The Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site
Graceful and majestic, the bizarre peaks and rock formations of the Dolomites soar skywards, a masterpiece of nature. The geological history of the Dolomites began around 280 million years ago when a mountain range at the edge of an ocean gulf began to sink, turning the present-day area of the Dolomites into a deep tropical sea basin. Needing light to survive, the calcareous algae, sponges and microorganisms built their reefs and atolls ever higher, creating impressive formations. When, around 30 million years ago, the European and African tectonic plates collided and the Alps folded over themselves, the Dolomites were lifted like a platform from the sea, leaving their unique rock layers preserved. These exceptional geological features led the Dolomites to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009. The nine sub-areas of the Dolomites World Heritage Site span the five Italian provinces of Bolzano/Bozen, Trento, Belluno, Pordenone and Udine, of which four sub-areas are located in South Tyrol.