UNESCO natural world heritage
Dolomites - Natural Heritage

On 26th June 2009, a date which has gone down in Dolomite history and that of the regions and areas encompassed by it, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO inserted nine specific Dolomite areas in the provinces of Bolzano, Trento, Belluno, Udine and Pordenone in the list of UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites. It is a list which then consisted of 962 sites across the world but which has now risen to 1073 (February 2018). Italy takes 1st place in this prestigious list with 53 sites - followed on this virtual podium by China with 52 and Spain with 46 - and, of these, the Dolomites are one of the largest as well as one of very few, together with the Aeolian Islands and Monte San Giorgio, to fall into the ‘natural’ category. For UNESCO, which makes its decisions on extremely careful and rigorous grounds, the Dolomites are to be considered superlative natural phenomena of exceptional importance and beauty as well as an extraordinary testimony to one of the earth’s most important historical phases. These are words which overshadow the fact that, for this same safeguarding and protection body, the Dolomites are an opportunity “to admire one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world”. San Vigilio di Marebbe and San Martino in Badia are in the heart of the northern Dolomites and underneath the Puez Odle massif, two of the areas encompassed by the UNESCO Dolomites heritage site. The spectacular characteristics which make the Dolomites so unique worldwide are manifold. Their isolated peaks, pinnacles, spires and towers rising from level surfaces like full-blown natural monuments; mountain massifs melded together into boundless panoramas of austere, poetic beauty; some of the highest calcareous rock faces in the world, which have long enchanted those who encounter them and which prompted British philosopher and politician Edmund Burke to declare in 1757 that: “No work of art can be great, but as it deceives; to be otherwise is the prerogative of nature only”. We might add that the Dolomites are precisely the best embodiment of this.