Part of the appeal of taking a trip to Salzburg was its proximity to Berchtesgaden, Germany.
If I told you to imagine rural Europe, this is the kind of town you’d think of. Cows chilling in the fields, grass so green it looks fake, rolling hills dotted with cottages and surrounded by mountains. The main attraction here: Kehlsteinhaus or The Eagle’s Nest.
If you aren’t familiar with The Eagle’s Nest, here’s the skinny:
- It was constructed over 13 months from 1937 to 1938 as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler from Martin Bormann and the Nazi party.
- It cost $30 million Reich Marks, which would be more than $100 million in today’s money (adjusting for inflation).
- The house is situated right smack on top of the Kehlstein Mountains at an elevation of 6,000 feet.
- The engineering used to build this house was way ahead of its time. (We got to see old pictures of men with jack hammers drilling the road into the mountain.) Once completed, it was used in Nazi propaganda to show the strength of Germany.
- Hitler wasn’t a fan of the drive up the mountain and rarely visited the house. (There’s a lower house called the Berghof, which he preferred.) I originally thought that was ridiculous (especially considering how expensive it was to build the place), but after taking a ride up, I don’t blame him! I can’t imagine going up that road in a car from the 1930’s! It’s said that the fact that Hitler rarely visited accounts for the reason that it was spared. (The Berghof and most everwhere else was reduced to rubble at the end of the war.)
- To get to the top, you drive halfway up the mountain, take a bus up most the rest of the way, then take an elevator 4 more stories up.
- Eva Braun’s sister was married here in 1944.
- There’s not much to see inside the house; it is now a restaurant. Besides, with these views, everyone spends their time on the mountain looking outward.
Stephen and I made two visits. We read online that the day before we drove down, it was closed. (It’s only open May-October and because of the rough drive up, bad weather leads to closures.) We feared that we’d run into that same problem, so we beelined there after checking into our Salzburg hotel. We arrived in time for the last tour of the day. That meant we only got 50 minutes on the mountain, not nearly enough time.
We returned on Sunday before hitting the road to head home. It was a much clearer day and we were able to climb to some of the higher parts of the mountain.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a view more beautiful! I’ve never been a mountain person before, but now I get the appeal. If only driving up wasn’t so scary!
Ever been to The Eagle’s Nest? How do you do with heights? I didn’t think I was scared of them before, but I was honestly really effing scared while I was up there!*