Visit the Oberammergau painted houses and wood carving – in Bavaria, Germany | Heather on her travels

Visit the Oberammergau painted houses and wood carving – in Bavaria, Germany

Painted Houses of Oberammergau Germany

On our trip to see the Passion Play in Germany, we strolled around town admiring the Oberammergau painted houses or Luftmalerei for which this small Bavarian town is renowned. The famous Oberammergau Passion Play only takes place every 10 years and in the years in between, the town is still a popular place to visit with picturesque, painted Alpine houses with carved balconies fringed with pink and red geraniums.

Update: The 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play has been postponed to 2022 due to the Corona Pandemic – more information on the official website.

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

Oberammergau wood carving

Oberammergau has also been known for centuries as a centre of skilled wood carving, as farmers needed to find ways to earn extra income through the long hard winters, when the village was under snow. Wood carvers from Oberammergau were renowned for their skill, some specialising in crucifixes, others in wooden painted religious figures and crib scenes, others in brightly coloured toys, using locally grown linden and alder wood.

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

As the industry grew, street traders or Kraxenberger would travel all over Europe selling these carvings from wooden frames or Kraxe on their backs and in the 18th and 19th centuries residents left the village to set up successful retail businesses selling the wood carvings.

If you are interested in visiting the Oberammergau Passion Play 2020 read my article: Tips for seeing the Oberammergau Passion Play

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

Oberammergau Painted Houses

The Oberammergau painted houses originated from the 18th century and started when the Oberammergau houses were given painted window surrounds to embellish the simple facades, and later religious and fairy tale scenes became popular. The term for these painted houses or Luftmalerei originated from one of the earliest local artists ‘Franz Seraph Zwinck’ who lived in the house called Zum Luftl.

Listen to my Podcast: The Oberammergau Passion Play and visit to Altotting

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

Franz Seraph Zwinck also designed one of the local parish churches and painted the well known Pilatus house which is now used as a craft gallery with wood carving demonstrations and has an attractive small formal garden. In the 20th century the religious themes were extended to fairy tales and some of the Bavarian painted houses are covered with scenes from Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel using the same traditional style.

Enjoy a hassle-free tour to Linderhof Palace, the quaint little town of Oberammergau, home of the Passion Play, and finally the most visited castle in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle, in the heart of the Bavarian Alps

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

If you’d like to learn more about the history of wood carving in Oberammergau you can visit the small local history museum in the centre of town with displays of modern and traditional carvings and objects – the craft is very much alive today and you can see demonstrations in locations such as the Pilatus House.

Read more from this trip: A pilgrimage to see the Black Madonna at Altötting in Germany

The Village of Oberammergau Photo

The Village of Oberammergau

There are plenty of shops in Oberammergau selling the carved, painted wooden figures and crucifix and others selling wooden toys and Christmas decorations. The town is well worth a visit in the summer with plenty of beautiful walks in the surrounding mountains and is a good base to see local cultural attractions such as the decorative Royal Palace and gardens at Linderhof and the Benedictine Abbey at Ettal.

Explore more of the region on this day-trip to the splendid castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, lunch in Hohenschwangau, and through the little town of Oberammergau

Hotels in Oberammergau

If you are booking your accommodation independently or visiting outside the period of the Oberammergau Passion Play, here are some hotels in Oberammergau that we recommend, but if none of these suit you, look at other hotels in Oberammergau.

Hotel Maximilian in Oberammergau – A 5 star Alpine design hotel that’s centrally located in the heart of Oberammergau, with a spa and sauna, a traditional Bavarian bar and upscale restaurant.

Hotel Maxmilian in Oberammergau

Hotel Maximilian in Oberammergau

Romantik Hotel Böld in Oberammergau – located by the river Ammer, on the edge of Oberammergau town centre, this 4 star hotel offers contemporary Bavarian decor and scenic views of the Alps.

Romantik Hotel Bold in Oberammergau

Romantik Hotel Bold in Oberammergau

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau – A 55 room 4 star Alpine style hotel with spa and indoor swimming pool, that’s on the edge of Oberammergau, just across the river from the old town.

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau

Parkhotel Sonnenhof in Oberammergau

Oberammergau Passion Play – Visitor Resources

To plan your visit to Oberammergau check out the official Oberammergau Passion Play Passionsspiele website and the Oberammergau official tourism website

You can also get ideas for visiting Germany on the Germany Travel official tourism website and on the Bavaria tourism website.

