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Oberammergau

Oberammergau is a small village in Germany, best known for its world-famous Passion Play, long woodcarving tradition, and painted buildings.

This village is situated in a scenic valley among the stunning Ammergau Alps, making it a paradise for nature lovers.

It’s a place where modern life meets tradition; hence, you can spot residents roaming around wearing colorful folk costumes on holidays. 

Besides its tradition, this town is most widely known for its Oberammergau Passion Play which takes place once a decade. 

Where is Oberammergau located?

Situated in the southern part of the country, it is nestled within the picturesque Ammergau Alps.

The village surrounds by breathtaking natural beauty, with rolling hills, lush forests, and stunning mountain peaks creating a captivating backdrop.

Its idyllic location makes it a popular destination for locals and tourists seeking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Bavarian region.

Oberammergau Map

The Oberammergau Passion Play

The Oberammergau Passion Play
Image: Wikimedia.org

Since 1633, the residents of the village put on a Passion Play that depicts the life of Jesus and attracts thousands of curious visitors from around the world.

They pledged to stage this play every ten years when the plague descended upon them; amazingly, no more deaths officially began the play in 1634.

Another thing that makes it remarkable is half of the city’s population participates in the production process, from actors to vocalists, and residents fill all the roles. 

There are 102 performances throughout the year; hence, it is known to be one of the world’s largest open-air theaters. 

You can also visit an exhibition in the Passion theatre from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm when the play is not performed.

Oberammergau Passion Play History

The origins of the Passion Play can be traced back to 1633, when the villagers solemnly vowed to perform a play depicting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

They made this vow during a plague, promising to perform the play every ten years if their village was spared from further suffering.

They intended to express gratitude and devotion to God for protecting them from the plague.

This vow was a heartfelt commitment made by the villagers, driven by their deep faith and desire to honor God’s mercy.

Since then, the Passion Play in Oberammergau has been faithfully performed every decade, becoming a cherished tradition.

Over the years, the Passion Play has evolved and grown in scale.

The performances have become more elaborate and theatrical, featuring a large cast of local villagers who dedicate themselves to bringing the story of Jesus Christ to life on stage.

The play captures the essence of the biblical narrative, from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to his crucifixion and resurrection.

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Dress code for the Oberammergau Passion Play

Oberammergau Passion Play

As a respectful tribute to the historical and religious significance of the play, there is a recommended dress code for attendees.

While there is no strict enforcement, adhering to the dress code helps maintain the reverence and solemnity of the occasion.

Here are some guidelines for the dress code at the Oberammergau Passion Play:

Dressing in formal or semi-formal attire when attending the Passion Play is recommended.

This typically means wearing suits, dress pants, dress shirts, and ties for men. Women may opt for dresses, skirts, or dressy pantsuits.

The aim is to present oneself in a respectful and polished manner.

As the passion plays in Oberammergau are a religious event, it is important to dress modestly.

Avoid wearing revealing or provocative clothing that may distract from the occasion’s solemnity.

Both men and women should ensure that their clothing covers their shoulders, and skirts or dresses should be of an appropriate length.

Avoid wearing clothing with offensive slogans, symbols, or designs.

Another Travel Tip

This play involves several hours seated, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes.

Opt for dress shoes or flats suitable for walking and standing for an extended period.

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When is the next Oberammergau Passion Play

The next performance of the Passion Play in Oberammergau is scheduled for 2030, adhering to the decade-long tradition.

This extraordinary event continues to captivate audiences with its powerful portrayal of the life of Jesus Christ.

It also showcases the enduring passion and talent of the villagers.

How to reach Oberammergau

How to reach Oberammergau
Image: Mapcarta.com

The fastest way to reach this town is by car, a 1-hour drive from Munich and Innsbruck.

If you are more comfortable in public transport, a train will take you from Munich central station to Oberammergau in just 1 hour and 48 minutes. 

Another reliable option is travel by bus that runs twice daily to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, from where you can take a taxi to the village.

A couple of guided tours offer a pick-up and drop-off facility in an air-conditioned bus.

Not so far from the village, you can also explore Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castle by purchasing guided Oberammergau tours online.

You definitely will not want to miss this experience!

FAQs

What is unique about Oberammergau?

This small town in Germany is famous and known for its woodcarving traditions, its frescoed buildings, and the world-famous passion play performed every ten years.

It is a quaint village of over 5000 people in the Bavarian Alps, rich and full of history, making it a must-visit for visitors.

Can I take pictures at Oberammergau’s passion play?

Unfortunately, copyrights are the main culprit prohibiting photography or videography during the Passion Play Production performance.

Also, camera equipment should be checked at the baggage drop-off counter at the theater security checkpoint.

The prohibition is also enforced as the camera flashes or the arms filming the play can cause a disturbance for the other visitors.

Is there a dress code for Oberammergau?

There are no dress code restrictions at the passion play.

But to be cautious as the event occurs in an open-air theatre, even though the seats are covered with the roof, we suggest dressing in layers for the visitors.

Warm clothing can help be safe from Oberammergau’s cool or wet weather.

What is the fastest way to reach Oberammergau?

The quickest way to reach Oberammergau is by car.

The town is close to Munich and Innsbruck, so visitors only take hours to reach Oberammergau.

Munich is also the closest airport to Oberammergau, and to cover the 62 miles drive between the airport and the town takes about one and a half hours.

What is the Passion Play based on?

It is a large passion play production in Oberammergau that tells the story of the Passion of Jesus.

It displays the entire journey of Jesus, from his visit to Jerusalem to his crucifixion.

The actors in the production portray the suffering, pain, death, and resurrection of Jesus with powerful and breathtaking performances.

What is the tradition of Oberammergau?

In 1663, it was hit with the bubonic plague, which killed many people.

The townspeople prayed they would perform a passion play dedicated to Jesus every year if the deaths stopped.

So when the plague ended, the people of Oberammergau kept their promise, and since then, people have celebrated this vow every ten years.

Does Oberammergau have snow?

Yes, it does snow in Oberammergau.

There is a snowfall every three days in the village in the middle of February.

Also, rain can occur for a year or two during the said week, so if you plan on visiting the town during that time, pack suitable clothes.

Featured Image: Ralf Menache / Getty Images

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