One of the families with main historical relevance
Apart from Pilatus-Haus this house is one of the most prominent buildings with fresco painting (Lüftl painting). It has the strange name “Lang sel. Erben”, which simply means that it is the house of Lang family, or heirs of Lang family (Erben = heirs). Georg Lang, the first ancestor, was one of the first retailers for Oberammergau’s wood craft art. The history of the German term for retailer, Verleger in German, is quite interesting. It seems to be an ancient word, today translated as “publisher”. In the past however, it meant to transfer (verlegen), which is what they did: they bought the wood work and transferred it or distributed it to the different customers Europe- and worldwide. [the “sel.” In the house’s name simply means selig, which translates into blessed, so the house name means: Blessed Georg Lang’s heirs].
Georg Lang, once a pedlar who walked long distances with the items in his back-carrier to deliver goods to far away customers, was wood carver, glass and sculpture painter. In 1775 he founded his business as retailer for his own goods in Oberammergau, later he expanded and sold also wood craft art made by other wood carvers in town.
The house is quite large, one part (the one with the strange name) has a wooden front and is also the shop for Lang’s wood carvings today. The other front is very colourfully painted, shows scenes in the life of wood carvers and pedlars and a celebration. In addition, a painted plaque on the right side of the house shows that Bavaria’s famous writer, Ludwig Thoma, was born here in 1867.
Location of House Lang sel. Erben on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., August 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
King Ludwig’s retreat – Linderhof Castle
Of all the three castles, King Ludwig II had built, Linderhof is the only one which was finished and maybe resembles his visions of “Bavarian Versailles” and Wagner’s operas most. It is also the castle he spent most of his time.
In his childhood the king was here in Grasswangtal (Grasswang Valley) quite often, in the Royal Lodge, which still stands on the ground. When he decided to build his Versailles here, it was clear that it must be a smaller version since the valley is rather narrow and hence vertical space was limited. That’s why he bought the island of Herrenchiemsee later. However, even if the space in Grasswang Valley was limited for a bigger castle, the whole ensemble is very enchanting because he could plan and realise his landscape park much better: with several buildings resembling his favourite themes, Oriental design with Moorish Kiosk and Moroccan House and Wagner operas with Hermitage of Gunemanz and Hunding’s Hut.
And then there is the castle itself. Given the rather small Neo-baroque building I found it quite amazing how spacious it is inside. The rooms in the upper floor are all symmetrically grouped around the central stairway space, with bedchamber, hall of mirrors, audience chamber and dining room facing the four main geographic directions, connected by four small rooms in different colours (pink, purple, blue, yellow). Since the bedroom is much bigger than the opposite hall of mirrors, next to the latter are two tapestry rooms. The famous dumbwaiter “Wishing Table” is located in the dining room (of course...). Our guide said that it is still working and regularly checked, but of course time is too short to demonstrate it during the tour. Talking about tours: they take place every 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the amount of visitors. Tours are in German and English but also in other languages upon request. When I was there a tour in French was given too. The tour takes approx. 25 – 30 minutes. The start of the tour will be printed on the ticket.
I was here in October 2013, sadly the park buildings were already closed, the fountains no longer working because staff was preparing for winter. This includes also the safe storage and scaffolding of all statues in thick plastic canisters. It was fascinating though to watch staff carefully cleaning the statues, with the canisters already waiting to be used.
In this context I can highly recommend to visit the castle in summer, when the park buildings are open, or in winter, when the whole landscape is covered in snow and adds to the fairy tale impression of castle and king.
Parking is provided outside of the park, a 5 minutes’ walk from the ticket office. The castle administration holds wheelchairs for people with walking issues, and staff members push them through the park’s part which is accessible for wheelchairs.
Entrance fee (2014): 8,50 Euro for castle and park (in summer), 7,50 Euro for castle only (in winter) or 5 Euro for the park and its buildings alone.
