If you’ve never been to Germany, you should go. If you’ve never been to Bavaria, you should go. If you’ve never been to a town with a tongue-twister for a name –
like Oberammergau, you should go (Bonus: Unterammergau is not far away!). If you’ve never experienced “Wandmalerei” (mural paintings) on buildings, Fachwerkhäuser (half-timbered houses), Alpenlandschaft (alpine landscape), or Holzschnitzerei (wood carving), you absolutely need to go!!
Oberammergau is a lovely, quaint wood-carving village on the Ammer river in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district of Bavaria. It’s most famous for the Passion play it has put on every 10 years since the year 1634 (as a result of a vow that the villagers pledged God when he spared them from the Bubonic plague). It’s also very well known for its wood-carving (watch out, though, many shops now sell cheap, Chinese knock offs. Thus, I highly recommend doing some “Holzschnitzer” research first and saving for works crafted by master carvers!)
Our GAPP group stays at the Hotel Wittelsbach in central Oberammergau every two years, using this town as a base from which we travel to local sites. Though the village is small in size, it lacks nothing in character, and the students ALWAYS find an adventure to be had. Whether it’s wending through the winding streets to locate a Döner kebab, savoring Italian-made gelato in a local shop, buying wood carving souvenirs for loved ones back home, hiking nearby “hills” (i.e. alpine foothills), braving the nearby gondola to enjoy new heights and stunning views, or playing at the local pool with native Oberammergau-ians, there’s something for everyone, and no one leaves disappointed.
Take a peek at this enchanting village from a “downtown angle” (i.e. the window of my hotel room in 2016). You’ll definitely agree that Oberammergau ist einfach traumhaft (simply gorgeous)!