The Dolomites are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy.
This mountain range stretches across northeastern Italy, just beneath the Austrian border.
The Dolomites are bounded by the valleys of the Isarco (northwest), the Pusteria (north), the Piave (east and southeast), the Brenta (southwest), and the Adige (west).
The range cover 141,903 hectares (356,500 acres).
It comprises a number of impressive peaks, 18 of which rise to more than 3,000 metres (almost 10,000 feet).
The highest point is the Marmolada at 3,342 metres (10,964 feet) above sea level. It is located about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north-northwest of Venice, from which it can be seen on a clear day.
The Dolomites features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.
Glaciated features occur at higher levels – 41 glaciers lie in the region.
About 250 million years ago the territory where today the Dolomites was an extensive tropical ocean, at the bottom of these seas accumulated sediments that with time solidified into rock. The clash of the European plate with the African brought out these spiers.
The range and its characteristic rock take their name from the 18th-century French geologist Dieudonné Dolomieu, who made the first scientific study of the region and its geology.
Geologically, the mountains are formed of light-colored dolomitic limestone, which erosion has carved into large and beautiful shapes.
Many of the lower and more gentle scree slopes were once forested – only patches of woodland remain, however, interspersed with grassy meadows.
At sunset and at dawn in the Dolomites you can admire the spectacle of Enrosadira a natural phenomenon that paints a pale pink to fiery red the Dolomite peaks. Enrosadira is derived from the Ladin term “rosadüra”, literally meaning “turning pink”, which is commonly known as the Alpenglow elsewhere in the Alps.
In August 2009, the Dolomites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Free climbing has been a tradition in the Dolomites since 1887, when 17-year-old Georg Winkler soloed the first ascent of the pinnacle Die Vajolettürme.
During the First World War, the front line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces ran through the Dolomites, where both sides used mines extensively. Open-air war museums are located at Cinque Torri (Five Towers) and Mount Lagazuoi.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a town and comune in the southern part of the range. This town was selected as the host city for the 1944 Winter Olympics, which were cancelled because of World War II. Following the war Cortina hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956 and has subsequently been the setting for a number of world winter-sports events.
A number of long-distance footpaths traverse the Dolomites. They are called alte vie (high paths), and are numbered 1 to 8. The trails take about a week to walk, and are served by numerous rifugi (huts). The first and the most renowned is the Alta Via 1.
The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park and many other regional parks are located in the Dolomites.
In the local Ladin language the Dolomites were traditionally known as the “Pale Mountains.”