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2022 Oberammergau Passion Play: Vienna & Salzburg

Program No. 23494RJ
Celebrate centuries of tradition as you attend Germany’s Oberammergau Passion Play, an artistic reenactment that happens once every 10 years, and explore Vienna, Salzburg and Munich.
9 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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At a Glance

In 1634, with the bubonic plague ravaging Europe, the people of the Bavarian town of Oberammergau pleaded with God, promising that they would perform a Passion Play — an artistic reenactment of the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ — if they were spared from the plague. The number of deaths declined, and the Oberammergauers attributed this blessing to their bargain; ever since, the entire town has come together every 10 years to perform the elaborate play. Be a part of this centuries-old tradition in 2022 by attending this epic performance. Spend the week learning about religious history in Oberammergau while also exploring the musical history of Vienna, cultural history in Munich and architectural history of Salzburg.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Attend the Oberammergau Passion Play, a tradition in which more than 2,000 villagers work to perform the life of Jesus through spoken drama, musical accompaniment and tableaux vivants (“living pictures”).
  • Visit the Melk Abbey, one of the most impressive baroque monasteries in Europe.
  • Explore the monuments dedicated to Vienna's greatest musicians – such as Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn – while learning about their cultural impact.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Vienna Map
by Berndtson & Berndtson
A handy laminated map of the city center.
Prost! The Story of German Beer
by Horst D. Dornbusch
The Munich-based aficionado weaves history and culture with the marvels and mysteries of German beer in this brief, authoritative guide.
Lonely Planet Central Europe
by Lonely Planet
With dozens of maps, color photographs and sections on history and culture, this practical guide introduces Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and their neighbors.
German History in Modern Times: Four Lives of the Nation
by William W. Hagen
This history of German-speaking central Europe offers a very wide perspective, emphasizing a succession of many-layered communal identities. It highlights the interplay of individual, society, culture and political power, contrasting German with Western patterns.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Medieval World
by Andrew Jotischky
Richly decorated with photographs, illustrations and full-color maps, this compact atlas explores the empires, people, cultures and religions of the Middle Ages, providing an excellent introduction to European history.
A Tramp Abroad
by Mark Twain, David Eggers (Introduction), Kerry Driscoll (Introduction)
Written 11 years after "Innocents Abroad," this is Twain's second foray into European travel. Filled with his characteristic wit and humorous observations, it documents his journeys through Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy.
Baroque and Rococo Art
by Germain Bazin
An excellent illustrated survey of Baroque and Rococo art and architecture, this volume in the acclaimed "World of Art" series is a good companion to the golden age of Middle Europe.
Oberammergau, The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play
by James Shapiro
A cultural history of Oberammergau and the monumental influence its Passion Play has had on its development.
The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria
by Christopher McIntosh
Ludwig II, the so-called Mad King of Bavaria, was one of the most enigmatic figures of the 19th century. He has gone down in history for his patronage to Richard Wagner, and for the palaces he created.
The German Way
by Hyde Flippo
A slim volume on the German-speaking world's cultural psyche, this is a great resource for anyone seeking insight into why the Germans do what they do.
Eyewitness Guide Vienna
by Eyewitness Guides
Take along this handy, compact guide featuring history, culture, color photography and excellent neighborhood maps.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
by Maria von Trapp
The true story of the von Trapp family singers, as remembered by Maria von Trapp herself. Maria was indeed a novice nun, but there ends her resemblance to the Julie Andrews character in the Sound of Music.
The Blue Flower
by Penelope Fitzgerald
Set in the Age of Goethe, this exquisitely written short novel is a fictional account of the life of the Romantic poet Novalis. It paints a vivid picture of German intellectual and mercantile life in the late 1700s.
Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture
by Carl E. Schorske
A landmark study of turn-of-the century Vienna -- one of the key chapters in modern intellectual history. Among its luminaries were Freud, Klimt, Kokoshka and Schoenberg.
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
by Peter Gay
This concise, entertaining portrait delves into Mozart's complex relationship with his father, his daunting role as a child prodigy and his exploration of new musical territory.
Munich Map
by Borch Maps
A handy, laminated map of Munich at a scale of 1:11,000.
Lonely Planet Austria
by Lonely Planet
A highly recommended introduction to Austrian history and culture, as well as a good overview of popular destinations including Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck and more.
The Habsburgs, Dynasty, Culture and Politics
by Paula Sutter Fichtner
A concise chronicle of the 600-year Habsburg Empire, essential for those interested in European history. Fichtner reveals how the dynasty used propaganda, political maneuvering and public performance to maintain control over an array of cultures and ethnicities.
The Third Man and The Fallen Idol
by Graham Greene
A haunting tale and penetrating portrait of Vienna after World War II, "The Third Man" is the result of Greene's collaboration with Carol Reed on the classic movie. "The Fallen Idol" is a separate tale of intrigue set in Britain.
Germany, Benelux, Austria Czech Republic Map
by Michelin Travel Publications
This handy map shows road and river routes from Amsterdam and Berlin to Prague, Vienna, Munich and Salzburg at a scale of 1:1,000,000.
Vienna Music Guide
by David L. Nelson
Written by a professional music tour director, this well-produced, independent guide provides excellent coverage of Vienna's musical heritage, with special attention given to its orchestras, museums, famous gravesites and opera houses.
The Burgermeister's Daughter, Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town
by Steven Ozment
Meticulously researched and absorbing, this narrative by a Harvard historian traces the legal battle of the daughter of a well-to-do family who was thrown out of her home and disinherited in 1525.
Every Pilgrim's Guide to Oberammergau and its Passion Play
by Michael Counsell
This pocket travel guide by a retired Anglican priest includes information on Oberammergau and the Passion Play, performed five times a day, five days a week for five months every 10 years. With hymns and bible readings.
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9 days
8 nights
16 meals
7 B 2 L 7 D
In Transit to Program
In Transit
Arrive Vienna, Orientation, Ringstrasse, Welcome Dinner
Leonardo Hotel Vienna

