The Dolomites (Italian: Dolomiti [doloˈmiːti]; Latin: Dolomites; German: Dolomiten [doloˈmɪtn̩] (listen); Venetian: Dołomiti [doɰoˈmiti]: Friulian: Dolomitis) are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. They form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley (Pieve di Cadore) in the east. The northern and southern borders are defined by the Puster Valley and the Sugana Valley (Italian: Valsugana). The Dolomites are nearly equally shared between the provinces of Belluno, South Tyrol and Trentino.

Italian: Dolomiti
German: Dolomiten
The Western Dolomites in Gherdëina
Highest point
Elevation3,343 m (10,968 ft)
Coordinates46°26′N 11°51′E
Location of the Dolomites in the Alps
ProvinceBelluno, South Tyrol and Trentino
Parent rangeAlps
OrogenyAlpine orogeny
Age of rockMostly Triassic
Type of rockSedimentary rocks,
including dolomite, and volcanics
The Dolomites
UNESCO World Heritage Site
CriteriaNatural: vii, viii
Inscription2009 (33rd Session)
Area141,902.8 ha
Buffer zone89,266.7 ha

Other mountain groups of similar geological structure spread along the River Piave to the east – Dolomiti d'Oltrepiave; and far away over the Adige River to the west – Dolomiti di Brenta (Western Dolomites). A smaller group is called Piccole Dolomiti (Little Dolomites), located between the provinces of Trentino, Verona, and Vicenza (see map).

The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park and many other regional parks are located in the Dolomites. In August 2009, the Dolomites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The Dolomites, also known as the "Pale Mountains", take their name from the carbonate rock dolomite. This was named for 18th-century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu (1750–1801), who was the first to describe the mineral.[1]


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. Many people visit the Dolomites to climb the vie ferrate, protected paths through the minefields that were created during the war.

A number of long-distance footpaths traverse the Dolomites. They are called alte vie (high paths), and are numbered from 1 to 8. The trails take on the order of a week to walk, and are served by numerous rifugi (huts). The first and perhaps most renowned is the Alta Via 1.

Radiocarbon dating has been used in the Alta Badia region to demonstrate a connection between landslide activity and climate change.[2]


The region is commonly divided into the Western and Eastern Dolomites, separated by a line following the Val Badia – Campolongo Pass – Cordevole Valley (Agordino) axis.

Current classification

The Dolomites may be divided into the following ranges:


The Dolomites are renowned for skiing in the winter months and mountain climbing, hiking, cycling, and BASE jumping, as well as paragliding and hang gliding in summer and late spring/early autumn. 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.[3] The main centres include: Rocca Pietore alongside the Marmolada Glacier, which lies on the border of Trentino and Veneto, the small towns of Alleghe, Falcade, Auronzo, Cortina d'Ampezzo and the villages of Arabba, Urtijëi and San Martino di Castrozza, as well as the whole of the Fassa, Gardena and Badia valleys.

The Maratona dles Dolomites, an annual single-day road bicycle racing race covering seven mountain passes of the Dolomites, occurs in the first week of July.

Other characteristic places are:

Major peaks

Name metres feet Name metres feet
Marmolada 3,343 10,968 Pala di San Martino 2,982 9,831
Antelao 3,264 10,706 Rosengartenspitze / Catinaccio 2,981 9,781
Tofana di Mezzo 3,241 10,633 Cima di Fradusta 2,941 9,715
Sorapiss 3,229 10,594 Cimon del Froppa 2,932 9,649
Cristallo 3,221 10,568 Monte Agnèr 2,872 9,416
Monte Civetta 3,220 10,564 Fermedaturm 2,867 9,407
Cima di Vezzana 3,192 10,470 Cima d'Asta 2,848 9,344
Cimon della Pala 3,184 10,453 Cima di Canali 2,846 9,338
Langkofel / Sassolungo 3,181 10,427 Croda Grande 2,839 9,315
Monte Pelmo 3,168 10,397 Vajoletturm / Torri del Vajolet (highest) 2,821 9,256
Dreischusterspitze 3,162 10,375 Sass Maor 2,816 9,239
Boespitze / Piz Boè (Sella group) 3,152 10,342 Cima di Ball 2,783 9,131
Hohe Gaisl (Croda Rossa d'Ampezzo) 3,148 10,329 Cima della Madonna (Sass Maor) 2,751 9,026
Vernel 3,145 10,319 Rosetta 2,741 8,993
Piz Popena 3,143 10,312 Croda da Lago 2,716 8,911
Grohmannspitze (Langkofel) 3,126 10,256 Central Grasleitenspitze 2,705 8,875
Zwölferkofel 3,094 10,151 Schlern 2,562 8,406
Elferkofel 3,092 10,144 Sasso di Mur 2,554 8,380
Sass Rigais (Geislerspitzen) 3,025 9,925 Cima delle Dodici 2,338 7,671
Kesselkogel (Rosengarten) 3,004 9,856 Monte Pavione 2,336 7,664
Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen) 2,999 9,839 Cima Palon 2,239 7,346
Fünffingerspitze 2,997 9,833 Cima di Posta 2,235 7,333

