Hidden amongst the low hills of Bavaria
Hidden amongst the low hills of Bavaria, the Oberammergau Passion Play is a once-in-a-decade performance of astonishing scope. Enjoy this incredible spectacle on this memorable tour which not only takes in the play, but also the spectacular beauty of the crisp Austrian Alps.
Our tour begins at London St Pancras International, where after meeting your Tour Manager, we board the Eurostar service to Paris where, on arrival, we continue to Stuttgart where we stay over night.
On Day 2, we travel to Zell am See, where we stay for the next three nights. Depending on departure date, we either stay at the Grand Hotel Zell am See or the 4-Star Superior Sporthotel Alpin. Zell am See is one of the most well-known Austrian towns, a haven for visitors, skiers and hikers alike. The lake on whose banks it is sat is a glorious expanse of water stretched across the entire valley.
Our excursion today, takes us by coach to Krimml in the Hohe Tauern National Park, the second largest wildlife preserve in Europe and home to the glorious Krimml Waterfalls, the largest waterfalls in Austria and thought to be the highest in Europe. Over 380 metres high, crashing down onto the rocks below, the Krimml waterfalls cast a shimmering mist over the sumptuous backdrop of the valley below.
Guided walks follow a trail which passes by the three stages of the falls as they thunder into pools guarded by pine tree forests and craggy rock formations. The valley, the Krimmler Ache Valley is a glorious example of a postcard Austrian valley, complete with forested valley walls, noble Alpine mountains and traditional farmlands and barns. The waters here are exceptionally pure glacial waters sourced from the peaks above, and are actually recognised by the local government as being beneficial to the health of those who visit, specifically for aiding the immune system.
After some time here, we transfer to Mittersil for a journey on the wonderful narrowgauge Pinzgauer Lokalbahn Railway which treks to Zell am See, offering marvellous views across the forests below. With jolly red carriages trundling below the steep tall pine covered mountains, this train gives a superb panoramic snapshot of the picture perfect Austrian countryside as it runs from the traditional city of Mittersill to
Today sees us visit the Hohe Tauern National Park and journey along the superb Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Regarded as one of the world's finest roads, this section provides us with unparalleled views across the stunning valleys and mountains, crowned by the ancient and magnificent Grossglockner, Austria's tallest mountain.
Wriggling up and over the small foothills, the route takes us past fresh waterfalls, chocolate box towns and verdant meadows on a journey which connects the small communes which in this corner of the world. Keep an eye out here for the wonderful wildlife which call this place home including regal birds of prey, adorable marmots and the magnificent Alpine ibex, a wild goat native to the region with excellent curved horns.
One of several stops on the way is the enchanting village of Heiligenblut where we have some time at leisure. This town at the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park lies at the foot of the Black Mountain, Grossglockner, and is the gem in the crown for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. At the heart of this fairy tale village is an impressive Gothic church with an exquisite spire and reverent interiors, striking against the Alpine sky.
Leaving Zell am See today, we travel by rail (Standard Class) to Oberammergau where we check into our hotel, in or around the Ammergau region. After settling in, we have some time here to explore before dinner this evening.
Located on the banks of the Ammer river, this small, charming town at the heart of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen region of Bavaria is quintessentially German. It is famous for its woodcarving traditions to which many shops in the town centre are dedicated. Strolling through the busy streets at the time of the Passion Play is almost like walking through a living, breathing fairytale thanks to the coloured houses and cobbled streets.
Today features the highlight of our tour: the magnificent Oberammergau Passion Play. Divided into two halves, this behemoth of a production showcases the final days of Jesus Christ's life, chronicling his Passion in a performance which features over 2,000 villagers as both cast, crew and members of the live choir and orchestra.
These villages take charge of designing the stunning set pieces, creating the marvellous backdrops and running the immense organisation required for such an enormous undertaking. The costumes are a wonder to see, as is the superb acting and genuine cast, all of whom are residents of Oberammergau. The play even featured in its latest iteration live animals including hens, cows and goats.
The story behind the Passion Play is worth noting - during the time of the bubonic plague in the 17th century, the people of Oberammergau made a vow to God, declaring that if he saved the town from the plague, they would produce a theatrical production for him every ten years celebrating the sacrifice of his son Jesus. The people of Oberammergau were spared from the horror of the disease and consequently began a tradition which would last up until today. This makes the Oberammergau Passion Play the most famous and the oldest across the world, having run continuously since its inception (apart from a single break due to the beginning of World War II).
Unsurprisingly, the play is of massive importance for the village, due much in part to the fact that it is only performed once every ten years, adding a huge sense of gravitas to each showing. Our top tier tickets grant us some of the best seats in the house. We enjoy a special Passion Play dinner during the two hour break.
Bidding Oberammergau and Bavaria a fond farewell today, we travel by rail through Germany to Munich (Standard Class) and then on to Cologne where we stay overnight. Our train arrives into Cologne by mid-afternoon, giving you ample to explore this superb city and its spectacular Gothic cathedral, home to the shrine of the Three Kings.
The following day on Day 8, we continue to Brussels where we transfer to the Eurostar service to London. Here our tour comes to an end.
For the Passion Play Performance you will be seated in category 1 seats, located at the front and centre of the theatre. Click image to view the seating plan.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
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Delicious meals included
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Hidden amongst the low hills of Bavaria