Top 12 Interesting Facts About The Dolomites

One of the most fascinating mountain ranges in the world can be found in the northeastern corner of Italy.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about the Dolomites, an incredible piece of nature!

1. The range is located in 3 different regions of Italy

The Dolomites is one of the most famous mountain ranges in Europe. It’s located in the northeastern part of Italy in the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, and Friuli Venezia Giulia, 3 of the 20 regions that make up the country.

This extremely picturesque mountain range is situated within the borders of 7 different Italian provinces, Belluno, Vicenza, Verona, Trentino, South Tyrol, Udine, and Pordenone.

It’s far from being the most extensive mountain range in the world as it covers an area of 15,942 square kilometers (6,155 square miles). This means that the range is entirely situated within the borders of Italy.

Dolomites location
View of the mountain range / Wiki Commons

2. The mountains are bounded by 1 river and 3 valleys

Because it’s located in numerous Italian regions and provinces, it’s much easier to define the boundaries of this range with natural landmarks. This means that the Dolomites are bounded by:

  • The River Adige in the west – The Second-longest river in Italy after the Po River with a length of 410 kilometers (250 miles).
  • The Piave Valley in the east – Formed by another river in Italy, the Piave River.
  • The Puster Valley in the north – One of the largest valleys in the Alps Mountains.
  • The Sugana Valley in the south – One of the most prominent valleys in the province of Trentino.

Regardless of what side you approach this majestic mountain range, you’re bound to end up in one of the most idyllic natural landscapes imaginable!

Dolomites idyllic landscape
Landscape in the range / Wiki Commons

3. Are the Dolomites part of the Alps?

One of the biggest questions regarding this mountain range is whether or not the Dolomites are part of the Alps or not. After all, the remarkable mountains of the Dolomites are very distinctive which makes one assume this is a completely separate range.

The Dolomites are in fact part of the Alps and are part of the “Southern Limestone Alps,” also known as the “Southern Calcareous Alps.”

The ranges here are part of the Eastern Alps and located south of the central Eastern Alps. They cover areas in 3 different countries, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia.

Dolomites fun facts

4. There are two separate sections of the Dolomites

Separating the Dolomites isn’t a hard thing to do, because there’s a collection of valleys and passes running right through the middle from north to south. These consist of the Badia Valley, the Campolongo Pass, and the Cordevole Valley.

This means that the two distinct regions are referred to as the Western Dolomites and the Eastern Dolomites.

The entire range also consists of a total of 26 different mountain groups and ranges. Some of the most famous groups are the “Sella Group,” the “Cristallo Group,” and the “Sexten Dolomites.”

Dolomites magnificent landscape
The magnificent landscape in the mountain range / Wiki Commons

5. This is probably the most famous mountain group in the region

One of the most amazing Facts about the Dolomites is that it probably features the most famous mountain group in all of the Alps. This group is referred to as the “Tre Cime di Lavaredo” or “Drei Zinnen” (in German) which translates to “Three Merlons.”

We told you there were some distinctive peaks situated in this mountain range, right? Well, you will hardly find a more intriguing feat of nature than these 3 peaks which are named:

  • Cima Piccola – Kleine Zinne – little peak – 2,857 meters (9,373 feet)
  • Cima Grande – Große Zinne – big peak – 2,999 meters (9,839 feet)
  • Cima Ovest – Westliche Zinne – western peak – 2,973 meters (9,754 feet)
tre cime di lavaredo
Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Wiki Commons

6. Their nickname refers to the minerals they are made out of

So how did these remarkable rock formations come to be? The answer lies in the fact that these were carved out of a relatively soft carbonite rock referred to as “dolomite.”

This process was set in motion during the Triassic Period, a period that lasted about 50.6 million years between 251.902 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, to the beginning of the Jurassic Period about 201.36 million years ago.

Because of the white color of this particular type of rock, the mountain range is sometimes nicknamed the “Pale Mountains.”

Dolomites limestone
The white composite rock called “Dolomite.” / Wiki Commons

7. The mineral itself was named after a French geologist

This type of rock was first described in the 18th century by a French geologist named Dieudonné Sylvain Guy Tancrède de Gratet de Dolomieu (1750-1801), better known as simply Déodat de Dolomieu.

This man was basically the discoverer of the mineral that makes up this particular type of rock and described it for the first time in the French science magazine “Journal de Physique” In March 1792.

Shortly after, the mineral, the rock, as well as the mountain range itself were named after him.

Déodat de Dolomieu
Déodat de Dolomieu / Wiki Commons

8. The highest peak is located about 100 kilometers from Venice

The highest mountain in the range is called the Marmolada and stands 3,343 meters (10,968 feet) above sea level. It’s situated right on the border between Trentino and Veneto and is situated about 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the north-northwest of the popular city of Venice.

Because the mountain has a topographic prominence of 2,131 meters (6,991 feet), it’s considered to be an ultra-prominent mountain (over 1,500 meters / 4,900 feet).

Marmolada dolomites
Marmolada, is the highest mountain in the range. / Wiki Commons

9. The range features countless remarkable hiking trails

Even though the range is famous for a wide variety of entertainment options, including mountain climbing, skiing, cycling, BASE jumping, and paragliding. Hiking is perhaps the most popular activity among tourists.

The reason is fairly simple, the Dolomites are littered with some of the most amazing hiking trails in the world. All of these fascinating spots offer picturesque locations and astounding views of the rock formations located here.

Sella Hiking trails
One of the many hiking trails / Roberto Ferrari /

10. One of the most remarkable hiking trails is a WWI tunnel

If you’re really into an amazing adventure, then following the “Strada delle 52 Gallerie” or “Road of the 52 Tunnels” might be something that intrigues you.

This tunnel complex was built during World War I and is located in the Pasubio Massif in the Veneto Region. It was built by the mining division of the Italian army and has a total length of 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) and an elevation of 750 meters (2,460 feet).

All we can say is, this is one of the most amazing hiking trails in the world!

52 gallerie pasubio
Strada delle 52 Gallerie / Wiki Commons

11. The range features the longest public staircase in the world

This mountain range is really heaven for adventurous people who don’t mind sweating a bit. If that’s someone like you then you might try another exciting hike, all the way up the longest staircase in the world that is open to the public!

Only the Niesen Funicular service staircase is longer, but this one isn’t open to the public except for once a year.

This staircase runs all the way from the village of Sasso di Asiago towards the town of Valstagna in the province of Vicenza. The staircase is 7 kilometers (4 miles) long and has a total elevation change of 744 meters (2,441 feet).

This staircase dates back to the Republic of Venice (697-1797 A.D.) when timber was brought down the stairs to the river Brenta where it was loaded into boats and transported to the city of Venice.

Cala del Sasso
Part of the Calà del Sasso / Fabryr /

12. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009

The mountain range is home to a wide variety of national parks, including the “Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park” in the province of Belluno. This park was established in 1988 and covers an area of 32 square kilometers (12 square miles).

This park along with the various other smaller regional parks is the reason that the range has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009.

The organization mentioned that this fascinating piece of nature offers some of the most amazing mountain landscapes in the world with numerous steep cliffs and valleys of immense natural beauty.

It’s a great explanation and pretty hard to deny, don’t you think?

Dolomites UNESCO