is a municipality in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen
, in Bavaria
. The town is famous for its production of a Passion Play
and the NATO School.
The Oberammergau Passion Play
was first performed in 1634 and is the result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague
then sweeping the region they would perform a passion play every ten years. The play is now performed in years ending with a zero, except 1984 which was the 350th anniversary, and involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village.
The village is also known as the home of a long tradition of woodcarving. The streets of central Oberammergau are home to dozens of woodcarver shops, with pieces ranging from religious subjects, to toys, to humoristic portraits.
Oberammergau is also famous for its "Lüftlmalerei," or frescoes, of traditional Bavarian themes, fairy tales, or religious scenes found on many homes and buildings. Lüftlmalerei is common Upper Bavaria and its name may be derived from an Oberammergau house called Zum Lüftl, which was the home of facade painter Franz Seraph Zwinck (1748–1792).
The name of the village (as well as that of neighboring Unterammergau
) appears in a well-known German tongue-twister
- Heut kommt der Hans nach Haus', / Freut sich die Lies / Ob er aber über Oberammergau, / Oder aber über Unterammergau, / Oder aber überhaupt nicht kommt, / ist nicht g'wiß!
- Translation: Hans is coming home today / Lies rejoices / But whether he's coming by way of Oberammergau / or by way of Unterammergau / or not coming at all / is unknown!
School, NATO's key training and education facility on the operational level, has been located in Oberammergau since 1953.
References in popular culture
In the GWAR
album Violence Has Arrived
, 'Oberammergau' is the name of a hell beast that they use to transport themselves around the world. It is mentioned in the songs 'Anti-Anti-Christ' and 'The Song of Words'.
In Pat Conroy's novel, The Prince of Tides, Savannah Wingo writes a poem which celebrates the "shy Oberammergau of the itinerant barber;" her praise for her grandfather's tradition of walking around town carrying a 90 pound cross every Good Friday.