Once we settled in, we walked into the small town of Oberammergau which means upper water district. The town down the street is Unterammergau which means lower water district. It is fun to say them, but those names aren’t very flowery.
The name Ammergau (Ammer = water, Gau = district) is recorded as early as the end of the 9th century as the name of the region and around 1150 as village name. It was famous for its woodcarvers and their products.
The founding of the Monastery of Ettal in 1330 and the trade route from Venice to Augsburg were major factors in the economic and cultural development of Oberammergau. This not only helped increase the income of the Oberammergauers, but also put the village in direct contact with the rest of the world.
In 1633, the Plague broke out in Oberammergau. As a result of the many deaths, the Village Counselors swore to perform a Passion Play every 10 years if there were no more victims. The epidemic passed, there were no more victims, and in 1634, the villagers honored their oath and performed the Passion Play for the first time. By the 19th century the Oberammergau Passion Play had become world famous, and in the 20th century it attracted nearly half a million visitors every season.
Tomorrow we will see the Passionsspiele. I can’t wait!!!