&noscript=1 /> The Earth Pyramids of Ritten - South Tyrol The Earth Pyramids of Ritten - South Tyrol
Ritten Earth Pyramids: towers of loam and stone
Ritten Earth Pyramids: towers of loam and stone

Day trip destination

Ritten Earth Pyramids

Ritten Earth Pyramids: towers of loam and stone

The Earth Pyramids of Ritten are one of nature's little miracles. These skittle-shaped columns of loam with their rocky hats on the Ritten plateau are considered to be some of the finest in Europe.

Anyone arriving at Oberbozen by means of the Ritten cable car from Bozen will catch sight of them: the earth pyramids. Skittle-shaped heaps of loam sporting large rocks on their tops like hats rise up as if this were perfectly normal. The Earth Pyramids of Ritten can reach 30 metres in height and are considered to be the highest and also shapeliest in Europe.

A phenomenon caused by erosion

Yet how can such a wonder of nature come about? Basically, earth pyramids can only arise in places that used to be glacial. On the Ritten plateau there was once a large glacier with several side glaciers that were responsible for the formation of other earth pyramids in South Tyrol. In the late Ice Age, moraine loam of was left here when the glaciers melted. This special soil has the property of becoming as hard as rock when dry, while it turns into soft slurry when it rains and slips down the hillside.

When boulders are found on this type of soil, earth pyramids are formed. As the boulders shelter the earth beneath them from rain, the earth stays hard. The rest of the soil goes mushy and slides downhill. The rain manages to cut deeper and deeper grooves into the soil, resulting in lots of little earth pyramids. One of the reasons why the Ritten Earth Pyramids are so fascinating to behold is because they lie in an ideal spot in terms of climate: the steep slope that they grew on is sheltered from the wind. In addition, there are alternate periods of heavy rainfall and drought.

Ritten Earth Pyramids: towers of loam and stone

Don't forget a waterproof

As soon as the earth pyramids lose the rocky hats that shelter from the rain, they collapse. This is why the earth pyramids may be admired, but not touched: the risk that a rocky boulder could slip off and destroy the work of a thousand thunder storms is too great. By the way, there are three spots where these earth pyramids may be seen on the Ritten: at Lengmoos in Finsterbachtal valley, slightly above Oberbozen (the ones that may be seen from the cable car) and at Unterinn. There are earth pyramids in other parts of South Tyrol, too – in Terenten, Platten, Mölten, Jenesien, Dorf Tirol and Steinegg.

Walking to the Earth Pyramids

Anyone wishing to view the Earth Pyramids of Ritten close up and not just from the cable car can take advantage of several options: the simplest way leads in ten minutes from the car park in Lengmoos to the viewing platform. This path is especially suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. A similarly family-friendly path leads from Klobenstein to Lengmoos. This excursion destination may be easily reached from Bozen by cable car and the charming Ritten narrow gauge railway.

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Fam. Vigl  | Ritten  (Bolzano and environs)
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Fam. Rottensteiner  | Ritten  (Bolzano and environs)
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Earth Pyramids

Further information

Tourist Information
Via Paese/ Dorfstrasse 5
39054 Collalbo - Renon/Klobenstein - Ritten
Operation Schedules
06:00 - 22:00
description to arrive at destination

By car: Bolzano - Renon ca. 20 km Collalbo/Longomoso. By cablecar & railway: In Bolzano starts every 4 minutes a cable and in only 12 minutes you arrive to Soprabolzano. There starts every halb hour the Renon Train and arrive in 18 minuts to Collalbo. After a walk for 30 minuts you arrive to the view points of the earth pyramids.

General description

The Renon earth pyramids are the highest and the most aesthetically pleasing in Europe. Earth pyramids are a phenomenon of erosion. They originate where ice-age glaciers have deposited moraine clay in valleys. When it is dry, it is rock-hard. If it comes into contact with water, it turns into a clayey pulp that flows down into the valley. However, when protected from the rain by large stones, the clay remains dry and hard. Only the part around the stone erodes. This is how earth columns are formed and become higher each time it rains. If the top stone falls off the peak, the column is certainly doomed to a quick decline because the clay is exposed to the rain and then carried away by it. The earth pyramids on the Renon can be marvelled at in three ravines: in the Rio Fosco valley between Longomoso and S. Maria, in the Rio Rivellone valley below Soprabolzano and in the valley of the Rio Gasterer at Auna di Sotto.