Our 5 day tour to the Oberammergau Passion Play and other places in the region was booked with Pax Travel who organise holidays to many other pilgrimage destinations.

Looking for a guide to the Oberammergau passion play? We recommend The Pilgrim’s Guide to Oberammergau. If you need a guidebook for visiting Germany we recommend the DK Eyewitness Germany Travel Guide or the Lonely Planet Germany Travel Guide.

More articles about Oberammergau and the Passion Play

Tips for seeing the Oberammergau Passion Play
An introduction to the Oberammergau Passion Play
Podcast – The Oberammergau Passion Play – listen to the live sounds

More articles about our visit to Altötting from this trip to Bavaria

A pilgrimage to see the Black Madonna at Altötting in Germany
Hotels in Altötting – Review of Hotel Zur Post
Bavarian Lake swimming in the Badesee near Altötting
Delicious Bavarian Food – Wiener Schnitzel and cherries

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Oberammergau painted houses Germany

This article is originally published at – Read the original article here

Photo Credits: Passion Play photos are copyright of the Oberammergau Passion Play and other photos by Heather Cowper

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  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Love the painted houses what a cool idea, I have bever seen that before.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 10:05 am

    some of the players from the Oberamemrgau Passion Play gave a presentation we went to when I was small — still remember that. thanks for sharing your trip.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Love the paintings on the buildings! It makes it so whimsical.

  • Reply
    Randy @thelollipoproad
    July 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    We were in Germany many years ago during the holiday season and we really enjoyed visiting Oberammergau…it truly is a picture perfect Bavarian village.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    July 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I knew about the passion play but I had no idea about Oberammergau’s Bavarian charms. You’ve made me want to vist!

  • Reply
    Mark H
    July 17, 2010 at 2:36 am

    The house painting makes for such a colourful village. Fine photos.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2010 at 4:35 am

    One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a necklace with beautifully carved wooden beads that I got from a little wood shop in Oberammergau. Thanks for sharing a little more history about the town.

  • Reply
    Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels
    July 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Reminds me of Lucerne, Switzerland, where all the houses in the old town were painted, although they weren’t of religious scenes r fairy tales. Too bad you only had a day to wander around. I’d have wanted to wander forever.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    July 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Nice picture! very admiring…

  • Reply
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    July 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm

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    August 8, 2010 at 9:34 am

    […] there and our afternoon cycling to the swimming lake or badesee. I’ll tell you about the painted houses of Oberammergau and wood carvings, with useful information for attending the Passion Play and my impressions of the […]

  • Reply
    Evelyn Chutes
    September 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    What wonderful pictures of Oberammergau. We were at the play in August. I was especially interested in the wood carving of Adam and Eve. I can’t remember the name of the artist and would like to know what the other three carvings are. I know one was Cain slaying Abel. Would like to know how to get copies of some of your pictures. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    September 7, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    @ Evelyn Chutes Yes I remember those wonderful wood carvings, they were in the local Oberammergau museum – I found this link and believe they could be the work of Michael Joseph Fux

    You can find all my pictures on my Flickr site – you can follow the link from the Flickr pictures at the bottom of the post or the link is below – you are welcome to download them and if you wish to use for commercial purposes, please credit them to Heather on her travels

  • Reply
    October 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I think your descriptions (text and images) of the town were terrific. After all, the play is only on once every decade; tourists on the other hand come all the time. You are the only blog I could find that describes what to see on the other 9 years.

    Thanks for the link

  • Reply
    Ashley Renaud
    October 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I loved your article. I went to the Passion Play in 2000 and enjoyed it and the town immensely.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    October 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    @ Hels Yes, Oberammergau is definitely a special place to visit even when the passion play’s not on.

    @ Ashley – so pleased you enjoyed reading the article and hope it brings back happy memories from your previous visit

  • Reply
    Bronze sculptures for sale
    December 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Once the final sculpture is complete it will be molded and cast in whatever material you choose.

  • Reply
    January 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    awesome, what a great way to make houses look more interesting, some of those designs are beautiful.

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    February 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    @ Alex Yes I love all kinds of street art and it’s interesting to see it used in a traditional setting rather than being branded as vandalism

  • Reply
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