Major passes

Ombretta Pass (Campitello to Caprile), footpath2,7388,983
Langkofeljoch (Gröden Valley to Campitello), footpath2,6838,803
Tschagerjoch (Karersee to the Vajolet Glen), footpath2,6448,675
Grasleiten Pass (Vajolet Glen to the Grasleiten Glen), footpath2,5978,521
Pravitale Pass (Rosetta Plateau to the Pravitale Glen), footpath2,5808,465
Comelle Pass (same to Cencenighe), footpath2,5798,462
Rosetta Pass (San Martino di Castrozza to the great limestone Rosetta plateau), footpath2,5738,442
Vajolet Pass (Tiers to the Vajolet Glen), footpath2,5498,363
Canali Pass (Primiero to Agordo), footpath2,4978,193
Tierseralpljoch (Campitello to Tiers), footpath2,4558,055
Ball Pass (San Martino di Castrozza to the Pravitale Glen), footpath2,4508,038
Forcella di Giralba (Sexten to Auronzo), footpath2,4367,992
Col dei Bos (Falzarego Glen to the Travernanzes Glen), footpath2,3137,589
Forcella Grande (San Vito to Auronzo), footpath2,2627,422
Pordoi Pass (Arabba to Val di Fassa), road2,2507,382
Sella Pass (Gröden Valley to Val di Fassa), road2,2447,362
Giau Pass (Cortina to Val Fiorentina), road2,2367,336
Tre Sassi Pass (Cortina to St Cassian), footpath2,1997,215
Valparola Pass (Cortina to St Cassian), road2,1687,113
Mahlknechtjoch (Upper Duron Glen to the Seiser Alp), footpath2,1687,113
Gardena Pass (Gröden Valley to Colfuschg), road2,1216,959
Falzarego Pass (Caprile to Cortina), road2,1176,946
Fedaja Pass (Val di Fassa to Caprile), bridle path2,0466,713
Valles Pass (Paneveggio to Falcade), road2,0326,667
Würzjoch (Eisacktal to Val Badia), road2,0036,572
Rolle Pass (Predazzo to San Martino di Castrozza and Primiero), road1,9846,509
Forcella Forada (Caprile to San Vito), bridle path1,9756,480
San Pellegrino Pass (Moena to Cencenighe), road1,9106,267
Campolongo Pass (Corvara to Arabba), road1,8756,152
Forcella d'Alleghe (Alleghe to the Zoldo Glen), footpath1,8205,971
Tre Croci Pass (Cortina to Auronzo), road1,8085,932
Furkel Pass (Mareo to Olang), road1,7595,771
Karerpass or Costalunga Pass (Welschnofen to Vigo di Fassa), road1,7535,751
Kreuzbergpass or Monte Croce Pass (Innichen and Sexten to the Piave Valley and Belluno), road1,6385,374
Ampezzo Pass (Toblach to Cortina and Belluno), path1,5445,066
Cereda Pass (Primiero to Agordo), road1,3724,501
Toblach Pass (Bruneck to Lienz), railway1,2093,967

Major parks

See also


  1. Saussure le fils, M. de (1792): "Analyse de la dolomite". Journal de Physique, vol. 40, pp. 161–173.
  2. Borgatti, Lisa; Soldati, Mauro (2010-08-01). "Landslides as a geomorphological proxy for climate change: A record from the Dolomites (northern Italy)". Geomorphology. Landslide geomorphology in a changing environment. 120 (1–2): 56–64. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2009.09.015.
  3. Huber, Alex. "The Perfect Perfume". Rock and Ice Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15.


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