The mountains of Bavaria close to the Austrian border, known as the Oberbayern have several distinctive qualities. Within 20 km of each other are the towns of Oberammergau, Mittenwald and Garmish-Partenkirchen, once separate towns now conjoined. Oberammergau is world famous for its Passion Play, founded in 1634 after a plague. Mittenwald is the hometown of world-famous violins, violas, and cellos. Garmish-Partenkirchen is a resort town of stunning beauty, very active in both summer and winter. Goethe visited the area in 1786 and described the village of Mittenwald, "a living picture book."
Important to our SFA/SFLA project are the striking frescoes of this region. A rest area for medieval Christian pilgrims, the outdoor frescoes—known as luftlmalerei (literally, "paintings in the air") are remarkable and they reveal a lively, colorful Bavarian style of painting that is unique. Originally, these frescoes depicted themes from Scripture, but currently he topics are varied, ranging from fables and fairy-tales, through history, and Christian iconography. St. Francis occasionally can be seen in the Oberbayern luftmalerei.