A short history of Trauttmansdorff Castle
In 1300 there was a small fortress called Neuburg on the site of the present-day castle. The
thick walls belonging to this original medieval construction can still be seen on the southwest
side of the building. Around 1500, Nikolaus von Trauttmansdorff, a soldier in the service of the Habsburgs, bought this small fortress and turned it into a castle. A number of coats of arms and frescos inside the castle date from his time.
In 1846 Count Josef von Trauttmansdorff from Styria arrived in Meran and rediscovered the
castle abandoned by his ancestors 150 years earlier. He bought the half-ruined building,
restored and enlarged it to its present size and gave it a neo-Gothic appearance.
Attracted by the sunny location, the Austrian Empress Elisabeth spent seven months here in the winter of 1871. She and her two daughters, Gisela and Marie Valerie, occupied
the top floor of the building. The Empress's retinue of 102 staff was accommodated in nearby
stately homes and castles. In September 1889 Elisabeth came on a second visit to Trauttmansdorff. The “lady in black” as Sissi was now called, lived withdrawn from society and rarely left the castle. Eight months earlier her son, Crown Prince Rudolf, had committed suicide in Mayerling.
In 1892, Baron Friedrich von Deuster, a major landowner from Kitzingen near Würzburg, bought the castle. He laid out orchards and gardens around Trauttmansdorff Castle and built a large neo-rococo hall over the east wing of the castle. After the First World War, the property of Friedrich von Deuster, like that of other German nationals, was confiscated. Trauttmansdorff Castle and the farms belonging to the estate came
into the possession of the “Opera Nazionale per i Combattenti” (ONC), a charitable
foundation for Italian veterans.
When the ONC was dissolved in 1977, the dilapidated castle and estates formerly belonging to
von Deuster became the property of the South Tyrol provincial administration.
In 1990, after much discussion, a new role was found for the property. The castle grounds
were converted at great expense into a series of botanical gardens, which opened in the
summer of 2001. The castle itself was fully restored and adapted to house the South Tyrol
Museum of Tourism, which opened in 2003.