You feel the history of the place well before you walk through the marble tunnel to the polished brass elevator that carries you more than 400 feet to the Eagle’s Nest. You feel it when you see the broken old bricks that were once the steps leading to the door of the most famous villain in modern history. You feel it when see the old guard hut still standing stoically almost 80 years since Nazis stood in it. Eagle’s Nest reputation precedes a visit you make to it.
The German word for Eagle’s Nest is Kehlsteinhaus. It remains largely the same as it was when Hitler and the worst of humanity plotted invasions and mass extermination of large segments of the population within reach of this mountainous enclave. That it was spared during the bombing raids of 1945 or the subsequent destruction of Hitler’s prized home is a lucky break. For all its dark history, Eagle’s Nest today is a beautiful place to spend a day.
Despite the complexity of building a mountain road with its network of bridges and tunnels, cutting an entry tunnel and elevator shaft out of rock and dropping a building on top of it all, thousands of skilled laborers got it done in just over a year. For Hitler, a guy afraid if heights, that drive up must have been terrifying. Good. Who wants to think of him enjoying it?
Walking around the mountaintop on a beautiful day, the world opens up around you. The stunning Berchtesgaden Alps surround you and sparkling Lake Königssee shimmers below. This place is a wonder. But don’t plan to stay for long at the top. People are moved in and out with quick efficiency. It may have started as a Nazi lair designed to awe visitors, but today it’s a major tourist attraction. Still in the business of awe, but very much on a tight schedule.