Near the summit of the Kehlstein mountain in Berchtesgaden Germany sits The Kehlsteinhaus, also known as The Eagles Nest. It was here where Hitler and members of the Third Reich made plans for the war and mass murder. The building was built in 1939 for the Nazi party and was speculated to be a 50th birthday gift to Hitler, however this was not true.
In fact Hitler rarely visited Kehlsteinhaus.
Perhaps it was his fear of heights, or perhaps he wasn’t interested in the panoramic views below, but despite the horrific plans that occurred here I can’t deny the amazing views from the building. Kehlsteinhaus is one of the few buildings that was not touched by ally bombs during WWII, and is still largely preserved in its original state.
Before I moved to Germany, I remember sitting in my dads living room looking at the website of the hotel I currently work for. My dad and I were looking at the myriad of tours offered by the hotel, and The Eagles Nest was one of them. I’d not heard of this place until that day, and it planted a seed in both the brains of my dad and I.
One of the top places in Germany my dad wanted to see when he visited me last month was The Eagles Nest, so we planned for a day trip to see this important piece of history. I think places like this are important to see, but I don’t agree with the overly commercialized money making scheme that has been created around Kehlsteinhaus.
It’s one thing to pay for a ticket to enter and to visit, it’s another thing to sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, postcards, and stickers as if this were Disneyland. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to walk around wearing a sweatshirt that says Kehlsteinhaus on it. The building is now used as a restaurant, and a busy one at that, however that doesn’t take away from the original use of the building.
To reach Kehlsteinhaus, a bus is needed to drive about 20 minutes up the mountain. Once near the top, there is a tunnel built into the mountain (original tunnel) that leads to a golden elevator. The elevator room was designed to “dazzle” its guests and impress them with the glamour of the Nazi building. Although the building is now a restaurant, there are rooms inside that are still rich with history.
Inside one of the dining areas is an original fireplace that was gifted to Hitler from Mussolini. The fireplace is made of marble and has a beautiful brown color. The room that was once used as a sunroom is now used as an informational room with history of the Third Reich. The room has an amazing view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The mountain itself is a host to a network of trails, of which I hope to return someday to explore. The views of Königssee below are breathtaking.
We spent enough time at the top to walk around a bit for the views, and sat for a bier and a bite at the restaurant. It was surreal to see photos of Hitler taken in some of the places we stood, and I couldn’t help but feel distain for him. I’ve since seen someone outside of this area wearing a Kehlsteinhaus sweatshirt and it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Am I alone on this?
The Kehlstein mountain trails are seemingly endless, and if we’d had more time I’d have tried to explore more. The surrounding area of Berchtesgaden is a sight to see, and the German alps are massively dominant. These are the types of mountains that will swallow you whole if you’re not careful.
If you have any kind of interest in the history of WWII, I recommend a visit to Kehlsteinhaus. A place of terrible plannings, but a place of history nonetheless. Just do me a favor, and don’t buy any crazy souvenirs.
Q: What time in history interests you most? For me it’s WWII.
18 thoughts on “Kehlsteinhaus”
I never visited Kehlsteinhaus, but I did go to Dokumentation Obersalzburg twice. It was one of the places I took my parents. The museum was worthwhile. I’m sad to hear of all the kitsch for sale there.
Yea it was just odd to me the amount of stuff for sale.
Boots on the Trail
I’ll just note that the U.S. Holocaust Museum has a cafe but NOT a gift shop.
I must visit this museum!
Thank you for continuing the story of your great adventure!
Thank you for reading!
This sounds like such an eye-opening day trip. I can completely understand why it was at the top of your dad’s and your lists. I’m with you though… Souvenirs seem strange. I’d much rather do the same thing you did and take photos of the scenery as my souvenirs. Incredibly gorgeous views!
Yes, photos always work for souvenirs!
Lovely views but I shiver at the notes of dark history!
Me too. 😬
Gorgeous scenery, though it’s unnerving to think that a place of such beauty was the birthplace of some of the Nazi party’s horrific policies and ideas. I can’t recall when I first came across Eagle’s Nest, but it’s somewhere I’d be interested to visit. I agree with you that refreshments are fine but souvenirs feel tasteless and out of place. I’ve been to a few WW2-related museums in Japan, Germany, France and the US and can’t recall seeing souvenir shops in any of them!
The souvenir shop was just so out of place to me.
I talked to a woman at the US Holocaust museum who was 84 and a survivor. I asked her how she seemed so positive and happy. She showed me a photograph of her family – over 400 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren – and said, “I survived.”
In answer to your question, my favorite time period in history is the Enlightenment.
Thank you for another wonder post!
Wow, what a great comment! Thank you for sharing.
What an incredible place to visit, eerie and with so much history associated with it. Then there is just the spectacle of the location and incredible views from up there – wow! I am 100% with you on the idea of souvenirs and sweatshirts… seriously?? There’s so much history in Germany relating to different eras, it’s such an interesting place & there’s so much to see. I’m a bit biased though and I’m going to have to say 20th century Irish history fascinates me most!
I have to say, Irish history is awesome too! Europe has much more interesting history than America, that’s for sure!
Other than the plaque and the wars, The Middle Ages, maybe the 1800’s. Great pictures. Minus Adolf the place looked great. Isn’t that sad how one person can taint things for everyone?
All it takes is one!