'The "Eagle′s Nest" of Berchtesgaden
The Kehlsteinhaus or "Eagle′s Nest" is the famous mountain retreat of Adolf Hitler in the mountains of Berchtesgaden. Today, the Kehlsteinhaus is a memorial site and attracts thousands of visitors every year - the Eagle′s Nest has developed from a prestige object of allied bombings to Berchtesgaden′s primary attraction. Day-trips to the Kehlsteinhaus from Salzburg are easy and very popular. Keep in mind though, that the Eagle′s Nest is very crowded and the bus services that take tourists up to the Kehlsteineinhaus area are seriously expensive.
The Kehlsteinhaus was also called "Teahouse at the Kehlstein" or "Diplomatenhaus" (Diplomat′s House) by the Nazis. In English, allied propaganda over-emphasised the significance of the building and dubbed it "Eagle′s Nest". Thereby, the Kehlsteinhaus earned itself a somewhat undeserved reputation among Americans and British. In fact, Hitler himself visited the Kehlsteinhaus only about 10 times. The Eagle′s Nest had been designed by Martin Bohrmann and it was the present of the Nazi party for Hitler′s 50th birthday in 1939.
Construction of the Kehlsteinhaus / Eagle′s Nest
The interior′s of the Eagle′s Nest consist of a dining room, a working salon, a living room, a drawing room, a room for guards, a kitchen and a large basement. Marble was a key-ingredient to the interiors: Real marble from the Italian town of Carrera and fake marble (a certain kind of decorative limestone) from the nearby Untersberg were used. The chimney was donated by fellow Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. The Kehlsteinhaus was a bit of a treasure trove: It cost the party an impressive 30 Million Reichsmark, approximately 150 Million Euros in today′s value.
The Eagle′s Nest / Kehlsteinhaus was built in only one year. When the area around the Obersalzberg mountain became the target of allied bombings, Hitler finally refrained from going there. The bombs failed to destroy the Kehlsteinhaus, because it sits on the top of a cliff and would require a very precisely placed bomb. After the war, the Kehlsteinhaus became the property of the German federal province Bavaria. The allied troops destroyed the army bases around Obersalzberg and the tunnels that connected the Kehlsteinhaus / Eagle′s Nest area with the army bases at the mountain′s base and the region around Salzburg.
For a while, the US troops that were in charge with the administration of the area considered to destroy the Kehlsteinhaus. Local politicians managed to prevent this from happening, and gradually, the Eagle′s Nest was transformed into a memorial site and tourist attraction. Today, the inside of the Eagle′s Nest houses a restaurant and a museum that presents the Nazi past of the building.
Visiting the Kehlsteinhaus / Eagle′s Nest from Salzburg
The Eagle′s Nest is closed during winter, usually between November and April. Getting to the Kehlsteinhaus from Salzburg is easy: From the base in Berchtesgaden, busses take visitors up to the entrance area, approximately 124 metres underneath the Eagle′s Nest. From here, an authentic elevator with brass interiors takes tourists directly up to the Kehlsteinhaus′ museum rooms.
On clear days, the scenery from the Eagle′s Nest and its viewing platform is particularly impressive: You can see far into the Alps of Salzburg, the Salzkammergut, Tyrol and Bavaria. Be warned, though: The Kehlsteinhaus / Eagle′s Nest can be very crowded at the peak of the main season! For more remote scenery, hiking pretty much anywhere else might be the better idea.
Official Website of the Kehlsteinhaus - opens in new window
Wikipedia on the Kehlsteinhaus
Pictures of the Kehlsteinhaus / Eagle′s Nest
Information on tours to the Eagle′s Nest