Trauttmansdorff Castle is mainly known nowadays for its wonderful gardens, where a huge variety of flowers, trees, herbs and shrubs
can be admired. While the castle can look back on a long and turbulent history, since 2003 it has accommodated the Touriseum,
the South Tyrol museum for the history of tourism.
The small castle of Neuberg was built around 1300 on the site of today’s castle. This was acquired and extended by the noble Trauttmansdorff family in 1543. This line of the Trauttmansdorffs sadly died out and the castle fell into ruin until the 18th century. In 1846 another Trauttmansdorff, Joseph von Trauttmansdorff, bought the castle and restored it to its former glory, and it has since been known as Trauttmansdorff Castle. After the death of Joseph, the imperial knight Moritz von Leon (possibly an illegitimate son of Joseph) inherited the castle. The castle and the city of Merano were however made particularly famous by a lady, namely the Austrian Empress Elisabeth (Sisi)
, who in 1870 spent a vacation at the castle in order to take the cure with her daughters Gisela and Marie Valerie. The rapid recovery of Maria Valerie established the reputation of Merano as a spa resort. In 1889 Elisabeth returned to stay at the castle.
After its sale to Friedrich von Deuster of Kitzingen, the castle was enlarged and the gardens laid. During the First World War the castle stood not far from the front, and after the war it was expropriated by the Italians for administration and use by a relief fund for soldiers. In the Second World War it was used by the German army and was afterwards returned to the Italian relief fund. Since 1990 the South Tyrolean provincial administration has been responsible for Trauttmansdorff Castle, where the Touriseum was subsequently opened. It tells the 200-year story of tourism in the region from the perspective of both visitors and locals.
The botanical gardens
were created in the surrounding landscape, with dwarf shrubs, olive trees, grape vines and much more besides: the rhododendrons, roses and lavender all emit a wonderful scent. The gardens’ twelve hectares
contain four interconnected zones. Paths lead up the slopes via water and terrace gardens. There is a garden for meditation, a Japanese garden and a semi-desert with succulents (juice-filled plants such as cacti). Eleven pavilions, designed by artists, are worthy of a visit, as are the aviary and the multimedia show in the grotto. The whole complex was in 2005 awarded the title of “Most Beautiful Gardens in Italy”
The ideal time for a visit is from March until November.