Many places in Europe are marked by the scars and remnants of WWII, being from Ireland I was unaware of how in your face it can be in some areas. This might sound naive and it was in part, especially for someone who studied history. Its footprint is huge and forever will be. The Eagles Nest did not have very much to do with this atrocious period. It does, however, serve as a reminder of the excesses of the Nazi party and there place in history. Visting the Eagles nest should be on your visit list.
A little history of the Eagles Nest
The building I visited is known as the ‘Eagles Nest’ due to its location and its name in German is Kehlsteinhaus. It once served, along with others as a holiday home for Hitler in the town of Berchtesgaden.
This town is located at the foot of the Alps in southern Germany, in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Although it has a notorious connection to the past, this town has shaken that off and now stands as beautiful cultural and architectural gem.
The Eagles nest made up one of a number of buildings used in the region as resorts for high ranking Nazi party leaders. The Nazi party gifted the home to Hitler on his 50th birthday. It was designed to impress and acted as another sign of the Nazi parties power and indulgence in excess.
Hitler rarely visited the home as he was said to be afraid of heights. As the building stands 1,834 meters above sea level and can only be accessed by a brass elevator built into the mountain, it was a huge feat of engineering and a total waste. It survived the war and was opened in 1952 to the public.
Visiting the Eagles Nest
My friends and I were taking a road trip through parts of Europe and on our route we planned a visit to this very unique site. As it was October, we were very lucky to arrive when the building was open as it closes for the winter. This is due to snow and the dangers posed by trying to access the building.
We had come from Munich so the drive had taken a couple of hours, plus a little more time for sightseeing in Berchtesgaden. The area seems to have been trapped in a time capsule. There remains Bavarian architecture surrounded by the alps and crystal clear water streams. It was stunning and I would love to visit this region of Germany again.
Having gotten lost we eventually found the road which leads to a parking lot close to the infamous brass elevator. Here you buy your entrance tickets and await a bus which will bring you to the elevator.
Once you exit the bus there is a 100mtr long tunnel which cuts directly into the mountain rock. Once you walk through this you reach the elevator and ride the rest of the way up to the Eagles Nest.
To say the view was a let down would be an understatement. We could only see clouds and the tiny peaks of far away mountains. Still, the building itself and the location were absolutely incredible. Although we couldn’t see much you could definitely sense that this was an impressive place.
The building stands as it was any remnants of Hitlers time here have been erased, save for a few pictures. This I believe is the correct response, not to forget the past but not to highlight it unnecessarily. We spent a couple of hours checking out different viewpoints and the rooms of the building.
The function of the Eagles nest now is as a tourist attraction and a restaurant. The food and beers were pretty good from what I can recall. It was a fitting end to a day exploring one of the most unique and incredibly situated buildings I have visited.
Whats one of the most unique buildings you have visited?