South Tyrol 29 June 2009
The spectacular mountain range of the Dolomites in South Tyrol, northern Italy, was awarded a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List on Friday 26 June 2009, joining the likes of the Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal.
Nestled in the Italian Alps north of the Veneto and south of the Austrian Tyrol, the Dolomites are the highest coral reef in the world, and their jagged peaks are widely regarded as being one of the world's most attractive mountain landscapes. The Dolomites were formed around 90 million years ago, when the landmasses that are now Europe and Africa came together and pushed the Alps up out of the sea.
Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, considered one of the world's greatest ever climbers, explained why he was so excited about the campaign. "I've been extremely supportive of the idea since the beginning because I believe the Dolomites are completely unique - they cannot be compared to any other mountain in the world," said Reinhold Messner, who has been climbing in the Dolomites for six decades. "Their beauty derives from the contrast between the green of the meadows and the vertical rock faces and the composition of the rock itself, which changes color throughout the day. Each mountain in the range has its own unique, recognizable face and its own peculiar characteristics."
With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the Dolomites offer a playground for outdoor enthusiasts in both summer and winter. In winter the well-known ski resorts of Alta Badia, Plan de Corones/Kronplatz and Val Gardena/Gröden, boast easy access to the world's largest ski network, Dolomiti Superski (dolomitisuperski.com), which features 12 skiing areas and 1,200kms of pistes, with many interlinked circuits, all available on one single pass. In summer, the Dolomites and their large pastures provide a natural home for active summer pursuits as diverse as rock climbing, Nordic walking, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, white water rafting and horse riding.
For more information about the Dolomites and South Tyrol visit www.suedtirol.info.
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