Empress Sisi of Austria & her stay at Hotel Bavaria
Empress Sisi – a valued guest at Villa Bavaria in Merano/Meran
Empress Elisabeth "Sisi" of Austria was a welcome guest in Merano / Meran, contributing to the reputation and popularity of the spa town. In 1885 Hotel Bavaria in Merano / Meran was a new villa, rented by her brother, the renowned eye specialist Doctor of Medicine Duke Carl Theodor of Bavaria. He was born in 1839 in Possenhofen near Munich and was Empress Sisi's designated favourite brother - her pet name for him was "Gackel".
Carl Theodor was suffering from a chronic lung disease and was advised to regularly spend time in the South. In 1876 he relocated to Merano / Meran to spend the winters. Empress Sisi, who was two years older than Carl Theodor, visited him there often. In 1885 Carl Theodor rented Villa Bavaria, moved there together with his retinue and practiced as eye doctor in the adjacent Petersburg guesthouse.
The presence of Duke Carl Theodor and Empress Sisi in Merano / Meran shows the good ties of the spa town with Austria, the excellent relationship with the Habsburg family in Vienna and with Bavaria. The town of Merano / Meran honoured both Carl and Sisi with a memorial. Today you can marvel at Empress Sisi in the shape of a white statue, throning in Elisabeth Park on the river promenade and on the Sisi Trail, leading from Trauttmansdorff castle past our Hotel Bavaira to the Merano / Meran Kurhaus.
In our hotel lobby you find a portrait of Empress Sisi just beside the royal Bavarian code of arms with the two lions and a photo of her brother, Duke Carl Theodor of Bavaria.
On the traces of Empress Sisi – leisurely stroll on the Sisi Trail
The Sisi Trail leads past 11 stations, which were visited by the Empress during her various stays in Merano / Meran. Her presence contributed to the touristic upswing of Merano / Meran. As a token of gratitude, the spa town dedicated a permanent exhibition to her in the Touriseum. Sisi and her retune visited the Pienzenau castle in 1870. Some members of her entourage were accommodated in the Rubein castle.
The walking trail, which was named after Empress Sisi, leads from Rubein castle to Reichenbach castle, to Brunnenplatz and then to Rottenstein castle, former property of Empress Sisi's brother in law. The Sisi Trail continues to our Hotel Bavaria and then via the Stone Trail over the Passiria/Passer river, past the "Wandelhalle", an Art-Nouveau-style arcade and to the Sisi Park at the beginning of the promenade. The last section of the trail leads to the Kurhaus on the Passiria/Passer promenade. When Sisi resided in Merano / Meran, she visited the Kurhaus nearly every day.
The life of Empress Sisi
Elisabeth Amelie Eugenie, Duchess of Bavaria, or Empress Sisi, how she was later called lovingly by everyone, was born in Munich in 1837. She was a princess from the House of Wittelsbach and married Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria at the mere age of 17. In 1854 she became Empress of Austria and later Queen of Hungary.
Empress Sisi, a keen traveler, suffered a lung disease, which urged her to live in a mild climate. She used her illness as an occasion to travel and leave the court. Her travels led her to Madeira, Korfu, Hungary, Great Britain, the Osman Empire and finally the spa town Merano / Meran.
Empress Sisi died tragically in Geneva in 1898, murdered by the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni who hammered a nail file into her heart. Empress Sisi owes her international fame and popularity to the movies, which were made about her over the years - the first one from the year 1920 was a silent movie. The most famous movie about her is without doubt the German trilogy from the 1950s with Romy Schneider in the lead role.