One of the most astonishingly beautiful projects to emerge out of the picturesque cliffs of South Tyrol, northern Italy, in the past decade has to be the Messner Mountain Museums; a network of six epic rock-side structures, built out of one man's love for the landscape.
Envisioned by legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner, the first man to climb Mount Everest sans oxygen and scale all 14 "eight thousanders" (peaks over 8,000 metres above sea level), The Messner Mountain Museums have been an ongoing project created as an homage to nature, geology, architecture, high-altitude culture and human achievement.
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Situated atop the South Tyrol clifftops, the five locations include: MMM Firmian (Sigmundskrpn Castle), the flagship venue which looks to mountaineering and alpine tourism history; MMM Juval (Juval Castle) a dedication to the most mystical and religiously-held mountains (including Ayers rock) and also features a zoo and a restaurant; MMM Dolomites, "The Museum in the Clouds", which has 360-degree panoramic views and a focus on geology and contemporary art; MMM Ortles, the ice and glacier themed museum and MMM Ripa, which is focused on the culture, religion and the people of the mountains worldwide.
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This week, the sixth and final structure opened, a gloriously modern design by starchitect Zaha Hadid, whose $2 billion design for Tokyo's 2020 Olympic stadium was sadly, and controversially, scrapped.
A whopping 2,275 metres above sea level, on the summit of Mount Kronplat, Messner selected the site himself, stating that was "a true melting pot of the region's Ladin, Italian, and German-speaking population."
Complete with incredible panoramic views across the Dolomites, the structure itself is literally built into the landscape, integrating the area's rocky structure in the most beautiful way. Like its sister structures, the MMM Corones is also themed; this time, devoted to alpine history and the "supreme discipline of mountaineering".