If you want to combine great Alpine scenery with a fascinating look into World War II history, a visit to Kehlsteinhaus is a must! This chalet-style lodge is perched on top of the Hoher Goll, or Kehlstein. When translated it means “Eagle’s Nest”, which gave the lodge its very appropriate name. The location alone is a good reason to visit, but there is the added fascination as it was Adolf Hitler’s retreat.
Getting to Kehlsteinhaus
You can reach Kehlsteinhaus from Salzburg via a stunningly beautiful drive through the mountain scenery. It is about 42 km distance, but you will need to purchase a vignette and stick it to your windscreen if you want to drive on the main Austrian highway. The other must-have is a reflective jacket which should be provided with any hire car. It’s worth checking you have one before leaving the car hire depot or it could cost you an expensive fine.
Drive through the mountains until you reach the car park and gift shop/ticket office for Kehlsteinhaus. It is still quite a way from the actual Eagle’s Nest but visitors have to travel the final stage in a bus. The journey up Eagle’s Nest Road is a great opportunity to take some fabulous photographs of the mountain scenery while ascending the narrow road, which is quite a feat of engineering. It was blasted out of the rock and includes five tunnels and a tight hairpin bend.
On arrival, visitors are escorted through a tunnel hewn into the centre of the rock. Access is James Bond-style, ascending inside the mountain in a fabulous brass elevator to emerge 111 metres (365 feet) higher at the house. It truly is an eyrie, or eagle’s nest, perched on the very top of the peak. It is amazing to think that Hitler and his closest officers must have travelled in that same elevator many times as it is the only means of access to the house.
Hitler’s Birthday Gift
Kehlsteinhaus was built for Hitler by the Nazi party as a 50th birthday gift. It stands at an elevation of 1,834 metres (6,017 feet) as a symbolic summit of power for a man determined to conquer Europe, if not the world.
The chalet-style lodge has simple rustic furnishings and an interesting display of photographs of Hitler visiting Kehlsteinhaus. The accommodation is very simple with a large living room and a huge fireplace. Plain stone walls are lit by candle sconces and beamed ceilings look down on rows of restaurant tables which are well used in inclement weather. It can be rather a chilly and exposed location, so take an extra sweater or jacket for this lofty visit.
On sunny days, the outdoor terrace is far more impressive. Crisp mountain air and distant views of surrounding rocky peaks are amplified by the still quietness of this remote place.
Close to the chalet there are picnic tables for enjoying lunch and beers with breathtaking views across a sheer drop to the valley far below. The lunch menu is excellent. German-style roast pork with dumplings, pork escalopes and open ham sandwiches served with pickles taste particularly good with a bier served in a frosty glass stein. Walk off the calories with a stroll around the mountain top before descending back to reality in the opulent mirrored lift.