Oberammergau & The ‘Dream Castles’ of Bavaria
Fairytale fortresses, Alpine scenery and the legendary once-a-decade Passion Play with TV art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon
European travel experiences do not come much more memorable and iconic than the Oberammergau Passion Play. Held once a decade, this epic performance by the inhabitants of a beautiful Bavarian town tells the story of Christ from his entry into Jerusalem to the resurrection. Miss this extraordinary event in 2020 and you’ll be waiting until 2030 for another opportunity!
This exclusive Oberammergau itinerary, combining the spectacle and drama of the Passion Play with a tour of the fairytale castles of Bavaria, has been created especially for Mail on Sunday readers. You will be joined for part of the journey by acclaimed art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, who featured Neuschwanstein Castle in his television series Art of Germany.
Snow-capped Alpine peaks, brooding forest lakes and colourful wildflower meadows provide a stunning backdrop to the castles and palaces built by ‘mad’ King Ludwig II in the 19th century. We visit the epitome of the ‘dream castle’, Neuschwanstein, along with Herrenchiemsee Palace and Castle Berg. Twin strands of tragedy are brought together in the history of the Passion Play, originally performed to ward off the plague, and the story of Ludwig, who bankrupted Bavaria to build astonishing Romantic monuments to a glory and philosophy already in its dying embers.
Tickets and quality accommodation in the Oberammergau area are strictly limited, and early bookings are strongly recommended.
- The once-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play
- Acclaimed TV art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon joins us in appreciation of the fantasy castles of Bavaria
- A stay in majestic Alpine surroundings in Füssen, near Neuschwanstein Castle
We depart in the morning from London on a direct flight to Munich. On arrival we head to our hotel, the AM Platzl Munich, stopping for lunch on the way. After check-in, join us on an optional walking tour of Munich or explore at your leisure. Dinner this evening is at the famous Hofbrauhaus.
Today we drive to the Chiemsee, Bavaria’s largest lake, where Ludwig realised his final castle dream by building Herrenchiemsee Palace on Herreninsel Island. Building began in 1878, directly inspired by Ludwig’s visit to the Palace of Versailles, and this is truly a monument to royal megalomania: 35 seamstresses spent seven years sewing the cover for the royal bed alone. The most extraordinary room here is the gilded Hall of Mirrors, best seen by candlelight, which arguably outshines the original in Versailles. After lunch (not included) we explore the manicured palace grounds before returning to Munich, where the evening is at your leisure.
Munich • Oberammergau
Following a relaxing we drive south through the increasingly beautiful scenery of the Bavarian Alps, stopping for lunch en route to the delightful town of Oberammergau. We will check-in to our hotel and gather together in the afternoon to attend a performance of the Passion Play, Dinner is included during the intermission.
Oberammergau • Füssen • Hohenschwangen
We will have a leisurely morning this morning after our late night at the play. We will then travel the short journey to Füssen, our home for the next two nights, located in the heart of the Bavarian countryside and full of Ludwig history, this is the perfect place to embark on our exploration of the fairy-tale castles. Enroute we will stop at Hohenschwangen, Ludwig’s childhood home, for a guided tour of the fortress and grounds with their alpine plants and flowers.
Oberammergau • Neuschwanstein
Today is dedicated to Ludwig’s crowning glory and the embodiment of his wildest Romantic fantasies – the stunning castle of Neuschwanstein. Featuring in numerous films, its soaring turrets and wedding-cake walls draw an amazing 1.3 million visitors per year. Built in the Romanesque Revival style, the castle was the scene of Ludwig’s arrest in 1886 by his courtiers, exasperated by his eccentricities and profligacy. Andrew Graham-Dixon will join us for lunch and a short lecture before entry to the castle. We will spend most of the day here before returning in the afternoon to our hotel. Dinner is included tonight.
After breakfast on our final day, we return to Munich via Castle Berg on the Starnbergersee. This country manor house – small and modest by Ludwig’s grandiose standards – was where the King was confined after his deposition and declared insane. A few days later, he and his physician were found drowned in the lake. The mysterious double death has never been explained. We pay our respects at his tomb in Munich’s St Michael’s Church and head to the airport for a lunchtime flight back to London.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Local Travel - Comfortable coach transport
- Meals - As mentioned in itinerary
- TC2 ticket for the Passion Play
- Visits to Chiemsee and Herreninsel Island, Neuschwanstein Castle, Schloss Hohenschwangen and Castle Berg
- Hotels - Accommodation in hand-picked hotels.