Those who visit more of Bavaria and have slightly more time might like to consider purchasing the 14-day-pass of Bavarian Castle Administration. In case you are interested, read here (=> click) if this pass makes sense for your visit.
Location of Linderhof Castle (2) and Oberammergau (1) on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., July 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
Ettal Monastery is nearby
One of Bavaria’s most famous monasteries lays just around the corner of Oberammergau: Ettal Abbey. Those who like walking can even walk to it in approx. 30 minutes, or take the bike.
I have heard a lot about the abbey beforehand and wanted to see it one day. But when I was finally inside, it did not live up the hype for me. Maybe it was the weather (grey and drizzling rain) or maybe because I saw so many of Bavaria’s splendid Baroque churches before, which I definitely liked more. I missed the lightness and airiness of Wies Church, the playful stucco work of Rottenbuch’s, Dießen‘s and Steingaden’s churches.
A monastery was erected here already in 14th century, by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor, called “The Bavarian”. His intention was to secure the Via Claudia Augusta, trade road between Verona and northern Italy and Augsburg, but also to host a miraculous statue of Mary, which he bought in Pisa, hence the devotion of the church and its name “St. Mariä Himmelfahrt”. After a fire in 18th century, the monastery was rebuilt in Baroque style by Wessobrunn’s masters Joseph Schmuzer, Johann Georg Üblherr and Franz Xaver Schmuzer. Since approx. 1900 Benedictine monks live here and, according to monk tradition, produce beer and liqueur, which are quite famous in Germany. (Note that you might need to click the button “Ja, ich bin über 18 Jahre” = yes, I am older than 18, when you click on the links for the beer and liqueur websites).
The church itself is devoted to Mary and open for visitors during times when no mass is being held. It is dodecagonal and has a cupola which looks similar, albeit smaller, like the one of St. Peter in Rome. I still don’t know why the interior didn’t impress me as much as the other churches did. I found the paintings in the side altars plus their large opulent golden frames slightly too big, or maybe it was also the white-pink marble that was used for pillars. But yes, it is well worth a visit. Nevertheless, try and visit the other churches I mentioned earlier, to compare and form your own opinion. I’d be curious of what you think.
Since my photos are from this dull and grey day, here are two links to videos on Youtube for a better impression:
Video of Ettal Abbey, 1:23 minutes,
Video of Ettal Abbey, 9:58 minutes.
Bus no. 9622 runs between Oberammergau and Linderhof Castle, with stop in Ettal. It needs between 10 and 5 minutes, depending where you get on the bus.
Location of Ettal Abbey (2) and Oberammergau (1) on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., July 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
All southern Bavaria in one spot :-)
Only 30 km to Oberammergau’s northeast lays the fabulous open air museum of Glentleiten, which gives an interesting insight into the Southern Bavaria of the past. The more than 60 farmhouses of a times pan from 50 – 250 years have been translocated here on a ground of approx. 0,38 km2 or 0,15 square miles.
The museum’s ground is especially exciting because the houses were not just “translocated” but arranged in a way that I always had the feeling to walk through rural Bavaria: cattle and sheep are grazing on the pastures, gardens are in bloom and herb and vegetable gardens are full with delicious produces. Local and old craftsmanship is being demonstrated on the ground in the houses dedicated to the crafts (see => list of events), themed paths explain about the farmers and craftsmen’s daily life throughout the year, and there are exciting discoveries for kids. Make sure you ask for the English flyer “Kids Discovery House” at the ticket centre.
I found it fascinating to walk around, to discover the interiors of the houses, to learn about the hard life of the older generations on these farms but also about the strong social structures in the families. In between the paths you can – and should - enjoy the magic views of the surroundings: views of Kochelsee (lake) nearby and the marvellous mountains in the back. By the way: the term “-Leiten” in the name Glentleiten means slope, and this is exactly where the museum is located: in the slopes northwest of Kochelsee.
