Following the traces of history

Visiting World War One sites in the Dolomites

As beautiful as the Dolomites may be, our land and its inhabitants have also lived through difficult times. Where hikers, bikers and nature lovers roam today, soldiers once faced each other. But how did this come about? And what traces of this dark time can history buffs still recognise today?
Following the traces of history
What is the history of WW1 in the Dolomites?
WWI in the Dolomites took place between 1915 and 1918, i.e., in the last three years of the First World War. But who exactly fought in the Dolomites during WW1? The conflict in what is now South Tyrol began when Italy entered the war and declared war on Austria-Hungary. The Dolomite front was a positional war without any major shifts on the front or significant gains on either side. When the war ended in 1918, South Tyrol and Trentino became part of what was then the Kingdom of Italy after having belonged to Tyrol for over 1000 years.

Why was it called the White War?
Staying and fighting in the mountains was particularly hard with the means available at the time. The front consisted of fortresses and fortified positions on passes and mountain heights. They were connected by kilometres of trenches and tunnels. In the mountain war in the Dolomites, more people often died from frostbite and avalanches than from shelling during the exceptionally harsh winters. But not only people were shot at - the Italians even blew up a mountain during the battle of the Alps in WWI! On April 17th of 1916, the Italians blew up the summit of the Col di Lana mountain, which is over 2000 m high, using 5 tonnes of dynamite. This allowed them to take control of the mountain after prolonged fighting.

Open-air museums and hikes
Many World War One sites in the Dolomites are now open-air museums. A visit is always worthwhile and is the ideal destination for anyone who wants to combine a stay in breathtaking nature with interesting historical insights.
The largest open-air museum is located in Cortina and includes the Lagazuoi, the 5 Torri, the Sass de Stria and the Sassi fort. It extends over a radius of 5 kilometres. Guided tours are offered free of charge.
We also recommend the Kaiserjäger Path for experienced hikers with a head for heights. The starting point is the Sassi fort. Over a distance of 3 kilometres, you can visit fortifications, restored rock caves with kitchens and dormitories as well as the World War One trenches. An Austrian suspension bridge has also been faithfully reconstructed and can be walked over. The hike ends at the Falzarego Pass.
The Valparola Pass is also a good starting point for hikes in the footsteps of history. Numerous paths lead to clearly visible trenches and emplacements. The tunnels criss-cross the mountains for kilometres - many are well restored and easy to walk through with hiking equipment, others require a little more stamina.
The Marmolada Great War Museum at 3,000 metres is the highest museum in Europe. Visitors can view artefacts from the war in their original setting. Interactive and multimedia installations allow visitors to put themselves in the shoes of the soldiers. In summer, the tunnels in the surrounding area can also be visited via a short via ferrata - the museum is open all year round and guided tours are also offered.
Until just a few decades ago, you could encounter many hobby historians with metal detectors along these paths, tracking down the many relics such as grenades, wires, and carbines. Today, many of them are on display in museums, but with a bit of luck, hikers can still find one or two relics. Maybe you will too?
Following the traces of history
Following the traces of history
Discovering the traces of the First World War in the Dolomites, whether on hikes or in the World War One museums. Does that sound exciting? Sporthotel Panorama in Corvara in Alta Badia is located in the immediate vicinity of many interesting sites of the Great War and is the ideal starting point for numerous hikes for those interested in history and culture. If a climbing tour is too strenuous for you, you can gain an insight into the mountain war in South Tyrol in the various museums. And, of course, all hikers will be thoroughly spoilt at our hotel after a strenuous day.

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