Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Passion Play of Oberammergau

When the Bavarian village of Oberammergau was afflicted by the Plague in 1633, its inhabitants pledged to perform passion plays every ten years. They have been true to their oath for nearly 400 years now.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: every 10 years, in years ending on a “0” (next date: 16 May till 4 October 2020)
Inscription: 2014
Domains: performing arts
Where to find: Oberammergau (Bavaria)

In those passion plays the last five days of the life of Jesus are presented in the course of a performance lasting several hours. All those participating, from the actors, the choir and the orchestra to the ushers are local residents. The technical and manual shaping of the performances is also implemented by people from Oberammergau. In 2010 half of the population were involved in the realisation and more than 500,000 spectators from all over the world came to the performances.

Due to the constant work being performed on the text, stage, props, music and acting the tradition has remained lively throughout the centuries and over many a generation. The trademarks of the passion plays are the combination of loyalty to tradition and openness for the present day that is made possible by the dialogue between the generations, religious persuasions, representatives of orthodoxy and the modern.

An experience uniting the peoples of the world has thus grown out of the Oberammergau passion plays. It is characterised by the passion of the people of Oberammergau themselves, who adapt their lives to the rhythm of the decades.

Publication

Wissen. Können. Weitergeben..
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2017