The Dolomites

Marmolada, The Dolomites (Sean Munson/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

N46 36 47 E12 9 47
Date of Inscription: 2009
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 141,902.8 ha
Buffer zone: 89,266.7 ha
Ref: 1237rev

The Geisler/Odle Group (Shane Lin/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0).

The nine components of The Dolomites World Heritage property protect a series of highly distinctive mountain landscapes that are of exceptional natural beauty. Their dramatic vertical and pale coloured peaks in a variety of distinctive sculptural forms is extraordinary in a global context. This property also contains an internationally important combination of earth science values. The quantity and concentration of highly varied limestone formations is extraordinary in a global context, whilst the superbly exposed geology provides an insight into the recovery of marine life in the Triassic period, after the greatest extinction event recorded in the history of life on Earth. The sublime, monumental and colourful landscapes of the Dolomites have also long attracted hosts of travellers and a history of scientific and artistic interpretations of its values.

Criterion (vii): The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. A great diversity of colours is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-coloured rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below. The mountains rise as peaks with intervening ravines, in some places standing isolated but in others forming sweeping panoramas. Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 m and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world. The distinctive scenery of the Dolomites has become the archetype of a “dolomitic landscape”. Geologist pioneers were the first to be captured by the beauty of the mountains, and their writing and subsequent painting and photography further underline the aesthetic appeal of the property.

Criterion (viii): The Dolomites are of international significance for geomorphology, as the classic site for the development of mountains in dolomitic limestone. The area presents a wide range of landforms related to erosion, tectonism and glaciation. The quantity and concentration of extremely varied limestone formations is extraordinary in a global context, including peaks, towers, pinnacles and some of the highest vertical rock walls in the world. The geological values are also of international significance, notably the evidence of Mesozoic carbonate platforms, or “fossilized atolls”, particularly in terms of the evidence they provide of the evolution of the bio-constructors after the Permian/Triassic boundary, and the preservation of the relationships between the reefs they constructed and their surrounding basins. The Dolomites also include several internationally important type sections for the stratigraphy of the Triassic Period. The scientific values of the property are also supported by the evidence of a long history of study and recognition at the international level. Taken together, the combination of geomorphological and geological values creates a property of global significance.

Suggested Base:

Trento (Archaic English: Trent, German: Trient), is a bit of an upmarket town in the northeast of Italy. History made it a proud town, with a number of large manors outside of the town, where bishops used to come for holidays. Nowadays it is one of the most expensive towns in Italy, due to farming, wine, and high-tech industries. At Easter the fields around Trento are in bloom with apple blossoms. The town centre is more or less a pedestrian area, and walking around the historic centre you can see a number of outdoor frescos on historic buildings. In the past the river Adige flowed right outside the centre where now Torre Verde is. The city is probably best known for the Council of Trent, which gathered in Trento in the sixteenth century for many periods of several years in buildings which dominate the town centre. [read more]

Venice (Italian: Venezia; Venetian: Venexia) used to be an independent republic, and remains one of Italy’s most important cities. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago, which adds to the fascinating character. Venice has decayed since its heyday and is heavily touristed (there are slightly more tourists than residents), but the romantic charm remains. It is also known as the birthplace of composers Tomaso Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi. Venice and its lagoon are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The comune (municipality) of Venice is made up of numerous islands in the Venetian Lagoon as well as a stretch of terraferma (mainland) in northern Italy. The comune is divided into six boroughs, the most famous of which (known as Venezia Insulare) comprises the historic city of Venice as well as the islands of Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Mazzorbo, and Sant’Erasmo. [read more]

Milan (Italian: Milano; Milanese: Milan) is financially the most important city in Italy, and home to the Borsa Italiana stock exchange. It is the second most populous city proper in the country, but sits at the centre of Italy’s largest urban and metropolitan area. While not considered as beautiful as some Italian cities, having been greatly destroyed by Second World War bomb raids, the city has rebuilt itself into a thriving cosmopolitan business capital. In essence, for a tourist, what makes Milan interesting compared to other places is that the city is truly more about the lifestyle of enjoying worldly pleasures: a paradise for shopping, football, opera, and nightlife. Milan remains the marketplace for Italian fashion – fashion aficionados, supermodels and international paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. [read more]


