Table of contents
The history of the Kehlsteinhaus
With probably the most stunning panoramic view in Germany, the Kehlsteinhaus is by far the most beautiful sight in Berchtesgaden. Towering 1834 m above the roofs of Berchtesgaden, you can see up to 193 kilometres on a clear day! To this day, opinions still differ on the question of whether or not the entire Eagle's Nest project from the mountain road to the mountain hut on the summit was a gift for Hitler's 50th birthday on 20 April 1939. What is certain is that it is and remains one of the most impressive buildings in the world.
The Nazi engineer Martin Bormann chose the location carefully because he knew that Hitler loved the view from the teahouse he visited daily. It was no small feat, as the winding road required 3,000 workers who worked around the clock in dangerous conditions. While it took about 13 months to build the 6.5 kilometre long road, the house on the summit was completed a year earlier, in the autumn of 1938.
The interior of the house was elaborately decorated, including a marble fireplace, which was a gift from the Italian dictator Mussolini. However, despite the beauty and unique location, Hitler made only 13 official visits to the Eagle's Nest, most of them in the first year. This is rather strange when one considers that he spent almost 1/3 of his time in power at his Berghof on nearby Obersalzberg. The first time he visited the Eagle's Nest on September 16, 1938 and the last time on October 17, 1940.
The most common reasons that are known today are that Hitler did not like the change in air pressure caused by the high altitude in the Eagle's Nest and that he was afraid of being struck by lightning in the elevator or being exposed to an assassination attempt. Although Hitler himself did not often visit the site, his mistress Eva Braun visited the Eagle's Nest. Eva's sister Gretl even gave her wedding reception at the Eagle's Nest in 1944.
During the Allied conquest in 1945, the Eagle's Nest was spared from bombing by the British. In contrast to many other buildings on the Obersalzberg, it was not demolished but converted into a restaurant in 1952. The Eagle's Nest restaurant offers good food and a beautiful, sunny terrace.
Opening hours and prices
In summer, usually from May to October, the bus runs daily from 8:55 - 16:00 every 25 minutes.
Last descent 16:50
The Eagle's Nest is closed in winter from November to April!
Round trip incl. lift: per adult: 17,10 EUR
Children up to 14 years: 9,90 EUR
Reductions for families, groups, children (6-14 years) and on presentation of the guest card.
Dogs: free of charge
At the moment the Kehlsteinhaus is closed for the time being due to the Corona pandemic
The way to the Eagle's Nest
In order to appreciate the beauty of the Eagle's Nest and the surrounding nature, the architect Roderich Fick decided even then to overcome the last few metres up to the Eagle's Nest by means of an elevator inside the mountain.
Through a tunnel you can get to this elevator. It is mostly original. It is mirrored, gilded and equipped with green leather armchairs, which are usually folded up because of the high number of visitors. After about 124 meters with the elevator you will reach the interior of the Eagle's Nest.
If you don't want to take the elevator, you can also hike up. In about 20 minutes you will reach the summit.
What you have to do in any case is the "hike" to the summit cross. From here you have the most beautiful view of the Eagle's Nest and you can also take one of the postcard photos with a view of the valley.
The Eagle's Nest Road
After only 13 months of construction, the Eagle's Nest road was completed in 1938 and is a masterpiece of the Nazi engineer Martin Bormann and the builder of the German Autobahns Dr. Todt. The 6.5 kilometre long road with a difference in altitude of 700 metres and 5 tunnels is overcome with only one single bend. Because of the steep rocky outcrops there was simply no room for further bends, which makes the road even more impressive.
The ride on the mountain road by bus is exciting (not scary) and offers beautiful views. Since most of the road is single-lane, the bus stops a few times to wait for oncoming buses. The steep single-lane mountain road is closed to the public.
As the road is closed to public transport, the only way to reach Hitler's famous Eagle's Nest, apart from a walk of about 2 hours, is by bus. For this you have to get a special ticket at the ticket office at the Obersalzberg.
The Obersalzberg Documentation was commissioned by the Free State of Bavaria in 1999, conceived and realized by the Institute of Contemporary History and finally opened on October 20, 1999. The museum was built on the ruins of the former Hoher Göll guesthouse, above all so that the citizens could learn from the past and never repeat it. Historians were happy about this decision, because when the city gained control of six other former Nazi buildings in 1952, they tore them down for fear of glorification.
The original foundations of the former guest house Hoher Göll and large parts of the underground bunker system of the Nazis have been integrated into the present museum of the Documentation Centre, as tastefully as such a delicate subject can be. You can visit the underground bunker systems on your own and really feel transported back in time. We find the museum's information exhibits fascinating and very instructive and highly recommend that you combine your visit to the Eagle's Nest with a visit to the Obersalzberg Documentation Centre. The Documentation on Obersalzberg was built to receive 30,000-40,000 visitors a year, but is currently being expanded and redesigned due to the steady increase in the number of visitors, because of space problems.
Opening hours and prices Documentation Obersalzberg
April to October
Daily 9 am to 5 pm
Last admission: 4 pm
November to March
Tuesday - Sunday
10 am to 3 pm
Last admission: 2 pm
Closed on Mondays
Also closed on 1 January and 1 November and on 24, 25 and 31 December
The Obersalzberg Documentation is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hotel Zum Türken
Since the construction of the Türkenhäusl in 1630, a cosy country house has stood at this unique location. It is said that the name "Türkenhäusl" comes from the original owner, who was a veteran of the Turkish sieges of Vienna in the 16th century. The view from the hotel to the Turk, as it is called today, is unique and just as unique is its history.
