Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage

The UNESCO declaration on the extraordinary universal value of the Dolomites based on CRITERIA VII “to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance” is as follows:

The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. A great diversity of colours is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-coloured rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below. The mountains rise as peaks with intervening ravines, in some places standing isolated but in others forming sweeping panoramas. Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 m and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world. The distinctive scenery of the Dolomites has become the archetype of a “dolomitic landscape”. Geologist pioneers were the first to be captured by the beauty of the mountains, and their writing and subsequent painting and photography further underline the aesthetic appeal of the property.

The world heritage system “Schlern-Rosengarten & Latemar” is amongst the most enchanting mountain groups of the Dolomites. It impresses not only with imposing mountain massifs, but also with many steep towers and large rock walls. The landscape is varied, features impressive shapes like the Vajolet Towers, the Latemar Towers and the Schlern Reef. Just like imposing bastions, the Rosengarten and the Schlern tower over a rock terrace with the Tiers Valley and the Eisack Valley to the north-west, and the Fassa and Duron valleys to the south.

unesco 01 unesco 02


The peculiarity of this massif is that its outline changes greatly depending on which slope you are looking at: Seen from Bozen for example, Schlern seems like a giant monolith with a flat roof, with the two peaks Santner and Euringer reaching into the sky - this pictures has become a symbol of South Tyrol. Seen from Seiser Alm, Schlern Mountain looks like a large slope surface from tilted Dolomite benches, which end in the soft, grassy grounds of Seiser Alm.

The Rosengarten seems like an almost endless sequence of pointy peaks and needles, the remains of a former, approx. 240 million old reef body, which grew into the open sea in a south-easterly direction starting from the Vajolet Towers.

Very spectacular is the interplay of colours on the Rosengarten, which changes during the course of the day from pink to red and violet in the evening. Numerous legends surround this mountain massif, with the most well-known the legend of the king of dwarves Laurin. A little further, you'll notice Latemar Mountain reaching into the sky between the Fleims Valley (Trentino) and the Eggen Valley (South Tyrol). The view is especially impressive when you look at it from Karerpass: The horizontal lines of the lagoon sediments, the sloping profile of the escarpment and the peaks, amongst which the Latemar stands out, are reflected in the waters of the beautiful Karersee Lake.

From a geological point of view, the Schlern-Rosengarten and Latemar are one of the most important systems worldwide for the study of the stratigraphy of the Triassic (about 248 to 23 million years ago), thanks to the abundance of fossils on these mountains, the relationship between volcanic and carbonate sediments , and the fact that the outcrops are easily accessible.

unesco 03 unesco 04


From a geomorphological point of view, the World Natural Heritage site presents a variety of rock types. The mountain range is a compact dolomite massif, that shows ample evidence of the effects of tectonic movements, which created a large variety of forms, and present a variety of rock types. There is also ample evidence of glacial and landslide phenomena.

In 1864, Josiah Gilbert and George Cheetham Churchill wrote in their publication “The Dolomite Mountains” the following:

„Imagine a gigantic amphitheatre of jagged, cleft precipices, shooting 3,000 feet above the spectator out from a depth far below him, and reaching, in the Rothewand Spitze (sic), to a height of 10,200 feet above the sea. Let the arms of this amphitheatre stretch forward so as to embrace nearly one half of his horizon, shooting him up to the one view of a stern, desolate, barren face, that presents itself on all sides. Let successive masses of débris descend from the base of this long line of precipices through the whole sweep of its circuit, and threaten to occupy the entire basin below, while still leaving a small patch of bright green pasture, on which a dark spot is identified as a chalet: all this imagined will still give but a very inadequate idea of the impressiveness of the scene“.