It is very easy to “get lost” on the museum ground – not in the sense of loose the way but to get lost in time and thoughts and discoveries, which is why I suggest to plan your trip well in advance. I arrived at approx. 15:00 (3 p.m.) and had three hours before the museum closed, but I did completely forgot the time while I was wandering around, looking into the houses, reading about the former inhabitants or discovered the several craftsmanship houses. I spend approx. one hour on the alpine pastures, just enjoying the views and the sereneness, absorbed in thoughts. And at the end I almost had to run back to the entrance to make sure that I could buy the things I planned to buy.
So plan your trip:
• Look at the themed paths and decide which ones might be of interest,
• Look at the clickable overview map and decide which buildings might be of interest,
• When you are with kids, plan extra time because the kids will surely be most interested to see the animals and visit the House of Discoveries.
Although the building descriptions are in German, below each main house photo are numbers where you can see more photos of the building and the interior. And although the themed paths’ flyers (pdf) are in German, they show the path on the map so you can see which houses belong to which path.
An English map of the museum ground is available at the ticket centre.
On a separate page I have described the museum and the main houses and paths in length. For those who are interested to read more, please look at my Großweil page.
The museum is opened from March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) until November 11 (St. Martin’s Day), Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 – 18:00 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
During June to September it is also open on Mondays.
From October 27th (the day daylight saving time ends) the museum closes at 17:00 (5 p.m.).
Adults: 7 Euro, kids from age 6 – 15: 2 Euro, kids younger than 6 years are free, family ticket (2 adults plus kids up to 15 years): 14 Euro; and see website for additional discounts or special prices.
Apart from being a most fascinating open air museum, the museums responsible have also created a magnificent website – not only in German but almost everything is available in English!.
Also note that the museum staffs is offering any help for disabled visitors, including the free lending of electrical wheelchairs. Kudos for this well thought concept!!
Glentleiten Open Air Museum – for visitors with disabilities
Location of Glentleiten Open Air Museum (1) and Oberammergau (2) on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., July 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
Views to Italy ... almost :-)
Among the many superlatives Bavaria has for visitors, one is certainly Zugspitze, with 2964 metres Germany’s highest mountain. Its very top is marked with a beautiful golden cross. But be warned: it is a rather expensive experience to get to the top: 51 Euro for the round trip (as of summer 2014; it was 50 Euro in summer 2013), from the German side. It seems to be cheaper from the Austrian side though (=> see prices for summer 2014). From the German side one can move upwards either via the Eibsee Cable Car or via Bavarian Zugspitze Railway, and of course by hiking. The railway starts in Garmisch, but has several stops until the final one on “Zugspitzplatt” (Platt means plateau), in total approx. 80 minutes train drive. And from there it is just a 10 minute cable car ride to the very top of the mountain. Zugspitzplatt is very popular, especially during the winter season because of the ski slopes.
When I was there in October 2013, the cable car was serviced, so I had to take the railway. It was an interesting experience, especially trying to picture how much of exceptional work it must have been to cut the tunnels into the stones back in early 20th century! Before going up to the top I stopped at the plateau, especially for the views and the scenery. I was blessed with fabulous weather and fantastic clear views. I didn’t visit the chapel though because I wanted to take advantage of the splendid weather and the views to the south once being on the top. And the weather cooperated nicely: the clear views were magnificent, we could see as far as 400 km! And I swear, we could have seen the cupola of San Pietro in Rome, if.. yes, if there would not have been the mountains in between :-) To the north we could see farther than Munich and to the east we could spot all the high peaks of Austria.
Once on the top, there is a small path to the very top with the golden cross, but only for the experienced hikers because of the strong winds and exposed position. Then there in the wood shingled Münchner Haus, built end of 19th, early 20th century. It belongs to the German Alpine Society and one can stay there over night.