Activity note: Check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After arriving at the hotel and checking in, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Following our Orientation session, we will make our first acquaintance with the city on a motorcoach field trip along the Ringstrasse (Ring Road) that the Viennese like to call the most beautiful boulevard in the world. Extending a little over three miles (about five kilometers) and nearly 200 feet wide in places, it was the dream of Emperor Franz Joseph to connect the city’s suburbs to the center of imperial power. Grand architectural creations including palaces, museums, theaters, opera houses, and imperial buildings as well as parks and cafés sprang up. The inauguration ceremony was held in 1865, though completion took another fifty years.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a 3-course welcome dinner with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

The Imperial City, Schönbrunn, Free Time, Musical Traditions
Leonardo Hotel Vienna

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Two walking explorations at over 2KM in 1.5 hours each for a total of 4.6 KM over 3 hours. Standing during field trips. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the breakfast buffet offers typical European fare such as cold-cuts, cheeses, cereals, yogurt, fruit, breads, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach from the hotel for a walking field trip through the Imperial City of Vienna with a local expert. We will see the city's monuments to some of its greatest musicians such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven; the magnificent spire of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Haydn sang as a choirboy and Mozart was married; the Hofburg palace complex, seat of imperial power until 1918; the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), built in 1869 and reconstructed following World War II; and see the city's most important sites. We will then board a motorcoach and ride to Schönbrunn Palace, summer home of the Habsburgs. Its history goes back to the Middle Ages. After being added to Habsburg holdings in 1569, it was used as a royal hunting lodge, developing into a “château de plaisance” in the mid-1600s only to be severely damaged during the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. Eventually, it was transformed into the stately baroque residence we see today, magnificent in scale, design, and appointments. The complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its state apartments and gardens.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This block of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At a Heuriger, a traditional Austrian tavern, we’ll have a Viennese dinner.

Evening: An expert-led lecture on music traditions will round out the evening. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Danube River Valley, Melk, Salzburg
Hotel Scherer

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 6 km and standing during field trips.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Depart for Salzburg, driving along the Danube to the small town of Melk, known for its imposing Benedictine monastery, the Melk Abbey. Take an expert-led visit to see the spectacular interior of this nearly thousand-year-old monastery, one of the most impressive Baroque abbeys in Central Europe.