8 Replies to “The Dolomites”

  1. When people come to ride or hike, they like to come for a week. You need a minimum of three days to really get a feel. They like to go up to Tre Cima di Lavaredo, Mount Civetta, Mount Marmolada and Pale di San Martino, which are spectacular mountains with cliffs. The “four passes” – Gardena, Campolongo, Pordoi and Sella – are beautiful. Another highlight of the area is the Penta group near Lake Garda.

    The tallest mountain is just over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet); the passes are about 2,000 meters (6,582 feet).

    There’s something for all levels here, novice to expert.

    There are overnight camping huts throughout the system: You’re never more than 2 1 / 2hours of walking from some kind of support system. You can stay in a hut in the mountains or stay in villages or town.

    You don’t, as a rule of thumb, want to hike in the higher elevations after 3 p.m. That’s often when you get thunder storms off the Adriatic Sea.


  2. While Cortina is definitely a draw for the adventurous, there is plenty to do if you prefer more gentle activity. The town itself feels more Austrian than Italian, with carved wooden balconies and baskets of geraniums. Designer brands are wedged between the outdoor-wear shops, and in the evenings well-groomed locals and visitors sip Aperol spritzers. My spacious room at the Hotel Franceschi looked out over mountain peaks and was a five-minute walk from Pasticceria Alvera, brilliant for morning croissants or afternoon cake.

    There are easy walks or drives to surrounding villages and lakes, and I’d recommended lunch or dinner at Il Brite de Larieto, a working farm and restaurant two kilometres out of town. Everything on the menu is made here, from ham and cheese to fennel-seed bread and traditional dumplings.

    The region’s mountain refuges are also reachable without hiking for miles as lots of them have cable cars which take you close by.

    I stayed the night in family-run Rifugio Averau, with good home-cooked food and comfy dorms, where a dramatic midnight thunderstorm ricocheted around the mountains.


  3. Along with the language and culture, the landscape creates a feeling of being in another world. On our first day, we catch the cable car up to the Alpe di Siusi, and find scenery I have rarely seen the like of. The green rolling hills and meadows of summer flowers contrast with the spiky and dramatic grey of the mountains: it’s a cross between Sound of Music country and Middle-earth.


  4. In 2006 I hiked from rifugio Fodara to Sebastiano, with a rest day in Cortina, and it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. Spectacular scenery, wonderful refuges, and no crowds. The rocks have a pink-orange warmth that looks great against the blue skies and green of the trees.


  5. To make your time in the mountains truly special, why not stop for a bite or even stay overnight in one of the many refugios – charming traditional mountain huts that are scattered among the region. Each has it’s own unique characteristics, some famous for their food, others for their warm hospitality. Seeing the sun set in the Dolomites, and rise again in the morning will be a truly magical experience.


  6. For the Italians the area of Alta Badia and the whole region (called Trentino) is the winter time tourist magnet for skiers, but it is also the place to be in summer when you don’t want to go to crowded beaches – the whole area is fantastically equipped for toursists and there are aeven special family hotels where the small children are well catered for., allowing the parents to have quality toime together. All in all one of the best areas to holiday in.


  7. Standing among these incredible peaks almost does not feel like reality. It felt as though I was standing in a fairy tale. I wanted to capture that feeling and emotion in the photographs. Weather was a bit tough during the trip. There was a lot of rain and cloud cover. I spent a good amount of time waiting for clearings in the storms to create the images and time lapses. These moments would often only last a few minutes. I love the feeling of being out in nature, traveling and seeing new places. Hiking around and waiting for the right moments to capture the scenes.


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