered views. Keep telling stories. How about stories about the deadly beauties of Southeast Asia? Those perfect cone volcanoes? Those sulfuric lakes? Those idyllic beaches washed by tsunamis? Picturesque hillsides continually rearranged by earthquakes? You'll find something.

  23. +Rare Earth
    I dig that t-shirt my dude. Akira is a great movie, easily a masterpiece.

  24. 02:55 The Mona Lisa is only famous because it was stolen, plus it's not even the original, Leonardo made another one a few decades earlier which is in England now.

  25. The Mona Lisa wasn't even particularly famous and well regarded until it was stolen and, when people finally noticed the unremarkable painting was gone, put into the papers so everyone could get some mere exposure.
    Now most people who go to the Louvre go in, walk straight to the suddenly-famous painting, look at it for 2 minutes or less, and then leave.

  26. that's a really interesting way to look at it. Dealing with loss is when we have built our own internal mental infrastructure around something and then that thing disappears

  27. If we are close enough to see your expressions, perhaps sunglasses are not quite right. The camera turns them flat black in the white balance and after all, you are a communicator. A hat is healthier for the body too.

  28. Wait, why would anyone care about that? seriously? there's nothing special about it. There's literally thousands of rock formation like that. Hell you even said it in the video that it's not even the real one so there has been more than one just in that small area.

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