Dolomite Mountains – 10 Facts You Should Know

Italian Dolomites

The Mighty Dolomite Mountains

The Italian Dolomite Mountains stand between Switzerland, Austria and Italy as majestic protectors of an area filled with rich culture and customs. Read these ten unique facts about the Italian Dolomite Mountains and look forward to your Alpenwild Dolomite Hiking Tour.

Italian Dolomites
The Italian Dolomite Mountains


The Dolomite Mountains are composed of a carbon-based mineral named dolomite. The name was coined by the 18th century French mineralogist, Deodat Gratet de Dolomieu. He noticed the mineral of the Italian Alps was similar to limestone due to its sedimentary properties. However, it was different as it does not react in acid like other minerals of its kind. Thus he discovered a new mineral and named it after himself.


The Dolomites are also known as the “Pale Mountains” due to their unique pale color, especially when the sun rises and sets. One legend states that the princess of the moon fell in love with the prince of the mountains. When the princess felt homesick, the prince asked his servants to cover the mountains in moon silk. When they did, the silk caused the mountains to glow and cured the princess’ homesickness.

Mountain Formation

Archaeologists have discovered marine fossils that indicate the Dolomite mountains were once underwater. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the mountains were once part of an atoll in the ocean, formed via sedimentation during the Permian Period nearly 280 million years ago. Since that time, the ocean waters have receded and the atoll has shifted, weathered and eroded to become the mesmerizing Dolomite mountains we see today.

Dolomite Mountains
Dolomite Mountains I Photo Credit: Simon Migaj


The Italian Dolomite region contains three main languages including German, Italian and Ladin.


The people who live in the Dolomite Mountain region are incredibly skilled artisans. Many have deep family traditions that teach techniques and precision which date back to the Middle Ages. Artisans hand-craft baskets, pipes, bagpipes et cetera.

Blacksmiths at work
Blacksmiths at work


The Dolomite Mountains were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2009 for its unique biodiversity.

The Ladin People

Seasonal hunters used to come and go from the Dolomite valleys. However, the Ladin people were among the first permanent inhabitants of the hilly region. In 1905, the Union Ladina was formed to raise awareness of the Ladin population diversity and culture. World War I was devastating to the people as they lived very close to the battlefront. Since those dark days, however, the Ladin people have built museums, institutions, schools and printed newspapers in the Ladin language to empower their diversity and culture.

Traditional Cabins

The Ladin people love nature and either live in or commute to and from cabins speckled across the Dolomite valleys. Some cabins are placed strategically, in the same spots where cattle would huddle during lightning storms. Though trees have fallen due to Mother Nature’s lightning, the meticulously placed cabins have not.

Cabins are sprinkled across the valleys
Cabins are sprinkled across the valleys

Ice Mummy

One of the most famous residents of the Dolomite Mountains is Otzi.  Otzi is a  snow mummy who lived almost 5,000 years ago. German hikers came across Otzi’s frozen remains in 1991. He was remarkably preserved and has shone light on what life was like many years ago. Intrigued? Read more about Otzi.

The Via Ferrata

The Dolomite Mountains have been scarred with the Via Ferrata or “iron paths”. The paths were created in World War I to assist the Italian military units as they traveled through the mountains to fight their enemies. The paths were used again in World War II. Today, the path is still lined with wire cables, ladders and beaten paths – thus the name, Iron Paths. The battles fought along those paths in World Wars I and II involved not just combat, but fighting the harsh, natural climates of the mountains as well. Trenches, dugouts and other relics can be found as a testimony and memorial of the fighting that took place along the Via Ferrata. Read more about the Via Ferrata.

Take Time to Explore

As you can see, the Dolomite Mountains have a rich history and culture. Experience it first-hand on the Alpenwild Dolomite Hiking trip of a lifetime.

See you on the trail! 

Hiking in the Dolomites
Hiking in the Dolomites


Emily Jones
Latest posts by Emily Jones (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest Alpenwild news. You're free to opt out at any time.