Born from the sea more than 200 million years ago, the Dolomites, now as in the past, capture our imagination with their spectacular vertical conformations, the giant rock cliffs that climb even 1600 metres above the soft and rolling lines of the Alpine forests and pastures.

Phenomenon of Alpenglow


the Dolomites full of the warm colours of the sunrise and sunset

During the course of the day, the rock faces, owing to the specific structure and composition of dolomite rock, react in a spectacular and unique manner to the changing light. This is the phenomenon of “Enrosadira” (Alpenglow), which fills the Dolomites with the warm colours of the sunrise and sunset: a kaleidoscope of colours that is truly unique. Walking among these mountains is a visual and emotional experience which, for almost two centuries, has captured the hearts of travellers, mountaineers, writers and artists.

Dolomites - Fototeca Trentino Sviluppo S.p.A. - photo Giovanni Cavulli

What are these mountains?

the British Gilbert and Churchill ask

This was the question asked in the Nineteenth century by the first real travellers in the Dolomite valleys and after them, mountaineering pioneers like Paul Grohmann, John Ball, D.W. Freshfield. And it is the same question that many present-day visitors ask, when faced with their breathtaking beauty.

The current appearance of the Dolomites is the result of a long and fascinating geological history, which shaped them 270 million years ago, when they were not mountains yet, but rather a vast flood plain overlooking a tropical gulf in the sea between Europe and Africa.

Dolomites and children - Fototeca Trentino Sviluppo S.p.A. - photo Angeli

World Heritage site

An exceptional universal value

In 2009, UNESCO recognised the Dolomites as a World Heritage site, for their aesthetic and natural value, and for their scientific importance in geological and geomorphological terms. This is a complex asset, in both geographical and administrative terms, made up of nine Systems and covering 142,000 hectares in 5 Provinces and 3 Regions. To be added to in the UNESCO World Heritage lists, means primarily possessing “exceptional universal value” – that is to say, to be extraordinarily representative of the cultural and natural wealth of our planet, to the point of becoming a reference for all humanity. One year later, in 2010, the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation was established, with the purpose of guaranteeing effective management of the asset, favouring its sustainable development, and promoting collaborations between territorial authorities responsible for administration in their own areas according to different regulations.