Oberammergau from the summit of Kofel
Oberammergau from the summit of Kofel
Coat of arms of Oberammergau
Oberammergau is located in Germany
Coordinates 47°35′48″N 11°03′52″E / 47.59667°N 11.06444°E / 47.59667; 11.06444Coordinates: 47°35′48″N 11°03′52″E / 47.59667°N 11.06444°E / 47.59667; 11.06444
Country Germany
State Bavaria
Admin. region Upper Bavaria
District Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Mayor Arno Nunn
Governing party CSU
Basic statistics
Area 30.06 km2 (11.61 sq mi)
Elevation 837 m  (2746 ft)
Population 5,228 (31 December 2010)[1]
 - Density 174 /km2 (450 /sq mi)
Other information
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Licence plate GAP
Postal code 82487
Area code 08822
Website www.gemeinde-oberammergau.de

Oberammergau is a municipality in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Bavaria, Germany. The town is famous for its production of a Passion Play, its woodcarvers, and the NATO School.



Passion Play

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, as well as in 1934 which was the 300th anniversary and 1984 which was the 350th anniversary (though the 1940 performance was cancelled because of the intervention of the Second World War). It involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village.

Oberammergau Passion Play 2010

About half the inhabitants of Oberammergau took part in the once-a-decade Passion Play in 2010.

This means that over 2,000 villagers brought the story of Jesus to life for the audiences that flocked in from around the world. The play started with Jesus entering Jerusalem, continued with his death on the cross and finished with the resurrection. As ever, this was an extraordinary community enterprise, in which only natives of the village could participate.

2010 saw a new production directed by Christian Stückl, director at Munich's noted Volkstheater. He was supported by the artistic team that along with him staged the 2000 Passion Play: deputy director and dramatic adviser Otto Huber, set and costume designer Stefan Hageneier and music director Marxus Zwink and conductor Michael Bocklet - all from Oberammergau. The play started each day at 14.30 and including a three-hour interval ended at 22.30. Performances took place between mid-May and early October 2010.

Traditional art

The village is also known as the home of a long tradition of woodcarving; the Bavarian State Woodcarving School is located there. Among the celebrated former students is the German artist Wolfram Aichele. His processional church staff depicting Christ on a donkey can be seen in the church of St Peter and St Paul. The streets of central Oberammergau are home to dozens of woodcarver shops, with pieces ranging from religious subjects, to toys, to humorous portraits.

Oberammergau is also famous for its "Lüftlmalerei," or frescoes, of traditional Bavarian themes, fairy tales, religious scenes or architectural trompe-l'œil 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 neighbouring Unterammergau) appears in a well-known German tongue-twister, often sung as a round:

  • German: Heut' kommt der Hans zu mir, / freut sich die Lies. / Ob er aber über Oberammergau, / oder aber über Unterammergau, / oder aber überhaupt nicht kommt, / ist nicht gewiß!
  • English: Hans will come join with me, / rejoices Lies. / If he comes by way of Oberammergau / or by way of Unterammergau, / or if at all he comes, / that is not sure! [2]


The Conrad von Hötzendorf Kaserne was built just east of the village in 1935-37 as a base for the signals detachment (Gebirgs-Nachrichten-Abteilung 54) of the Mountain Brigade. In 1943 the kaserne was taken over by the Messerschmitt company as a jet engine development site; 37km (22 miles) of tunnels were bored into the neighboring Laber mountain for engine production facilities.

At the end of World War II the Americans occupied the kaserne, renaming it Hawkins Barracks and making it the primary facility of U.S. Army School Europe; over the next three decades schools in specialties ranging from military police to nuclear-weapons handling were located there. The base reverted to German Army control and its original name in 1974.

NATO School, formerly NATO Weapons Systems School, the alliance's principal training and education facility on the operational level, has been located at Hawkins Barracks/Hötzendorf Kaserne 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.

The 1934 film Twentieth Century, starring John Barrymore, mentions the famous passion play.

In Maud Hart Lovelace's novel Betsy and the Great World, Betsy visits Oberammergau and meets many of the people involved in the passion play.

Also, the passion play inspired the Brazilians to create one of the largest outdoor theaters in the world, called New Jerusalem city theater in Pernambuco.

Jerome K Jerome wrote 'The Diary of a Pilgrimage' about his journey to see the Passion Play.

Mike Ramsdell teaches at the NATO school in his novel 2005, A Train To Potevka.

A song 'Oberammergau' by UK musician Christopher Rye (featuring Chinese rock band Taikonauts), is based on a reference in the book 'Dark Side of the Moon' by Gerard de Groot, to Oberammergau being the destination for the rocket scientists fleeing Nazi Germany at the end of the Second World War, who then helped build the US space programme.

In the 1976 film Network, at seeing an audition tape, the character Diana Christensen (played by Faye Dunaway) shouts "We don't want faith healers, evangelists or Oberammergau passion players!"


  1. ^ "Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes" (in German). Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung. 31 December 2010. https://www.statistikdaten.bayern.de/genesis/online?language=de&sequenz=tabelleErgebnis&selectionname=12411-009r&sachmerkmal=QUASTI&sachschluessel=SQUART04&startjahr=2010&endjahr=2010. 
  2. ^ The ditty is geographically nonsense; since the two villages are just 4 km apart in a narrow valley, it's not possible for Hans to come to anywhere by way of one but not the other.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Oberammergau — Oberammergau …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Oberammergau — Oberammergau, s. Ammergan u. Passionsspiele …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Oberammergau — Oberammergau, Gemeinde im bayr. Regbez. Oberbayern, Bezirksamt Garmisch, an der Ammer, in einem Alpental, an der Eisenbahn Murnau O., 841 m ü. M., hat eine kath. Kirche, eine Zeichen , Modellier und Schnitzschule, ein Museum für Altertümer und… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Oberammergau — Oberammergau, Dorf im bayr. Reg. Bez. Oberbayern, an der Ammer (s.d.), (1900) 1559 E.; Schnitzerei. Berühmt die seit 1634 alle 10 Jahre (zuletzt 1900) von Einwohnern aufgeführten Passionsspiele (Darstellungen aus der Leidensgeschichte Christi).… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Oberammergau — [ō΄bər äm′ər gou΄] village in S Germany, in the state of Bavaria: site of a Passion play performed usually every ten years: pop. 4,700 …   English World dictionary

  • Oberammergau — Wappen Deutschlandkarte …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Oberammergau — Armas Mapa Datos básicos …   Wikipedia Español

  • Oberammergau — Original name in latin Oberammergau Name in other language Obaammagau, Oberamergau, Oberammergau, ZOX, shang a ma gao, Оберамергау, Обераммергау State code DE Continent/City Europe/Berlin longitude 47.59812 latitude 11.06692 altitude 840… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Oberammergau — Ober|ạm|mer|gau: Ort in Bayern. * * * Ober|ạmmergau,   Gemeinde im Landkreis Garmisch Partenkirchen, Oberbayern, 850 m über dem Meeresspiegel, im Ammergebirge der bayerischen Voralpen, 5 300 Einwohner; Berufsfac …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Oberammergau Passion Play — Jesus Christ and John, 1900 performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play …   Wikipedia

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