Oberammergau – A Once in a Decade Experience
THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS PASSION PLAY
In 2020 the small, quaint European village of Oberammergau is set to come alive for the spectacular Passion Play that occurs just once every 10 years. Preparations are already underway for the 42nd instalment of what is regarded as the most significant Passion Play in the world.
Since 1634, in keeping a pledge, the residents of Oberammergau have performed this moving re-creation of Jesus Christ’s last days on Earth, from his visit to Jerusalem to the poignant finale of his execution by crucifixion. The performance, which is recited in German, is said to preserve the health and well-being of Oberammergau’s residents.
During the play’s season, the tiny Bavarian hamlet of Oberammergau buzzes with atmosphere, the cafes and restaurants full and the locals are welcoming tourists from all over the world. It’s a huge social affair of significant importance that sees nearly half of Oberammergau’s 5,000 population, participating in the play.
Only those born in the village, or have lived there for at least 20 years are able to participate in the play, with the exception of some children. The play features over 124 speaking roles, a 65-member orchestra, a 48-person choir and hundreds of people involved in the logistical preparations including stagehands and seamstresses. Costumes are hand-made and male actors also grow out their hair and beards to add to the authenticity of the spectacle.
In 2010 the Passion Play was witnessed by more than half a million people and each performance saw 5,000 people fill the open-air theatre. Of the 109 performances, there was not a single ticket to spare. It featured 1,500 adults, 450 children, 100 musicians, 110 choristers, 41 stage hands and seven lighting engineers.
With over 750,000 travellers expected to make the journey to Oberammergau to attend the event, the 2020 production is sure to be the biggest one yet.
THE NEAR-400 YEAR HISTORY
The Passion Play has a rich and fascinating history that dates back as far as the 15th century. In 1633, Germany had been devastated by the war and 20 – 30 percent of the population had been wiped out. The country was riddled with poverty, famine and disease and the Black Plague was ravaging through Europe, killing of millions of people.
Facing possible extinction after a villager returned to Oberammergau infecting others, the villagers gathered and first performed the Passion Play in a profound expression of repentance, vowing that if their village was spared from the disease, they would perform the Passion Play every 10 years that would tell the story of the last days of Jesus of Nazareth.
Following that promise, not a single person in the village died from the plague and those who had been infected recovered from the disease. Since then, they village has stayed true to its commitment for nearly 400 years.
NOT JUST FOR CHRISTIANS
It’s easy to assume that the play would only appeal to true believers of Christianity, but its appeal stretches well beyond that. The drama, the struggles, the ideals, the crushing tragedy and then the triumph beyond the tragedy is captivating in itself, and aside from the story the sheer size of the production is certainly something to marvel at. The theatre, the sets, the number of performers, the costumes, the creation of text and reinterpretation of the story is a wonder of its own.
THE TOWN OF OBERAMMERGAU
Located approximately 96 kilometres from Munich, the small town of Oberammergau lies on the Ammer River beneath the soaring peaks of the Amergau Alps. It has all the beautiful touches that we’ve come to expect of a village in the Bavarian Alps. Charmingly crafted chalets with bright flower displays overflowing from the window boxes, storybook castles, cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes, and friendly locals. It’s well known for its skiing, snowboarding, hiking and hang-gliding, as well as its woodcarvings. The borders of the town also connect with one of Germany’s most popular tourist routes – the Romantic Road, which extends for 350kms from Wurzburg in the north to Füssen in the south.
The Top 10 Things to Do/See When in Oberammergau
- Oberammergau Church
- Alpine Coaster Oberammergau
- Geburtshaus von Ludwig Thoma
- Oberammergau Museum
DON’T MISS OUT!
Performed only once every 10 years, Oberammergau’s Passion Play is performed five days a week from May to October, with the next performance due to take place in May 2020. Demand for tickets is always high and ticket numbers are also limited given the theatre’s 4,700-person capacity, so advance bookings are crucial in order to secure your spot.
Check out the incredible tours that are available here, and contact us today to start planning your 2020 Oberammergau’s Passion Play experience.
Safe travels from Travel Partners Australia ✈️