Surrounded by lush alpine forests, pretty green meadows and stunning mountain ranges, Oberammergau, Germany is a picture-postcard European holiday destination. The quaint alpine town is renowned for its traditional Bavarian art and culture, and its long-running Passion Play that takes place every 10 years.
Things to do in Oberammergau, Germany
Just walking through the streets of Oberammergau is a visual treat as many of their buildings feature ‘Lüftlmalerei’ or frescoes, depicting traditional Bavarian culture, fairy tales and religious scenes.
One of these highly decorated houses, the Pilatushaus (Pilate’s House) is covered in trompe l’oeil balconies, balustrades and columns along with scenes of the resurrection of Christ. On the ground floor of the Pilatushaus is a workshop where you can see craftsmen producing local specialities and traditional handcrafts using methods that are hundreds of years old.
Oberammergau is also a popular launching point for a tour of Bavaria as it is within driving distance of one of the most enchanting German tourist attractions, Neuschwanstein Castle. The shy King Ludwig II built the castle, perched high on a mountain ridge, as a personal retreat where he could withdraw from public life and get away fro the crowds. He sadly died only 172 days after he’d moved in to Neuschwanstein and his reclusive getaway is now ironically one of the most visited of all the palaces and castles in Europe. The epitome of a fairy tale castle, Neuschwanstein is said to have been the inspiration for Disney Land’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Oberammergau is a small town and much of the food and daily way of life has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Oberammergau is most famous for its traditional Passion Play, enacted throughout its streets at every 10 years.
The Oberammergau Passion Play started in 1634 when the locals made a promise to God that if they were spared the devastation of the bubonic plague that was sweeping the area, they would produce a play depicting the life and death of Jesus. Although they were not untouched, the death rate from the plague in Oberammergau was considerably less than surrounding areas and the locals now see taking part in the Passion Play as a fulfilment of the promise made by their ancestors to God.
The Passion Play runs for about seven hours and hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to this delightful German destination to experience it. The next Passion Play is set for 2020.