In 1836, the Viennese physician Dr. Josef Huber published an article on the therapeutic effects of the air in Merano/Meran. Soon afterward, the first wealthy spa guests began to arrive and tourism grew at a rapid pace, especially after the Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary discovered the mild sunny winter climate of Merano and chose to spend the cold season at the local Trauttmansdorff Castle.
On the streets and squares of Merano the Central European spirit still predominates. The splendid Art Nouveau buildings tell of the illustrious past of the health resort, favored by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary and a number of prominent aristocrats and intellectuals for treatments. Apart from its architecture the town is also notable for its green areas, including beautiful walks and promenades such as the Tappeinerweg trail, but also the many parks and gardens which lend the spa town its special charm. The pleasant climate gives rise to Mediterranean vegetation surrounded by an Alpine environment. Palms, cypresses and rhododendrons alternate with pine and fir trees, within the city as well as at the internationally renowned Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle.
Where once intellectuals from across Europe such as Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig and Franz Liszt chose to stay in Merano for its pure air and mineral springs, today the town along the Passer river has a high standard of accommodation and recreational facilities, as well a full schedule of cultural events throughout the year. Moreover, Merano has great culinary offerings as well as excellent spa facilities like the Terme Merano thermal baths close to the old town. There, medieval arcades invite visitors to enjoy shopping and relaxation in the numerous cafes.