And then there is the border between Austria and Germany, clearly marked (see last photo), the highest border between the two countries, which is open and not manned anymore nowadays, since the Schengen treaty. I met two lovely couples from US, we had a lovely time together, had lunch up there on the Austrian side and enjoyed the views. I think they were happy that I could translate some things for them, especially the operating times of the cable car back to Zugspitzplateau, which, as strange as it might sound, was only displayed in German.
Would I recommend visiting Zugspitze? Oh yes, of course!! Despite the high price!
But, by all means: make sure to do it only when the weather is good for the views. Otherwise I am sure one would be very disappointed. Luckily, in the century of smartphones and webcams, there are several webcams installed on the top and around Garmisch: => webcams. I am amazed, that even today, June 29, 2014, when I write this, there is heaps of snow on the top and a very misty and foggy weather – not a good day to visit the top!
In case you are in the region not only for a day trip: you might like to consider buying a combination ticket, for Zugspitze and “Garmisch-Classic”, which includes Garmisch’s mountains Alpspitze or Kreuzeck. With a price of 60 Euro this is quite a deal, considering that Zugspitze alone costs 51 Euro.
In case you are a map maniac like me, you might like to look at the panorama maps for summer and winter.
Location of (1) Zugspitze and (2) the station Eibsee of the railway on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., June 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
Beautiful parish church St. Peter & St. Paul
Oberammergau’s parish church St. Peter & St. Paul is definitely worth a visit. It is one of the churches, famous Wessobrunn masters stucco workers Joseph Schmuzer and son Franz Xaver and fresco painter Matthäus Günther have outfitted in splendid Baroque style mid 18th century.
Most probably there was a church on the ground already in 9th century or even earlier. From 13th century on the parish belonged to Rottenbuch Monastery. It is a simple building, one nave which is rather broad and gives the interior a very light and airy touch. And of course the splendid stucco work by Schmuzers: sparsely almost but with the pink colours on the walls it adds to the airy feeling. Of course the statues on the altarpieces are connected to Oberammergau’s Passion Play with a crucifixion group, but also to the patron saints St. Peter and St. Paul. But there is also reference to the Confraternity of the Rosary, which was very active in Oberammergau since mid 17th century. Matthäus Günter painted the cupola above the choir with the handing over of the rosary to St. Domenicus, while the frescoes above the nave are depicting scenes of St. Peter and St. Paul. There is another very interesting fresco above the organ and the gallery; however I don’t have a good photo of it, so look at the photo in => Wikipedia: : it shows the view into Michelangelo’s cupola from Bernini’s main altarpiece in St. Peter in Rome.
Don’t miss to walk around on the cemetery outside the church. It is one of the typical Bavarian cemeteries, with beautiful wrought iron crosses of the old days. And while you are there, try to imagine the early days of Oberammergau’s Passion Play: the early performances were given here, on the church ground, but since it was too small at a point in time, the locals had to build the separate theatre in town.
For those who are interested to see more detail photos, please look at the => pdf document called “Church guide”. It is written in German, but has many photos.
Location of St. Peter & St. Paul on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., April 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
Half day hike with guide, herbs and fabulous views
Oberammergau’s Tourist Office offers a lot of different guided walks through town. In addition to these town walks there is also a guided herb walk through Oberammergau’s surroundings, lead by herb specialist Martin Unruh, son of Unruh family who have a B&B in town. I joined this walk on my first Monday in Oberammergau and liked it very much.
These herb walks take place every Monday, meeting point is 13:00 (1 p.m.) in front of the tourist office. Appropriate shoes (hiking shoes or shoes with good grip) are a must because the path leads up and down the slopes of Kofel Mountain.
We started our walk along Ammer River heading east to the bottom of Kofel Mountain. There we turned south (right) to a field called “Döttenbichl”. It was here where locals found remains of Celts and Romans, which lead to the assumption that settlements have been here long before the Romans came. It is said that this was once a Celtic place for fire sacrificing. The Roman finds can be clearly assigned to the Roman legion which later was beaten in the battle of Teutoburg Forest, because the arrowheads have marks of the 19th legion.
