MERANO | TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE
Merano - Meran, Province of Bolzano, Trentino Alto Adige, Italy, Merano - Meran is probably best known as a spa resort, the second biggest city of the province (after Bozen-Bolzano) and located inside a basin, surrounded by mountains (1500-3335 m), at the entrance to the Passeiertal-Val Passiria, the Vinschgau-Val Venosta and the Ultental-Val d'Ultimo valleys. In the past, this idyllic town has been a popular place of residence for many famous scientists and doctors, who appreciated the mild, Mediterranean climate and the healthy air.
Meran was the capital of the Tyrol county from 1418 to 1848. When Friedrich IV moved the court to Innsbruck in 1420, Merano quickly lost its predominant position and its importance as an economic hub. Only the Tyrolean struggle for freedom of 1809 drew a lot of attention again: on the Küchelberg above Meran the Tyroleans eked out a victory against the French and the Bavarians.
HISTORY OF MERANO
Once the home of the ancient Retic tribes, then an important transit centre, later a fortified Medieval town, Merano was chosen as capital of the then Tyrol region from the thirteenth century on and also administrative centre of the Burgraviate area stretching from Tel at the opening of the Venosta valley to Gargazzone in the Adige valley. The town retained its title as capital even when the new Counts of Tyrol moved their administration offices and the civic mint to Innsbruck in the fifteenth century but, then no longer politically nor economically important, Merano then later became simply a popular residential centre for the Tyrolean nobility who chose to build their sumptuous residences here in the sixteenth century. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many refugees from the Grigioni area arrived in Merano to escape from religious persecution in their homeland. The nineteenth century marked the rebirth of the town when some of the local doctors together with an attentive town administration proposed Merano as a health spa and it soon became one of the most popular resorts in Central Europe. 324 metres above sea level, protected by the mountains from the cold north, the town has a delightfully mild climate and, soon, Hapsburg, Prussian, English, French and Russian nobility and aristocracy graced the resort with their presence.
Luxurious hotels and elegant public buildings were to be seen everywhere and it seemed that nothing could go wrong until the First World War broke out in 1914 and everything came to a temporary halt. It was necessary to re-promote the town between the two wars but the discovery of the health-giving radio-active waters at Monte San Vigilio helped until,once again, development was interrupted by the start of the Second World War. Merano has slowly regained its name as a health spa and tourist centre in recent years. Its elegant buildings and beautiful gardens and parks help make the town truly unique in the whole Alpine region.
Merano boasts some of the most beautiful examples Liberty-style buildings in the whole SudTirol Area:
- The Civic Theatre, dedicated to the famous composer Puccini, was designed in 1900 by Martin Düfler.
- The Post Office Bridge with its wonderfully ornate Liberty-style golden railings was built in 1906 and recently restored in 1993.
- The Kurhaus, a magnificent building, designed by Vienna architect Friedrich Ohmann in 1914, is, without doubt, the loveliest example of Liberty-style architecture in the entire Alpine region. The great hall holds over 1,000 people and is equipped to host international congresses, conferences, exhibitions and concerts.. The adjacent elegant Pavillon des Fleurs, built in 1874, has seating for 300.
After World War I, Merano became part of Italy with the rest of the Alto Adige, but unlike Bolzano the plans of the fascist regime to assimilate the German speaking citizens by settling a majority of citizens from other parts of the Italian kingdom failed because of skillful negotations of the city administration led by Baron Marcart. After 1945, it became one of the main tourist sites in the region.