Since prehistory the area has been inhabited, in particular the hills around the valley where nowadays lies Meran. An ancient history that includes Roman settlements and the domain of the Counts of Tyrol, throughout the years the city became more and more important for its economy, its position and, from the second half of 19th century, its touristic attractions especially as health resort, culture and entertainment holiday destination.
During Roman period the area was called Maia, a toponym that still remains in the name of some places like the beautiful Maia Alta. Latin colonisation lasted about four centuries from the first half of 1st century AD until to 400. It was in this period that was built a fortified settlement on castle San Zeno crag. Later Christian religion spread in the area, therefore
a great number of churches was built in this period such as San Pietro sopra Quarazze, considered one of the first churches erected in the city. It was under the domain of the Counts of Tyrol, around 13th century, that Meran had a significant moment of development. Most of the buildings of the city were built under Albert III and, Count of Tyroland Meinhard II of Tyrol-Gorizia. Among the most important constructions there is the arcade of old town and the so-called powder deposit, that between 15th and 18th century was used to store gun powder, munitions and explosives.
It was mainly Leopold III of Austria, count of Tyrol from 1365, who helped the commercial growth of the city giving it special privileges.
In 1420 the headquarter of the Counts of Tyrol was moved to Innsbruck and was also transferred the mint that since 1274 thanks to Rudolf of Habsburg had the right to produce the money of the reign. This turned Merano into a provincial town.
For centuries the city had a marginal role both in economy and politics until 1809 when Andrea Hofer, a patriot from Tyrol, led the insurrections against Napoleon and Bavaria that since 1805 had obtained Tyrol from France. The rebellion was finally crushed by the numerical superiority of French-Bavarian military force and Hofer was processed and executed.
During the second halfof19th century the city became a health resort and holiday destination. A great number of famous people and notables came here to enjoy mild climate and hot springs. The contribution of Johann Nepomuk Huber, personal doctor of princess Mathilde von Schwarzenberg, who stated the beneficial properties of healthy air, mild temperatures, whey and of the grape of the region. Also the creation of suitable facilities, first of all the Kurhaus built in 1874, helped to draw personalities such as empress Elisabeth of Austria, Franz Kafka and many others.