Passion Play Tours Every 10 Years!
The History of the Passion Play
The Oberammergau Passion Play first took place in the year 1634. Facing the devastating plague called the ‘Black Death’ that had decimated large parts of Europe, the citizens of the German village of Oberammergau pledged to perform a play every 10 years, portraying the “passion” or suffering of Christ, if their town would be spared from further casualties. The town’s chronicles relate that, “From this day on, there were no further victims of the plague.”
In 1680, the play was moved to the first year of each decade. Then, in the early 1800’s, music was added and today a choir and orchestra enhance the performance.
As it has been from the beginning, all the actors in the play are local townspeople. One year prior to the performance, the actors start rehearsals and begin growing their hair to ensure that the characters in the play look as realistic as possible. More than 1500 adults and 500 children are typically involved. In 2020, the citizens of Oberammergau take to the stage for the 42nd time in this truly extraordinary drama.
About the Village of Oberammergau
Oberammergau is a storybook village in southern Germany, in the state of Bavaria, renowned for its natural alpine splendor, convivial atmosphere, and warm hospitality. Oberammergau lies about 45 miles to the southeast of Munich, the capital of Bavaria. It is situated in one of the world’s most romantic settings; a wide valley surrounded by mountains, lakes, meadows and forests . . . an unspoiled world.
While well-adapted to the high expectations of the 20th-century traveler, in terms of accommodations and creature comforts, Oberammergau has succeeded in preserving its medieval character, complete with farmsteads, lovely chalets adorned with pastoral paintings, and woodcarver’s workshops. Craftsmanship is a tradition in Oberammergau, where, for almost 1000 years, the inhabitants have produced wood carvings, wax figures, and cut glass. The museum in Oberammergau has an extraordinary collection of handicrafts, dedicated to the history of the area’s artisans. The magnificent parish church, consecrated in 1749, is one of the finest examples of rococo art and architecture . . . joyful exultation created by great masters.