St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau
Visit the St. Peter and Paul Church in Oberammergau, a sacred place of peace and beauty. Be inspired by the magnificent architecture and tranquil atmosphere.
St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau: A Landmark of Southern German Baroque
The parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Oberammergau, located in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, is an outstanding example of southern German Baroque. The sacred architecture, which was brought to life between 1735 and 1749 according to designs by Joseph Schmuzer, contains masterpieces by Franz Xaver Schmädl and Matthäus Günther, manifested in sculptures, paintings and frescoes. The parish belongs to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
History of St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau
A church probably stood on this site as early as the ninth century, when a pre-Romanesque church was built, possibly replacing an even older wooden church. In this early phase, the Guelph Ethiko withdrew into a monastic life together with twelve companions. The 12th century “Chronicon of Weingarten” reports that Ethiko built a church in Ammergau, where he and his companions were eventually buried. In 1167, twelve farms, together with the right of presentation over the church, were donated to Kempten Abbey.
The development of the parish
In the 12th century, the parish of Oberammergau was founded from the canons’ monastery of Rottenbuch, with which it was closely connected in pastoral terms until secularisation. In the High Middle Ages, the first church was replaced by a Gothic building, which, however, had to make way for a new Baroque building at the beginning of the 18th century due to dilapidation.
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Architektur von St. Peter und Paul Oberammergau
The architectural centrepiece of St. Peter and Paul is a geostepped hall church. It is characterised by a narrower, almost square chancel and a tall, polygonal tower in the upper storey, crowned with a dome and forming the western end. Inside, rounded quarter circles forming the corners of the wall continue upwards to a concave triumphal arch.
Sacred art inside the church
The interior of St. Peter and Paul is richly decorated: main and four side altars, elaborate stuccowork, large-scale ceiling and wall frescoes as well as a pulpit and organ. Particularly striking is the motif of the rosary, which plays a role due to donations from the Oberammergau Rosary Brotherhood founded in 1648.
The Altars of St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau
The centre of the high altar is adorned with the image of the Mother of God as heavenly helper, made by Matthäus Günther. She appears as intercessor for those who ask for her intercession and contribute gifts. During the Easter season and the Passion Play, this image is replaced by a figure of the risen Christ. The magnificent decoration and figural ornamentation of the altarpiece are by Franz Xaver Schmädl. They include statues of the apostles Peter and Paul and of Saints Joseph and Joachim with their attributes.
The two side altars at the chancel arch, also works by Schmädl and his workshop, are dedicated to the theme of redemption through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. They present rare depictions, such as the “inner conversation” of the Trinity, which visualises God’s salvation decision.
Frescoes in St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau
The frescoes, painted by Matthäus Günther, take up the rosary theme in the choir room. They show in the dome the giving of the rosary to St Dominic and on the walls Christ teaching the Lord’s Prayer and Mary receiving the angel’s greeting. The fresco of the central dome narrates the completion of the apostles Peter and Paul in a magnificent composition.
Organ of St. Peter and Paul Oberammergau
Another remarkable element in the church of St. Peter and Paul is the organ. It was built in 1893 by G. F. Steinmeyer & Co. and housed in the historic case by the rococo master Balthasar Freiwiß. The instrument has been extended and modernised over the years, most recently by Steinmeyer in 1993, and today has 44 stops on three manuals and pedal.
In summary, the parish church of St. Peter and Paul in Oberammergau is a jewel of southern German Baroque. With its rich history, impressive architecture and magnificent furnishings, it invites visitors to immerse themselves in the world of sacred art and discover the spiritual heritage of Oberammergau.