5 historical reasons to visit the Dolomites

The Dolomites were proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 not only for being among the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the world, but also for the geological and historical vital role they portray in revealing the past of our planet.

From the sea to the sky

While walking amidst the high peaks of these mountains one needs to imagine what this area was like millions of years ago: wading through ancient lagoons and descending cliffs which were submerged by very deep and warm seas. The rocks of the Dolomites are proof of the coral reefs and volcanic eruptions which characterize this area and reveal the history of Planet Earth.

Dinosaurs in the Dolomites

Only recently has it been discovered that Dinosaurs roamed these mountains far and wide. Important fossils trace the history of these prehistoric creatures. A thrilling but not unusual element of a visit to the Dolomites is finding a footprint which has been embedded in the rocks for millions of years. In the town of San Candido you can visit the Dolomythos museum, the most visited and interesting museum in the Dolomites. Displaying a variety of historical artifacts of the Dolomites, from fossils to rock, to the importance of the area during WW1.

The First World War

The war in the Dolomites, even though it was almost a forgotten part of this Great War, was of great importance as it was the first time that soldiers were expected to hold out for years at high altitudes and in extreme conditions. As no armored vehicles could reach these rock faces, it was battle of man against man and still worse, man against terrible weather conditions. To this day many relics of the tragic tragic trench warfare fought on these unforgiving mountains can still be found in the most absurd and impossible places. Open air museums can be visited on the sights of important battlefields and in some places new discoveries are made regularly.

Lake Braies and the Nazis

Known today as the most photographed lake in Europe, this pearl of the Dolomites played an important part towards the end of WW2. After the assassination attempt on Hitler’s life many important people were taken prisoner and sent to Dachau concentration camp. Against Hitlers orders, 139 of the most important members of these prisoners were saved from execution to be used as a defense weapon against the allied forces. The Wehrmacht removed the prisoners from the SS forces and they were taken to the large hotel which still lies on the banks of the lake, where they were saved by the American forces a few days later.

The German composer

Every summer the town of Dobbiaco holds the Gustav Mahler music week to honor and remember the famous composer who spent three summer holidays in this magical setting. He composed some of his works in a hut in the woods close to the ancient mansion he rented. Gustav Mahler was born in 1860 to a Jewish German speaking family. He started playing the piano at the age of four and gave his first public performance at ten. Considered as one of the world’s greatest conductors, composing was his passion. His music depicts the suffering and hardship he encountered during his lifetime.

A visit to the Pale Mountains is a trip back in time amongst a breathtaking backdrop.

Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Ted says:

    I’ve visited the Dolomites twice, staging out of Bolzano each time, and it’s likely the most beautiful place I’ve been on this planet. Our goal is to try a hut-to-hut hiking trip across the mountains; it’s just exquisite. Can’t recommend the region enough.

  2. Sammi says:

    Ooh I’ve never actually heard of the Dolomites before. I never considered Italy as a place to go hiking, but it actually looks great – I can’t believe how much history is there. The Lake Braies looks so stunning, I had no idea that it was the most photographed in Europe, it’s easy to see why! So much history and so much beauty

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