The Great History of the Dolomites

The Dolomites are skyscrapers of stone with indescribable color, unique for the drama of their profiles. Cyclopean and unpredictable, they boast a history of 200 million years. Spires, pinnacles and towers are like many organ pipes that the breath of the winds caresses with spectacular messages to the scenic valleys below.Their rocks are ancient, born from the sea, from a deposit of coral atolls, and are raised to the sky in all their majesty and beauty; a harmony from appearance whimsical, romantic and brittle at the same time; a prettiness that captures the changing of the hours, of the days, of the seasons, to be always lovely and to be loved.

The discoverers of the charm of the “Pale Mountains” were not climbers or tourists. Their very special charm had already been discovered by the first strangers that, about 200 years ago, began to get interested in these mountains.It was geologists, writers and intellectuals from all over Europe who indicated the destination to English noblemen.The knowledge and the attendance of the Dolomite valleys has been conditioned for a long time by the distance and the road which was rather uncomfortable.

The discovery of the Dolomites, as we commonly understand it today, had other motives, namely the scientific study of nature and the fascination for exotic locations.It was Déodat de Dolomieu that during a trip through the Tyrol in 1789, was intrigued by the particular color of a limestone rock, which was afterwards called dolomite. After his visit, others came here, for example a young and reckless man like Grohmann, a blond Viennese, who spoke to the tops of the mountains as if they were people, or the countryman Paul Preuss, a skilled pioneer of free climbing, the Anglo-Saxon Whitwell, the French Devouassoud, and from Belgian, King Albert I and his son Leopold of Brabant.

The same force that brings Europeans to discover and colonize new worlds also brings them closer to the Alps, which are the destination of the Grand Tour of English and German. In the years 1861 and 1862, the naturalist Manchester Churchill and his partner Gilbert, with their ladies, crossed the Tyrol, Carinthia, Friuli and Carniola. A year later, in London, a book was published called The Dolomite Mountains, a masterpiece of unintentional tourism promotion. The Dolomites conquer celebrity and famous guests, like Elisabeth of Austria, called Sissi. The road seems marked, but the First World War extended wildfire over the lands and the mountain peaks and blocked the flow of tourists for many years.

Even after the war the recovery was slow, and it took some time for the Dolomites to resume a place in international tourism. Thanks to the inimitable beauty of the mountains, its summits and the tenacity of the people who live there, they have become an international attraction. On June 26, 2006, the Dolomites were declared a “World Heritage” site, reserved for the natural beauty of the world. 280,000 acres of mountains over 2,000 meters high, almost without a sign of human life.

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