From this rather eerie place we continued our walk around the foot of Kofel mountain, into the forests and then into Graswang Valley, which is the valley where Linderhof Castle (of King Ludwig II) is located too. The valley is named after the little village of Granwang, which we passed. Our hike continued through the valley, which is characterised by the rather flat marshland of the Ammer River springs. Ammer River, which flows northward and eventually into Ammersee (Lake Ammer) does not have one spring but is fed by small streams in this valley, namely by Linder (which gave Linderhof Castle its name). This feeding takes place below the ground, for quite some kilometres, but here and there Ammer river surfaces in little ponds (karst springs). That these are not only ponds can be seen by the little bubbles which come to the surface from time to time. I tried to capture them in my last photo. Just watching these was very enchanting and I felt a special energy here in this valley. It must be fabulous earlier in the year, especially during spring, when the marshland is exploding in colour. When I was here it was late October, so not many flowers were blooming.
At a point in time during our hike we were quite hungry, so we made a short stop in restaurant Ettaler Mühle for soup and sweets and something to drink. And then we simply followed Ammer River until we reached Oberammergau at approximately 18:30 (6:30 p.m.).
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike, especially because Martin Unruh is not only a fabulous nature teacher but also because he is funny and nice to hike with. He speaks English too, so would have given all explanations to foreigners too.
This hike is free of charge for all holders of Koenigscard. I don’t know if they charge for guests without this card though.
© Ingrid D., March 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.).
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Gem of a church
After having lunch in town we continued walking around admiring the beautiful painted buildings when we happened upon the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. It is one of the main churches in Oberammergau and from the outside was very plain looking but inside was just a gem.
The church was built between 1736 and 1749. It was designed by Joseph Schmuzer, an architect and a stucco artist. Inside are beautiful frescoes and sculpture work created by other artists.
Outside of the church was a cemetery with some rather elaborate grave markers – crosses, statues, etc.
Make sure to stop in for a visit when you're in Oberammergau.
- Historical Travel
It is close to Oberammergau and has 50 practicing monks here. It was founded in 1330, but did not hits its fame until 1709 when it became a Knight Academy. The complex burned in 1744, and was then rebuilt in Baroque style
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Oberammeragau is another one of those delightful Bavarian villages with homes covered in beautiful frescoes [Luftlmalerei.]
No need really to pick up a map, I didn't, I just went walking and found plenty of them. Quite a few have religious themes, but no wonder!...This is where the famous Passion Play is held every 10years, the last being held in 2010. Others are of traditional Bavarian themes and fairy tales.....
Check out Little Red Riding Hood at Ettaler Strasse 48 and Hansel & Gretal at Ettaler Strasse 41.
- Arts and Culture
Walking around the main centre of Oberammergau, I came across this beautiful Copper fountain.
On a closer look, the fountain is depicting death, disease and suffering from the Plague.
There are many fountains and monuments around Europe about the plague, this is one of them!
- Historical Travel
St Peter and Paul parish church
This church dates back to the 18th century and was designed by Joseph Schmuzer. The foundations were laid on the 21st May 1737 and all went well with the building until 1741 when the locals refused to work without pay.
Passion play House
The Passion stage is one of the largest open air stages in the world. The original text of the play stems from more than one source and has been altered several times in the course of its 350 year history. The staging of the play has changed very little since the 1920's. The impressive massive scenes call for up to 800 actors on stage at the same time.
Only citizens of Oberammergau is allowed to partake as actors.
Visiting the museum you will see 350 years of local art in one building. Some of the pieces leave you breathless and you cannot believe the fine detail that went into the pieces. Obviously done with great love and care. Do not miss the crib collection which is absolutely outstanding.
Oberammergau is probably best known for the Passion play which happens every 10 year and we were lucky to go there in the year when they performed it for the 100th time. It dates back to 1633 when the villagers made a solumn pledge.
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