MERAN, the chief town of the administrative district of the same name in the Austrian province of the Tirol, 20 m. by rail N.W. of Botzeiuon the Brenner line, while the Vintschgau railway connects it with Mais, 37 m. N.W. It is the chief town in the upper Adige valley, a region which bears the special name of the Vintschgau, and is on the high road either to Landeck and the Lower Engadine by the Reschen Scheideck Pass (4902 ft.), or more directly to the Lower Engadine by the Minister valley and the Ofen Pass (7071 ft.). In 1900 Meran had 9284 inhabitants (or, with the neighbouring villages of Untermais and Obermais, 13,201), mainly German-speaking and Romanist. The town is picturesquely situated, at a height of 1001 ft., at the foot of the vine-clad Kiichelberg, and on the right bank of the Passer River, just above its junction with the Adige or Etsch. Meran proper consists mainly of one long narrow street, the Laubengasse, flanked by covered arcades, but the name is often used to include several adjacent villages, Untermais and Obermais being on the left bank of the Passer, while Gratsch is on its right bank and north-west of the main town. The most noteworthy buildings are the parish church (14th to 1sth centuries) and the old residence (iSth century) of the counts of the Tirol. Meran is best known as a much-frequented resort for consumptive patients, for whom it is well suited by reason of the purity of the air and the comparative immunity of the place from wind and rain in the winter. It is also visited in spring for the whey cure and in autumn for the grape cure.
To the north-west, on the Kiichelberg, is the half-ruined castle of Tirol (2096 ft.), the original seat of the family which gave its name to the county. Meran may have been built on the site of a Roman settlement, but is first mentioned in 857. From the 12th century to about 1420 it was the capital of the ever-extending land named after it Tirol, but then had to give way to Innsbruck, while the building of the Brenner railway (1864-1867) and the rise of Botzen have decreased its commercial importance.
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)