Lunch: In the Abbey's restaurant, enjoy a 2-course plated meal.

Afternoon: Continue on to Salzburg, known for its music heritage, including as the setting for the beloved movie, The Sound of Music. We will check into our hotel and then enjoy a guided walk through the heart of the Old City to take in such sights as the pedestrian shopping street, Getreidegasse, notable for the decorated guild signs above shops, and Mozart's birthplace at Number 9. We will stop inside the Salzburg Cathedral, and catch a glimpse of the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress, which looks down over the Old City.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

Salzkammergut Region, St. Gilgen, Wolfgangsee
Hotel Scherer

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; on/off a boat. Walking 3.5 km and standing during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out via motorcoach for a full-day field trip into the Salzkammergut region. The name translates as “salt estates” but this is a resort area of scenic lakes and mountains. Arriving at the small lakeside town of St. Gilgen, we will take a boat ride across the Wolfgangsee to the village of St. Wolfgang — named for an 8th century monk-bishop of the same name.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Our field trip in the Salzkammergut will continue.

Dinner: Walk to a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Free Time, Lake Chiemsee, Transfer to Oberammergau
Oberammergau Region
Oberammergau Area Hotels

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do more of what interests you most in Salzburg before we travel to Germany this afternoon.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy the local fare of your choice.

Afternoon: We will board our motorcoach and begin the transfer to Oberammergau. The drive will take us through breathtaking scenery to Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria near the border with Austria. We’ll stop here for coffee, then proceed to the village of Oberammergau and check in to our hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. We are here in the Ammer Valley, surrounded by the Ammergau Alps, as a result of The Plague — the Black Death — that erupted during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). It has been estimated that almost half the population of Europe perished. Like so many other places, the remote village of Oberammergau suffered greatly. The villagers prayed and pledged to perform the passion story every ten years if God would spare them. As the story goes, no one else in the village died of the plague, and the people of Oberammergau gave their first performance in 1634.

Oberammergau, 42nd Performance of the Passion Play
Oberammergau Region
Oberammergau Area Hotels

Activity note: Walking 2.5km during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out on a walking field trip to become acquainted with the charming village of Oberammergau. A delightful feature of the local architecture is Lüftlmalerei, a form of fresco painting unique to the Bavarian Alps, dating locally to the 18th century. The façades of many buildings are decorated with elaborate images based on biblical subjects and other religious figures.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will gather at an announced time and place to be in our seats before the performance. The 42nd performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play begins at 2:30 p.m. It tells the story of the last days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, performed entirely by more than 2,000 members of the local community out of a total population of a little more than 5,000. The five-hour presentation — divided into two parts with an intermission — takes place on the village’s open air stage. The passion story begins as Jesus enters Jerusalem, continuing through his death on the cross to his resurrection. The action is accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus.

Dinner: At a local restaurant during the three-hour intermission.

Evening: We will return to the theater for the second part of the Passion Play, ending at approximately 10:30 p.m. Back at the hotel, prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Transfer to Munich, City Excursion, Marienplatz, Free Time
Holiday Inn Munich City Centre

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking 2.5km and standing during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and travel into Munich for a day in the capital of Bavaria. We’ll begin aboard a motorcoach to see the Nymphenburg Palace and the Olympic Village, well preserved since the 1972 Summer Games and still in use today. We’ll end in the old city center and walk through the Marienplatz with a statue of the Virgin Mary and Child atop a marble column erected in 1638, the Gothic-revival City Hall, and famous Glockenspiel. Although it looks very old, the Glockenspiel, an elaborate clock, dates from 1908. It features 32 life-sized figures and 43 bells in a tower 260 feet (nearly 80 meters) high. We will walk to our hotel enjoying the city as we stroll along.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and what interests you most. We will rendezvous at a designated time and place to board our motorcoach and ride to our hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Transit

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. 3:00 a.m. for earliest airport transfers, continuing through the day depending on flight times. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel depending on flight times. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.