On our way to Linderhof Paula and I popped in and visited Oberammergau and what a treat. The town is a delight to walk around and many of the buildings are covered in Lüftlmalerei or frescoes depicting religious scenes, traditional Bavarian themes and well known fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. The town is famous for its frescoes and it really is a sight to see. Oberammergau is well knows for its woodcarvers and woodcarvings and the Bavarian State Woodcarving School is located here.
PASSION PLAY – OBERAMMERGAU
Oberammergau is also where the Passion Play is performed every 10 years and has been since the Bubonic plague in 1634. The residents at the time swore an oath that if god saved them from the plague they would perform the ‘Play of Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ every ten years. The plague was brought to the city by a traveller who died, and the plague began to spread through the town. However, after the vow was made none of the other inhabitants died from the plague and those who were suffering from it, recovered.
The first play was performed at Pentecost in 1634, on a stage constructed in the cemetery, above the graves of plague victims. The residents of Oberammergau perform the play repeatedly over the course of five months in the first year of each new decade. The play is now performed on years ending in zero although it was also performed in 1934 on the 300th anniversary and again in 1984 for the 35oth anniversary. The only time the play has not been performed was in 1940 due to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The play involves over 2000 of the local inhabitants, and they must have either been born in Oberammergau or have lived there for at least 20 years. The last play was performed in 2010 and it will next be staged in 2020.
The play is quite long and each performance is held in two sittings which last about 2½ hours each, there is (blessedly) a three hour break between the sessions. Although the play is performed in German you can get a booklet which has been translated into other languages. You can book your tickets now.
We are seriously considering returning to Europe so that we can go and see the Passion play along with a lot of other things we want to see.
- Many of the buildings in Oberammergau are painted in lovely frescoes like this.
- This fresco depicts a childhood favourite of most, Little Red Riding Hood.
- Lüftlmalerei is the art of ornately painting the facades of buildings. Painting buildings with frescoes was popular in baroque Italy and the tradition carried over to Southern Germany. Lüftlmalerei is possibly named after Farnz Seraph Zwinck (1748-1792) who lived and worked at his trade as a facade painter. One story is that his house was call ‘Zum Lüftl’ and the townspeople referred to him as Lüftlmaler or the Lüftl painter’.
Although there is also the theory that he had to work quickly as he worked outside in the fresh air or Luff (German for air), and the paint would dry faster than if he worked indoors. Take you pick which tale you prefer.
- The coach trip took us through the country side past beautiful scenery. I was fascinated by the houses that have stables attached so that in the winter the cattle can be housed inside out of the snow.