History of Merano


See Merano guide for highlights and historic monuments

Merano is an ancient city dating from Roman times, when it was known as "Statio Maiensis' (“station”, “borderland Maia”).

They tell us that, in the Later Middle Ages, the city was also known as:

"Castrum Maiense", located in "Maia, near Meran" [1].

Merano is attested to in some historical documents by 857 AD, under the various names "Mairania", "Mairanio", "Mairani" and finally "Merano" (1251).

In the early Middle Ages it belonged to the Counts of Venosta, who then became the Counts of Tyrol, who answered to the Bishop of Trent. Due to its strategic location, the village became an important merchant town, and in the 13th century Merano became the capital of the County, and the seat of a famous Mint.

In the second half of the 14th century the Habsburgs-Tyrol moved the ducal seat to Innsbruck, and this coincided with a period of decline of the city, exacerbated by the floods that affected it several times.

A major urban transformation was carried out in the 19th century; however, the works did not compromise the old city, the centre of which is the ideal Gothic cathedral, dedicated to St. Nicholas. The mild climate, clean air and the presence of mineral springs since antiquity caused the area to be well known and appreciated for its natural characteristics.

The tourist activity, linked above all to the thermal baths, began in the early 19th century. The mineral water, which flows from Mount St. Virgil, and that is the basis of thermal treatments applied in Merano, has therapeutic qualities for the osteo-arthritis and many pathologies of the osteo-muscular apparatus.

Origins of the name Merano

As regards the etymology, there is substantial agreement among scholars, for whom the name derives from the family name "Marius", accompanied by the suffix “-anum”, indicating 'the property of'. So "Meran" would mean "place belonging to Marius" [2].

Also for Johannes Kramer [3], who in turn refers to GB Pellegrini, Merano derives from “Marius + anum”. Other scholars, on the basis of the studies of Schneller [4], suggested, instead, the hypothesis that the place-name of Merano has its roots within the Pre-Latin term "Marra" or "heap of stones" or "Mara" ("stream"). But the proposal of Schneller was described as "unsafe" by Carlo Battisti [5].

An interesting hypothesis was formulated in the 19th century by Alber Gatschet [6], who observed that the name “Merano”, by a series of name transformations, could mean "shepherds huts".

See also Merano when planning your visit.

References

1. See Louise Fresco, “Le Haute Adige-Tyrol de Sud” , Editions des Cahiers de l'Alpe" 1988:110

2. See P. Passarelli, “The Towns of Italy”, Trentino Alto Adige, Italian Encyclopedic Institute, 2007: 74

3. “Sive Padi ripis Athesis”, Busche-Verlag, 1991: 295

4. “Tirolische Namenforschungen”[ “Research about the names of Tyrol”], 1890: 96 ff.

5. See, “Miscellanea di studi linguistici in onore di E. Tolomei”, Olschki, 1953: 94

6. “Ortsetymologische Forschungen” [“Etymological Research about Places”], Haller, 1867: 304