For the next few months, we’ll be hanging our warm, winter hats in Oberammergau, a village located in Germany’s Alps. Oberammergau is perhaps best known for its Holzschnitzer (woodcarvers), colorful frescoes (Lüftlmalerei), and Passion Play. This theatrical production is held every ten years.
Some residents in Oberammergau still wear feather-adorned, green wool hats; custom-tailored Lederhosen; or Dirndls for special events. The traditional salutation in Bavaria is Grüß Gott (God’s greetings), or more informally, Servus.
During a Black Death (bubonic plague) epidemic that swept the area in the 1630s, Oberammergau lost many inhabitants. As the story goes, Oberammergau residents pledged to perform a passion play regularly, if God spared them further ravages of the Black Death.
The first play was held in 1634, and today, more than 2,000 villagers take part in all aspects of its production. During its five-month run, which takes place in years ending with zero, Oberammergau’s Passion Play attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all corners of the world. The Passion Play will next be held in Oberammergau in 2020.
In the last autumn weekend before winter arrived on the scene, we took to the streets of Oberammergau, admiring the frescoes (which largely feature religious or natural themes), the choir of the church bells on the hour, and the rolling green hills and their furry inhabitants. Though a few roses and autumn flora held on late in the season, it was apparent that winter was waiting in the wings. Most yards were well-stocked with meticulously cut lumber, and some residents were already donning woolen knee-socks.
Thank goodness we’ve found some delightful Bäckerei and cafés* in which to warm ourselves up with piping-hot pumpkin soups and crusty breads.
Where in the World?
- Take a peek at the Ammergauer Alpen site to see which events are taking place in Oberammergau and the Ammergau Alps during your visit.
- Oberammergau is located about 90 km (55 miles) southwest of Munich. To get there by rail or by bus, consider getting the Bayern or Regio Ticket (website in German, but you can use Google Translate). These special tickets start at €20/25 for one passenger, and cost €6 for each additional passenger. You can use them to travel via bus and train throughout much of the region, making them a better deal if you want to make a few stops in a day. You can purchase tickets online, via a ticket machine, or in person.
- Are you looking for a guesthouse or hotel in Oberammergau? Before my parents moved there, Shawn and I spent two nights at the Gästehaus Hildegard (affiliate link). We thought the beds were comfortable, the owners were helpful and kind, and the breakfast was tasty. The guest house is centrally located in the town too, and it’s not far from the Tiroler Gasse bus stop. The train station is also only about 1 km away.
- Having transitioned to gluten-free eating (which is quite a challenge in Germany, where wheat breads reign supreme), I was delighted to find Theater Café . This restaurant serves gluten-free cakes and soups. During our visit, we enjoyed a scrumptious bowl of pumpkin soup, which was adorned with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and cream. Also on the menu? Gluten-free buckwheat raspberry cake, and an eggnog liqueur cake. 2019 Update: This restaurant is now under new management, but I’m happy to say that they’re still offering some of the same gluten-free pastries as their predecessor.
- Print out this free card from Celiac Travel, to describe your gluten-free dietary restrictions to chefs and restaurant staff while traveling in Germany.
- Need more inspiration? This page indexes all my posts from Germany.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.