Sissi's Path
Strolling the imperial trail through Merano
Sissi's Path

Sissi's Path

Strolling the imperial trail through Merano


The most famous and popular theme trail in Merano/Meran is the Sissi Path, dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. This walking path connects the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle with the city center over eleven stages and sights.

Sissi or Sisi?

Differing interpretations mean a preference for differing forms: Historians opt for Sisi or Lisi while, to guests from non-German speaking regions and film buffs the world over, the Empress is known only as Sissi. For this reason, the double-'s' form, is generally used in Merano.

The sights

1. Kurpromenade and Kurhaus
To see and be seen
Since 1850, the Kurpromenade has been the hub of Merano. Until 1918, it was called the Gisela Promenade in honor of Empress Elisabeth's daughter. Sissi could be seen almost every day at the Kurhaus spas with Gisela and her younger sister, Duchess Sophie of Alençon.

Centerpiece of the spa town
With the opening of the Kurhaus in 1874, Merano had a new attraction. In 1914, the neoclassical building was expanded in the decorative Art Nouveau style based on the plans of renowned Viennese architect Friederich Ohmann, who had designed, among other things, the Hofburg in Vienna.

2. Elisabeth Park
A majestic trail
Planting of cedar, pine and linden began along these walkways in 1860. On the occasion of the Austrian court's visit in 1870, the park was named after Empress Elisabeth's daughter Marie Valerie. In the following years, it was adorned with trick fountains and a music pavilion. Today it is called Elisabeth Park, and is part of the Summer Promenade. On hot summer days, the park offers pleasant freshness. The marble statue of the Empress by Viennese artist Hermann Klotz was unveiled in 1903.
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3. The Wandelhalle
Promenading throughout the year
Dr Franz Tappeiner contributed this covered Art Nouveau arcade to the Winter Promenade in 1889. The busts, plaques and large pictures here honor those significant to the history of the spa town.
Patients happily visited the sunny, wind-shielded promenade in the course of their therapy, particularly in winter. The Summer Promenade extends on the op-posite side of the Passer River.

4. Ponte Romano

Overpass for strolling
Since the late 19th century, this bridge has provided a comfortable connection between the greenery of Maia Alta and Merano’s town center. It replaced a narrow, wooden 17th century bridge, making it the oldest crossing of the Passer River. Upstream, across the river gorge, stands historic Zenoburg Castle.
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5. Hotel Bavaria
Reminiscence of Bavaria
Two lions flank the entrance to this hotel. The Bavarian coat of arms’ animals recall Karl Theodor, Sissi’s favorite brother. The Bavarian Duke was held in high esteem in Merano and the surrounding area: as an optician, he provided free operations to the needy, granting eyesight to many.

6. Rottenstein Castle
(privately owned)
Accommodation by rank
Here too, at her brother-in-law’s castle, Sissi spent one of her stays in Merano. First documented in the late 13th century, Rottenstein Castle was acquired in 1863 by Archduke Karl Ludwig, Governor of Tyrol and brother of Emperor Franz Josef.
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7. Piazza Fontana
Courtly hospitality
In the first decades of the 19th century, the early days of the health resort industry, lodging was scarce in Merano; the noble patients stayed mainly in the medieval residences of the present-day quarter of Maia Alta. In 1869, Merano’s first hotel (the Erzherzog Rainer) was built at Piazza Fontana, which was named after Sissi’s brother-in-law Karl Ludwig.

8. Reichenbach Residence
(privately owned)
A therapeutic domicile
The attractiveness of a health resort depends greatly on the reputation of its doctors. Merano’s renowned physician Dr Franz Tappeiner resided in this 14thcentury abode from 1854 to 1902. He served as medical advisor to Mayor Johann Valentin Haller, and in this capacity was one of the pioneers of the health resort business. Moreover, he conceived and co-financed the Tappeiner Trail overlooking Merano.

9. Rubein Castle
(privately owned)
A fabulous refuge
This castle, completed in the 12th century, stands in the center of an expanded park. Upon Sissi’s visit in autumn 1870, her royal entourage of 102 people was quartered here, at present-day Via Christomannos. Incidentally, Theodor Christomannos played a large role in the development of tourism in the Dolomites. His cousin Constantine was Sissi’s courtly reader and constant companion for many year.

10. Pienzenau Castle
(privately owned)
Hidden treasure
The path to this castle (first documented in 1394) leads past a lush park with venerable sequoias, cedars and pines. In 1870, when Empress Elisabeth and her atten-dants first arrived in Merano, Pienzenau’s outbuildings were restructured to house her sizeable fleet of vehicles and 27 horses brought from Vienna. In addition, a special telegraphic connection between Pienzenau Castle, Rubein Castle and Trauttmansdorff Castle was established.
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11. The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle & the Touriseum (universally accessible)
Blossoming gardens and eventful tourism history
Since 2001, the sunny slopes above Merano have been home to the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, where plants from all over the world thrive in over 80 garden landscapes. Rebuilt by Count Trauttmansdorff from medieval ruins in 1850, the imposing castle towering majestically in their midst today houses the Touriseum, South Tyrol’s Museum of Tourism. Tourism in Merano first began to flower after Empress Sissi’s sojourns, to whom a permanent exhibition is now dedicated.
Empress Elisabeth also left her own mark on the Gardens, where her “delightful footpaths, scattered with fine gravel” today lead through the steep white-oak woods to Matteo Thun’s Viewing Platform, and where, on Sundays in early summer, a sublime Breakfast at Sissi’s is offered on the stately Sissi Terrace. Moreover, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle are part of Sisi’s Road, a cul-tural route of 1,400 kilometers tracing Her Majesty’s steps through six countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Switzerland).
A unique blend of botanical garden and recreational facility, Trauttmansdorff’s successful combination of nature, culture and art – together with its distinctive spirit of innovation – has garnered it several major awards, as well as recognition well beyond the borders of South Tyrol.