In 1903 Karl Schuster bought the Türkenhäusl and within eight years converted it into the Hotel Zum Türken with its own butcher's shop. Before that, Schuster was also an innkeeper in the Purtschellerhaus am Hohen Göll, which is still located on the German-Austrian border, offers a stunningly beautiful view and is served during the summer months. The Hotel Zum Türken turned out to be a great success and attracted world famous guests. Among others Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria, Crown Prince Wilhelm & Princess Cecilie of Prussia and the German composer Johannes Brahms resided there.
When Hitler moved in next door in 1928 and began buying up all the buildings on the Obersalzberg near the Berghof, Schuster refused to sell the Hotel Zum Türken. Karl Schuster openly spoke out against the Nazis and was not happy that the presence of SS troops in the neighboring building was damaging his hotel business. In order to force him to sell, Hitler sent Schuster to the concentration camp Dachau for 3 weeks and the property was forcibly confiscated by the Nazis. During the Second World War, a Nazi guard post and an SS gate were set up at the edge of the parking lot. The Hotel Zum Türken was used as troop accommodation during this time.
Below the hotel is a large part of the still intact underground bunker complex, which was built in 1943 as an air-raid shelter and is now open to the public for inspection.
This part of the bunker complex was once connected to Hitler's and served as a secret escape route. On a tour of the underground bunkers you can see the walled entrance at the end, which once led to Hitler's Berghof.
You can also look through the gun windows and visit three underground prison cells.
There were a total of six separate bunker facilities on the Obersalzberg with over 6.5 kilometres of tunnels, all of which were 30 to 90 metres underground. Tunnel networks provided protection from air raids for thousands of people when needed. These deep bunker facilities protected about 3,000 people during the British bombing raids on Obersalzberg.
The property was heavily bombed at the end of the 2nd world war and the owner Karl Schuster was expropriated before.
After World War II, the Schuster/Scharfenberg family had to fight to buy back their damaged house so that it could not be torn down by the government. It's crazy when you consider that they had to buy their own house again even though it had been taken from them only a decade before.
The family then completely renovated the house and now runs the hotel in the 4th generation.
So when you visit, please consider how much hard work has gone into the property and the history behind it and be respectful.
Opening hours of the bunkers at Hotel Zum Türken
The bunker facilities below the hotel are open daily (except Tuesday) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from mid-April to the end of October and can be reached through a separate, specially marked entrance.
Please do not park in the hotel's car park if you "only" want to visit the bunkers.
Hiking to the Kehlsteinhaus
From the back corner
Start: Hintereck car park (near the Obersalzberg Documentation)
Walking time: 2 - 2 ½ hours
First you follow the Kehlstein road a bit uphill. The access prohibition is only valid after 2 km, so don't be deterred by the prohibition signs. From time to time you can also take a few shortcuts to get around the winding roads. After about half an hour (from the access ban) you turn left off the Kehlsteinstraße. On the way you can also see some of the small tarred roads that cross the forest everywhere. These were used as supply roads when the Eagle's Nest was built. About half an hour later, the path merges into a small tar road coming from Ofner Boden. The path now zigzags uphill for about an hour, with a moderate gradient and asphalt throughout, to the bus turning area directly below the Eagle's Nest.
The last one hundred metres of altitude difference can be covered in about 20 minutes on a panoramic zigzag path, also tarred.
At the moment a walk is the only possibility to visit the Eagle's Nest because of the Corona Pandemic!
From the Ofnerboden
Start: Ofnerboden (on the Rossfeld Panorama Road)
Walking time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours
The starting point here is the Ofner Boden. About 2.5 km from Maustelle Süd of the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse. The hiking trail up to the Kehlsteinhaus begins directly next to the hut. After only a few minutes it leads into a small tarred road, which is closed to public traffic. After about half an hour, the path leading up from the Hintereck car park joins it from the right. Continue as described above.
Remains from the "brown past"
Although it is reminiscent of the darkest epoch in German history, the former Hitler area and the documentation on Obersalzberg are still high up in the visitor rankings of Berchtesgaden's guests.
The Americans did a great job in their bombing raid on April 25, 1945. Only a few relics from the Hitler era are left. The return of large parts of the American restricted area to the German authorities in 1952 was conditional, among other things, on the removal of the ruins of Hitler's Berghof and the country houses of Göring and Bormann, and the bricking-up of the huge underground bunker facilities. This was done to ensure that Obersalzberg would not develop into a place of pilgrimage for right-wing extremists.
Today, trees and grass grow over most of the remains of buildings from the Third Reich. Apart from the Eagle's Nest, which was spared from the air raid, there are still some buildings that were heavily damaged in the bombing raids, but which have since been rebuilt. Bormann's former, huge estate on the access road from Berchtesgaden to the Obersalzberg invites you to play golf in summer and ski in winter in a breathtaking setting.
So there is not much left to see of the former imposing mountain fortress of Hitler.
However, this does not seem to harm the interest of tourists. Many people still flock to the Obersalzberg and the Eagle's Nest during the main tourist season, and certainly not only because of the beautiful view. The mountain just has its "brown past".
For the Berchtesgadener Land, today's popularity of the mountain is quite a rich source of income - to a certain extent a contribution to making amends for the destruction of the former holiday paradise by the Nazi rulers and for the bad reputation into which the Obersalzberg has fallen through no fault of its own.