Kehlsteinhaus is a building resembling a chalet in the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany. It was built in 1937 to serve as a conference center for the National Socialist Party. Kehlsteinhaus is better known as the “Eagle’s Nest” because of its position on a rocky outcrop on the side of the Hoher Göll mountain. This name was given by André François-Poncet (1887-1978), then ambassador of France in Germany, during a visit he made and that impressed him greatly. It is located a few kilometers from the Berghof, one of the main homes of Adolf Hitler, with whom we often tend to confuse it.
It was during a visit to Munich that I booked a day trip to visit the Eagle’s Nest. We leave early in the morning by bus to arrive mid morning in Berchtesgaden, where we first visit the documentation center.
This center has a permanent exhibition organized by the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte based in Munich and Berlin) on the Obersalzberg, tourist destination since the mid-19th century and resort of Hitler since 1923. The region experienced a major change in 1933. When he was appointed Chancellor of the Reich on January 30, 1933, Hitler acquired the Wachenfeld house which he has already leased since 1928 and, with some work, he turned it into a residence, the Berghof. However, all facilities were destroyed by bombing and the only element remaining from that time is the bunker which you can still visit today.
We then have an hour to eat in a restaurant close by which offers typical Bavarian meals. Then it’s another bus which takes us to Eagle’s Nest. Indeed, since 1952, the road is closed to cars and is available only to special buses that transport annually over a quarter of a million passengers to this unique site. Our bus then starts climbing Obersalzberg road to the upper parking lot of the Eagle’s Nest. This road is also considered a masterpiece of engineering and is quite unique. Indeed, the significant height difference of 740m is crossed by a road having only one hairpin bend on the steep face of the south-eastern flank of Kehlstein mountain. Once at the top car park, a 124m long tunnel leads us into the heart of the mountain where a brass elevator takes us 124m up into the main building in only 41 seconds.
Overlooking the Berchtesgaden area, it is primarily a natural site offering a spectacular panoramic view (that’s the least I can say) up to 200 km! And today, the visibility is almost perfect, lucky me!
It is also a historical site whose construction was commissioned by Martin Bormann and offered to Hitler on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. It was then a tea house to be used for receiving visitors. With more than 3,000 workers, the project took place on a monumental scale: the Eagle’s Nest and its access road – the highest in Germany – were completed in only 13 months of work . However, Hitler did not often took the high mountain road carved into the cliff because he suffered from dizziness. After the war, thanks to the regional prefect Mr. Jacob, the Eagle’s Nest escaped imminent destruction. Today, it is open to the public and can be seen in its original form. Since 1960, it is managed by the Berchtesgaden Office of Tourism and serves as mountain restaurant.
After a good two hours on the spot where I took loads of pictures, especially panoramic ones, it is time to go down the same road and take the bus back to Munich.