A German alpine resort with a dark past

The Eagle’s Next has a dark past, so disappointing for its beauty today. It is open to the public and one of the biggest attractions in southern Germany.

The Eagle’s Nest (or in German Kehlsteinhous) will be oddly familiar to many people – almost everyone will have seen it from WWII footage. Today it is open seasonally and is a tourist site as well as a restaurant and beer garden. It offers some of the most spectacular views in the German Alps.

Another impressive German alpine attraction is Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria which was the inspiration for Disney’s castle. Another Alpine castles hotspot is the famous Count Dracula’s castles in Transylvania Romania – like Bran Castle.

History and background of the Eagle’s Nest

The Eagle’s Nest (or Kehlsteinhous) was built in the days of Nazi Germany just before World War II. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party. There are many photos of Adolf Hitler attending government and social gatherings here. He is known to have visited 14 times. Its 50th anniversary was considered the deadline for its completion.

The Eagle’s Nest is amazingly perched on a Kehlstein ridge at an elevation of 1,834 meters or 6,017 feet.

  • Elevation: 1,834 meters or 6,017 feet
  • Built: 1938

The main reception hall of the main building is dominated by an ornate Italian red marble fireplace (featured by Italian Benito Mussolini). When you visit, take a look at this chimney, you will see that some tokens are missing as victorious Allied soldiers chipped it to take pieces home as souvenirs.

The road up to Eagle’s Nest is only 4 meters or 13 feet wide and gains 800 meters or 2,600 feet over a distance of 6.5 kilometers or 4 miles.

At the base there is a large car park with a 124 meter or 407 foot entrance tunnel that ascends the remaining distance by lift. The tunnel is lined with marble. Typically, senior officials would simply be led through the tunnel to the elevator. Then the driver had to reverse because there was no space to turn around.

  • Bombing raid: The allies tried to bombard it but missed

The Allies tried to bomb the Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Next in 1945, but they couldn’t hit it. Instead, the Berghof area was badly damaged. As the Allies could not destroy it, after capturing it, they used it as a military command post until 1960, when it was returned to the German state of Bavaria.

  • Military command post: It was used as an Allied military command post until 1960

Related: A comprehensive system of ‘escape’ tunnels still exists beneath Berlin, with decades of history behind its creation

Visit the Eagle’s Nest today

Today the building is owned by a charity and is open to the public (but not in winter and reopens in May). Instead of being the regime’s leaders’ conference center, it serves as a restaurant offering indoor dining and an outdoor cafe.

  • Restaurants: Today it is a restaurant and beer garden

It is now a popular tourist attraction – especially for those interested in wartime history. That being said, the building doesn’t mention much of its past today.

Since 1952 the road has been closed because it is considered too dangerous, so visitors must walk to the house. At the time of writing, the road is also closed due to the construction of road works.

  • Raise: Takes about two hours from Obersalzber
  • Bus: There is also a bus from the Obersalzberg documentation center

Related: Berlin was once home to a maze of over 1,000 bunkers, and many are open to the public today

Eagle’s Nest and Bunkers Tour

Today we take a visit to the Eagle’s Nest. Visitors are given a detailed historical account of the construction and use of the infamous Eagle’s Nest. Learn how it was built as a unique mountaintop conference center.

As the former residence of the Führer and the second seat of power in the Reich, there is also a large system of underground bunkers. Tours also explore some of these bunkers which were built to function as the regime’s last redoubt.

On the driving tour you will see some of the original buildings from the 1930s, buildings used as Albert Speer’s home, corporate headquarters, state security service headquarters, and more.

We will also see original photographs of buildings that are no longer standing today.

The tour will take a basement to see the bunker complexes that extend into the mountain. This vast fortress-like system was built as an air-raid shelter, a war headquarters, and even as “the last possible refuge for the rulers of the Reich”.

  • Bus: The tour is done in a specially equipped mountain bus
  • Lift: Use the original brass-lined elevator to the Eagle’s Nest
  • Season: Every day from mid-May to October (provided the Nid d’Aigle is open)

Next: Visit Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, which has inspired so many other legendary castles

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