Munich, Bavaria and the Passion Play in Oberammergau
Updated: Jul 12
The 42nd Passion Play was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. We had tckets to it, and had to wait for three years later for it, so we were very thrilled to finally be able to attend the play.
We landed in Zurich, where we picked up our rental car and drove to Munich. It’s only a few hours away on a busy autobahn. We spent the first two nights at the Westin Grand Munich located in the Bogenhausen area. It’s a very nice property with an indoor pool, a spa and a Paulaner's Beer Garden restaurant. We had dinner there and enjoyed their wiener schnitzels.
We are very familiar with the city, as I went to school there, but we decided to visit some of the classics once again. We stopped first by Marientplatz and enjoyed the Rathaus-Glockenspiel show, a clock and chimes that re-enacts two stories from the 16th century. It is a delight to watch! We walked to Frauenkirche, a church that serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich (the devil himself is said to have left a footprint at the entrance). We finished our visit of the center of the city at the Residenz, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. The Residenz is the largest city palace in Germany.
In the afternoon we drove to Nymphenburg Palace, a Baroque structure considered one of the premier royal palaces of Europe. If you visit, do not miss the museum of carriages and sleighs. You need an additional ticket, but it is absolutely worth it.
The next day we left Munich and drove to the Bavarian alps where the city of Oberammergau is located. On our way we stopped first at the Benedictine Abbey of Schäftlarn and then at the Ettal Abbey, another beautiful monastery, located just a few minutes from Oberammergau. We had a few hours left before checking in and we decided to drive by Neuschwanstein castle, the most famous palace of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was the inspiration for the Disney Cinderella castle. We had visited the castle before, but we wanted to see it once again as it is so lovely. Neuschwanstein castle is a “must see” when visiting Bavaria.
We drove back to Oberammergau and checked in at the Hotel Maximilian, a very nice boutique/chalet hotel. The staff and the accommodations were wonderful. We also had a very good dinner at their restaurant.
The Passion Play is performed from May to September. It lasts six hours and is performed in two parts. It starts at 2:30pm with a break at 5:00pm. The second part starts at 8:00pm so there is plenty of time to have dinner and to go back to your hotel if it is nearby. We had made reservations at a very nice Italian restaurant named Piccola Toscana. Their food is very good and the owners are very friendly. Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634. It is performed every ten years because of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the plague, then sweeping the region, they would perform a passion play every ten years. The village survived. To be considered as a performer in the Passion Play, you must either have been born in the village, married to a local for 10 or more years, or lived there personally for 20 years.
The theater has a seating capacity of over 4,500 and is covered. The back of the stage is open, so it could get cold at night. The play was everything that we expected. It is something that needs to be experienced once in a lifetime. It is hard to believe that the actors are all locals and that they perform the play for several months. What a performance!
We left Germany the next day and stopped by Linderhof Palace, the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II and the only one which he lived to see completed. It’s near Oberammergau. The place has beautiful rooms and gardens. You cannot visit it on your own, but they have tours in different languages.
All-in-all, this was a fantastic trip and even if you cannot make the Passion Play in 2030, you definitely want to visit this part of Germany!