Short & crisp
The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff are very well known and popular in the alpine region around Merano and Bolzano. Various events and activities on the subject of gardens take place here on a regular basis.
If you look at it closely, the gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle are actually the botanical garden of the city of Meranoin the middle of which is the castle. Of course, "Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle" just sounds nicer.
The gardens were built in the current form opened in 2001. The castle is especially Spa stays of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth became well known. The current area has a size of 12 hectares and has a beautifully laid out network of paths, which is a total of 7 kilometers long and which overcome a difference in altitude of 100 meters. The owner of the gardens is the city of Bolzano, which is the operator of the Provincial Museums and thus the Trauttmansdorff Castle with its Touriseum is part of it as a museum.
of the castle
In 1327, Neuberg Castle was first mentioned in a document on the site of today's castle, which, however, must have already been built around 1300. This can be seen above all in the coats of arms of the noble houses, which were painted on the ceiling in the vestibule and suggest that these are the noble houses in whose possession the castle was at that time. According to these paintings, the castle was owned by the noble Angerheim family from 1307 to 1354, followed by the von Suppan family with Jakop Suppan of Taransberg until 1399, the Feigenstein from 1400 to 1488 and the Zwingensteins until 1537. The noble family of Trauttmansdorff then bought the castle in 1543 and Franz von Trauttmansdorff then had the castle considerably enlarged. However, the line of this family died out and so the castle passed to the nobles of Stachelburg in 1697, in whose possession it remained until 1729. In the 18th century, after the ownership had changed once again, the castle then visibly decayed. In 1777 the tower of the castle chapel collapsed. Under the following Bavarian rule, the property was sold to farmers in 1805.
Joseph von Trauttmansdorff, Count of Styria, then bought the already dilapidated castle in 1847 and brought it back into family ownership after 150 years. He extended the castle again and built some neo-Gothic elements into the castle and thus the now renamed "Trauttmansdorff Castle" became a model for many neo-Gothic castles in South Tyrol.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria visited the castle for the first time in 1870 for a spa stay. Together with her two daughters Gisela and Marie Valerie, she occupied the entire upper floor of the castle. The Austrian newspapers watched the imperial family at every turn and were able to report that Marie Valerie was feeling better after only a short time. This made the town of Merano famous as a health resort. Empress Sissi visited the spa town again as early as 1889.
Moritz von Leon, the imperial knight who had inherited as the illegitimate son of Joseph von Trauttmansdorff in 1867, however, had to gradually sell his possessions and thus Trauttmansdorff Castle passed into the possession of the Gyulay family. After the Gyulay family went bankrupt, the castle became the property of Friedrich von Deuster. He extended the castle, laid out orchards and gardens and thus gave the castle a new splendour. With the beginning of the First World War, however, the heyday of the castle came to an abrupt end, which was mainly due to the fact that South Tyrol and thus also the castle were located directly on the front line.
The fascist regime expropriated the owner after the First World War and gave it to a relief fund for Italian soldiers, the Opera Nazionale per i Combattenti. The castle, now called Castel di Nova, was then used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.
After the end of the war the castle stood empty and the Italian relief fund was looking for a buyer. After the dissolution of the relief fund, the castle then fell to the South Tyrolean provincial administration, which found a use for it in 1990: The Provincial Museum of Tourism, or Touriseum, was opened inside and the botanical garden was created around the castle.
The gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle were awarded the title of Italy's most beautiful garden in 2005.
The different gardens
On the 12 hectare large area 80 garden landscapes were created, which are thematically divided into 4 garden worlds and flow into each other:
The tranquil forest gardens display exotic miniature forests from America and Asia, the warm sun gardens enchant visitors with their Mediterranean ambience, the typical landscapes of South Tyrol provide an insight into the local nature around the castle and the impressive water and terrace gardens present European garden architecture with staircases and watercourses.
Likewise, various animal species have found a home here. So you can find parrots playing in the aviaries, dwarf goats in the "petting zoo" and trusting koi in the lily pond at various places in the gardens.
As a further addition, you will find curious details, works of art and attractions at various points in the gardens. These invite you to participate, marvel and pause.
The more than 20 themed gardens also feature varied collections of ornamental plants that will make the heart of any garden enthusiast beat faster.
A special attraction is the Australian "Wollemie", a specimen of a conifer species that was only discovered in 1994 and is extremely rare in nature. In 2006, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle were the first botanical garden in Italy to exhibit this plant species.
All these "eye-catchers" are connected by a 7 km long network of paths. You can simply drift along these or follow the four signposted circular routes of varying lengths to ensure that you don't miss any of the 4 themed worlds. You can also choose a panoramic path and follow it (depending on the level of difficulty) up the slope and enjoy the beautiful view of the Merano countryside from above.
If you need to relax after all the walking and hiking, you can rest at one of the resting points. Here you will find, for example, a picnic area with benches and tables, a palm beach with sun loungers and next to the lake stage with sun loungers at the water lily pond a lot more.
The gardens are designed to be barrier-free. Although not every path is equipped without stairs, the theme worlds can always be reached via a barrier-free path - which may be slightly longer. As the gardens are located on a slope and some of the paths lead up the slope, slopes of up to 30% are to be expected. So if you want to enjoy the panorama, you should have an electric drive with you or possibly a very strong companion. The view from the top is really wonderful, especially of the surrounding mountains, and the climb is definitely worth it. We therefore recommend in any case to bring a towing device with appropriate power. There are signs at certain points if the trail has a particularly steep incline.
Parts of the castle are also designed to be barrier-free and a large part can be reached by lifts or specially installed lifts. For example, the Touriseum can also be visited with a wheelchair.
There is also a barrier-free toilet in the entrance area.
The car park is on the opposite side of the road, where a total of 7 disabled parking spaces are available free of charge. The gardens are reached through the entrance building and a bridge over the busy road.
Once a year, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle also offer an open day for people with disabilities. On this day, wheelchair users and an accompanying person can visit the gardens free of charge. It is worth checking the events page here regularly.
Events & functions
In addition to the gardens themselves, events are also held in the gardens. Very popular are the concerts and events around the lake stage and the lily pond, which usually take place in summer. Also, every now and then there is the possibility to participate in a picnic event at the lily pond.
You can find more about the program here:
Merano city centre to Trauttmansdorff Castle
We have already reported on Empress Elisabeth's enthusiasm for Merano and Trauttmansdorff Castle. Therefore, it is of course not far-fetched that the Italian city has come up with something more. For example, there is a hiking trail that leads from the city center to the castle, which can also be used with strollers or wheelchairs. To emphasize the empress, this hiking trail was called Sissi-Weg, which we find a bit exaggerated - but that's marketing.
But the way leads comfortably through the city and one gets to know it a little better. Moreover, it does not make sense to drive from the oldtown by car to the castle when there is a well developed hiking trail.