The Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Val d’Ega
Snow White and Rose Red
Thoughts of a wanderer: insights, (over)views, gazing round
Eyes. Yes, the eyes of hikers and walkers usually open very wide as they climb, smiling, out of the “Eye on the Dolomites”, the information-packed attraction at 2,000 metres above sea level. It is indeed a true eye-opener – and everybody gets the joke: “Cast an eye on the Dolomites”. Standing up there, on the high plateaus surrounded by the pale rock sculptures of the Dolomites that form a colossal open-air playground, I too look on in amazement. Again and again.
Protected by the global community – the UNESCO World Heritage
It is a sublime feeling to wander round these pale, placid mountains. The 142,000 hectares of the Dolomites are home to some 2,400 different plant species. Since 2009 this mountain realm has officially been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. And it’s easy to forget about the outside world as your gaze wanders over the jagged horizon, as the shadows of the clouds rush over the blooming Alpine meadows and the lichens of ancient conifers whisper softly in the wind.
Ebb and flow. The tides keep coming back to my mind between the milky, pale rock formations that were once limestone reefs surrounded by a deep prehistoric ocean. The black streaks on the white limestone walls were formed by fossilised algae, and from time to time you find sea creatures turned to stone – snail shells or molluscs. Probably the most profound insight to be had into the Dolomites is to be found in the GEOPARC Bletterbach – a gorge, eight kilometres long and 400 metres deep, that relates over 40 million years of geological history.
I choose the Latemarium for the best overview instead. Strolling along the themed paths, I read, learn – and gaze round the breathtaking mountain realm from the platforms of the Val d’Ega’s mountain cinema. I let my thoughts soar with the golden eagle that is said to live up here on the rocky walls of the World Heritage Site.
Climbers, hikers, cyclists, nature enthusiasts – everybody loves the landscape around and between the Catinaccio and Latemar massifs. It is all impressive, calm and wild at the same time. Unique, really. Together with eight other areas in the Dolomites, the Catinaccio and Latemar massifs belong to just 199 landscapes worldwide that have been awarded World Heritage status.
I’m going to treat myself to a taste of South Tyrolean fare in one of the Val d’Ega’s 32 mountain huts: I choose the Oberholz hut that opens out towards the mountains and offers free panoramic views - and delicious apple strudel!
Rose red figures in the gallery of legends
History is ever-present in the Dolomites. The dwarves and their mighty King Laurin quietly guard the memory of the blossoming rose garden that now delights us as a stone maze. And in the evenings, just before the sun goes down, the mountains glow a deep rosy red. I carry this impression with me as I return home. And I will definitely be coming back, to the these pale mountains, to the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site and to the Catinaccio and Latemar.