Europe > Central Europe > Austria > Tyrol > Oberndorf bei Salzburg and Laufen (Bavaria)
Oberndorf bei Salzburg — in Austria's Tyrol region — and Laufen — in Bavaria, Germany — face each other across the River Salzach. The Christmas carol Silent Night was composed and first performed in Oberndorf.
- Salzburg is connected to Oberndorf by several local trains each day (30min).
- Munich is about 2h by train from Laufen (listed as Laufen(Oberbay) in railway timetables). You may need to change trains in Mühldorf.
The towns are small with no public transport (other than the train links and buses to nearby villages), but you can walk around with ease. There are two bridges between Laufen and Oberndorf - a footbridge and a road bridge.
- Silent Night Chapel, 7 Stille Nacht Platz (Near the head of the river bend). Franz Gruber added the melody to Joseph Mohr's poem on Christmas in early 19th century in church on this site, thereby creating the Christmas carol "Silent Night", which was first performed with guitar and vocals.
The original church was damaged by flooding, demolished and then replaced by the current chapel, which stands next to Joseph Mohr's home and a museum that houses various displays on Mohr, Gruber, and Silent Night and also a gift shop. The gift shop sells various Silent Night-themed items, such as candles and snow globes.
- 1 Laufen Castle (Oflag VII-C), Schlossplatz 1 (Near the road bridge on the German side). Now an Italian restaurant but formerly one of the WWII prisoner of war camps from which several British officers escaped, earning them an 'upgrade' to Colditz (and an eventually successful escape to Switzerland).
Each Christmas Eve (24 Dec) Silent Night is sung in front of the chapel .
The Silent Night Museum sells various Christmas-related items, such as candles with Silent Night motif, snow globes playing Silent Night tunes, etc. As of 2005, they only accept cash, and the items are somewhat expensive (€6 for a small candle, more than €30 for a snow globe, etc), but people still buy them for the sake of having bought them from the Silent Night Museum.
Accommodation options are healthier in Laufen, though there are a few places in Oberndorf.