Nearly 400 years ago the inhabitants of a Bavarian village vowed that - if they survived the twin scourges of pestilence and war - they would give thanks to God with an act of devotional theatre. The Oberammergau Passion Play is the result. Performed once a decade, it sits halfway between high art and religious ritual - and links the audience directly with the pain, hope and determination of that first cast of actors in 1634. The next edition is in 2020, when 1,000 villagers will be on stage to to evoke Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. We’ll be at the Passionstheater to see them.
Our first two nights are in Munich, and the trip begins when we assemble at our hotel between 17.10 and 17.30. After an introductory lecture and discussion, there’s a chance for everyone to meet over a group dinner in the hotel restaurant.
The day begins with a walking tour of key city centre sights: the glittering, Baroque interior of the Asamkirche, the soaring nave of the Frauenkirche, and the Ohel Jakob Synagogue. The afternoon is devoted to the sprawling and spectacular palace of the Wittelsbach dynasty – the Residenz. Here, the Cuvilliés Theatre houses one of the most spectacular Rococo interiors in Europe – its carvings having been removed for safe keeping in the Second World War.
En route to Oberammergau, we visit another important landmark of popular devotion: the Wieskirche. It’s been a place of pilgrimage ever since a statue of the Scourged Christ was first seen weeping in 1738. From here, we travel to the loveliest of Ludwig II’s palaces, the Linderhof, before arriving at our Oberammergau hotel in time for a group dinner.
The day of the Passion Play begins with our second lecture, and some free time – a chance perhaps to visit the museum documenting the play’s history. The play itself is the product of ten months of rehearsal and the work of 2,000 people: each half lasts two and a half hours, with a three hour interval for dinner.
After a leisurely breakfast, we transfer by coach to the Leuchtenbergring S-Bahn Station, arriving by 12.00. Direct trains run from here to both Munich Airport and the city’s Hauptbahnhof.
Departure 1: £1,650 per person sharing in a double room, £1,850 for one person in a double room.
Departure 2: £1,690 per person sharing in a double room, £1,890 for one person in a double room.
The price includes the speaker and a trip manager, accommodation with daily breakfasts, three dinners, Passion Play tickets, transport by private coach, admissions to sites as mentioned in the itinerary.
Please note trains or flights are not included.
Arcona LIVING München, Munich (4 stars)
4-star hotel in Oberammergau (name to be confirmed)
The tours of Munich, Wieskirche and Linderhof Palace and Park require a fair degree of fitness.
There is no minimum number of clients required for this trip to run.
Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before you book to make sure you are happy with the advice for the places you are visiting.