Oberammergau is a small, pretty village, just north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where Jesus looms large. Here, every ten years, the town produces the world's most famous Passion Play, a reenactment of the story of Jesus Christ, which involves nearly half the village – more than 2,000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technical staff, all them residents of the village. The Oberammergau Passion Play dates from 1634, when the village folk pledged to perform "Christ's Passion" if the approaching bubonic plague passed them by. It is now religiously performed at the end of every decade – in the years ending in zero – in a huge open-air theater, between May and September, with 100 performances offered, each lasting some six hours, and draws audiences from around the world. Besides its Passion Play, however, the village also enjoys renown for its long tradition of woodcarving and the unique Lüftlmalerei – thematic and typically Bavarian fresco-style paintings on façades of homes and buildings, depicting religious, fairy tale and beer hall scenes, as well as architectural trompe l'oeil (3-D art that fools the eye).
Oberammergau's principal interest lies in its village center, with pedestrianized, atmospheric streets peppered with woodcarvers' shops, notable among them the Pilatushaus on Ludwig-Thoma-Straße, which offers both an outstanding example of a Lüftlmalerei façade and workshops and a gallery filled with some of the best woodcarvings in town, ranging from religious figurines to toys and caricatures. There is also a dome-topped frescoed parish church of Saints Peter and Paul here, as well as a NATO School devoted to weapons systems training.
Oberammergau is situated in southwest Bavaria, at the foot of the distinctive, 4,403-foot-high (1,342 m) Kofel mountain, roughly 12 miles (19 km) north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It has a resident population of approximately 5,300.
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