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15th March, 2021

Oberammergau, a play like no other!

The Alps are alive with the sound of music, as the Crucifixion is commemorated in remarkable fashion.

During the 17th century, when the bubonic plague was sweeping Europe, the inhabitants of the small village of Oberammergau made a promise to God that if their village was spared, then they would perform a Passion Play every ten years.

Legend has it that after the vow was made there were no more cases of the plague in the village and town members already afflicted recovered. The first play was performed in 1634, and with just a few wartime exceptions (and a global pandemic), it’s been performed ever since. The play depicts the life of Jesus Christ including this Crucifixion, culminating in a spectacular finale, The Resurrection. This poignant scene is met with rousing cries of ‘Hallelujah!’ For the audience this play is a truly unforgettable experience.

To be a part of the Passion Play, the cast have to be born in Oberammergau or have lived there for at least 20 years. Preparations began some two years before the play is due to take place, and according to tradition on Ash Wednesday the year before the play the male cast (apart from those playing Romans) are requested to start growing their hair and beards, and by the autumn rehearsals begin.

In addition to the characters of Jesus, Mary, Peter, Judas, Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, there are 120 speaking parts and more than 2,000 villagers will participate in the play. The 42nd Passion Play was due to be performed in spring and summer 2020. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic this has now been moved to 2022.

Experience Oberammergau on a Saga Holiday

You can make a longer holiday from your visit to the Passion Play by joining Saga Holidays on its Oberammergau four country river cruise, joining a brand new 5 anchor ship, stopping off at Munich, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.

Or, join Saga’s Oberammergau and Lake Maggiore trip starting off in a lakeside hotel, exploring the Italian lakes and islands, and finishing at the Passion Play.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.