The Tradition of
Oberammergau's
Passion Play

The Story and History of
The Passion Play
in Oberammergau

Oberammergau: The Passion Play 2022

388 years of performing the world’s most famous Passion Play

Oberammergau, Germany

Oberammergau is a small town in Germany nestled in the Bavarian Alps. With a little over 5,000 inhabitants, the quaint village is best known for its tradition of woodcarving, its intricately frescoed buildings, and a world-famous Passion Play production performed every ten years. Oberammergau's Passion play is the longest-running play known and one of the world's most significant amateur dramatic performances.

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The History of Oberammergau's Passion Play

Devastated by the Bubonic Plague in 1633, the people of Oberammergau made an oath to God, hoping to spare the village. They vowed that if saved, they would forever perform a "Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every ten years.

According to the church's records from that year, plague-related deaths stopped soon after the villagers swore the oath.

The following year, at Pentecost 1634, the villagers fulfilled the pledge for the first time performed on a stage built in the cemetery above the graves of plague victims.

See the Passion Play in 2022

What is the Oberammergau Passion Play?

The village's Passion Play is a large production held in Oberammergau, Germany, that tells the story of the Pasion of Jesus, from his visit to Jerusalem to his crucifixion. The actors share the message of his suffering, death, and resurrection with their powerful performances.

The Passion Play is performed on the world's largest open-air stage. The play spans an entire day and can run from five to eight hours, with an intermission long enough for a nice meal. While the production is in German, audience members are provided the script in multiple languages. However, with the captivating storytelling and moving performances, most viewers find that language is hardly a barrier.

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Oberammergau's Performers

Around 2,000 people, almost half of the total population of Oberammergau, perform in the play. For five months, the villagers will play the roles of Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate, and the apostles, soldiers, and priests. As per law, all participants, from actors playing the significant speaking parts through choir members, orchestra members, firefighters, and ushers, must have been born in Oberammergau or lived there for at least 20 years.