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In 2022, the small Bavarian village of Oberammergau in Germany will host its 42nd Passion Play. But what is the Passion Play and why is it so famous? Read on to discover the history behind Oberammergau’s Passion Play and why you should add it to your bucket list.
What is the Passion Play?
Held only once every 10 years, Oberammergau’s Passion Play
has been captivating visitors for centuries.
The origins of the play date back to 1633 when the Bavarian village of Oberammergau was struck by the Great Plague. The inhabitants prayed for their lives to be spared, and in return pledged an oath to perform a play once every 10 years depicting the suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Miraculously the deaths stopped, and so the tradition endured, starting with the town’s legendary first performance in 1634.
Fast-forward 350 years and the play now attracts thousands of visitors, who travel from all corners of the globe to see the play in action.
Where is the Passion Play held?
Oberammergau is a picturesque town nestled at the western edge of the Bavarian Alps. The sleepy alpine community comes alive every 10 years, with about half of the townspeople participating in over a hundred performances between May and October.
For the first 200 years, the Passion Play performances were held over the graves of the Black Death victims in Oberammergau’s local cemetery. A new location for the play was decided in 1820, with the play now taking place in the open-air stage of the Passion Play Theatre – a venue large enough to accommodate over 5,000 people!
Fascinating facts about the Passion Play
- Only residents of Oberammergau are allowed to take part in the Passion Play
- Residents must either have been born in Oberammergau, married to a local for 10 years or have lived there for 20 years to take part
- Although there are only 124 speaking roles, over 2,000 citizens are involved in the play
- Married and older women weren’t allowed to participate in the play until 1990!
- Men taking part start growing out their hair and beards 15 months before in order to keep the play looking authentic to the time
- The play is performed in German, but that doesn’t stop people from all over the world travelling to see it
- The play is seven hours long, with a 3-hour interval and dinner
- It’s predicted that over 750,000 people will attend in 2022
What else is there to do in Oberammergau?
Oberammergau is surrounded by breathtaking Bavarian mountain scenery, punctuated with scenic hiking trails and biking routes – making it ideal for walking and cycling in the summer months.
Head to the Oberammergau museum to see some exquisite examples of the town’s famously intricate woodcarving art. The town also hides some of the most glorious frescoes; dive into the elegant 18th century St. Peter and Paul Church to see the beauty for yourself.
It’s also just a 90 minute drive from Munich, giving you a great opportunity to explore another famous German city.
Oberammergau Passion Play 2022 packages
Held only once every 10 years, Oberammergau’s Passion Play is truly a once in a lifetime experience to tick off your bucket list.