Obersalzberg Travel Guide.
Obersalzberg is a village on a mountainside in Germany, but it is surrounded on three sides by Austria. This may explain why Hitler decided to live there. He could have one foot in Germany, but also keep a beady eye on his native Austria.
The Austrians had been very keen for Hitler to come in take over governance of Austria in 1938, in what was called the Anschluss. Although it’s possible some of them might have been confused, and they’d mistakenly thought it was Australia he was going to absorb into Germany. An easy mistake to make. So they might have been somewhat surprised when he turned up in Austria to lord it over them.
From Hitler having a small house in the early 1930s (which got massively expanded), to homes for other leading Nazis, bunkers, garrisons and all manner of facilities, the whole mountainside became like a Nazi citadel. The increased security and militarisation of Obersalzberg started out as a reaction to the thousands of adoring Germans and Austrians that traveled to the area in the later 1930s just to catch a glimpse of ‘Der Fuhrer’.
There are three things to see in Obersalzberg;
The Berggasthof Restaurant.
The site of Hitler’s house (the Berghof).
Hitler’s lofty tearoom (the Eagle’s Nest) which is near the top of the mountain at 6,000 feet, so there is also a spectacular view.
The Berggasthof Restaurant in Obersalzberg is as far as you can go via public transport. This is at 3,000 feet (you then need special buses to take you up another 3,000 feet to the Eagle’s Nest). The food at the Berggasthof is not bad quality, and the beer is the same price as in nearby Salzburg. There also seems to be less wasps up at this height, so that alone makes it worth the few extra euros for a meal. I suggest eating here, rather than at the restaurant in the Eagle’s Nest. After all, that restaurant may have real eagles. They can be more troublesome than wasps, and harder to bat away.
Here’s the view from the Berggasthof Restaurant’s terrace…nice innit?
The site of the ‘Berghof’ (Hitler’s house). If you want to find the site of Hitler’s house (demolished in 1952) then you can do so from the restaurant. The Berghof site is near the, now temporarily closed, ‘Hotel zum Turken’ which is about 300m from the restaurant. Hitler had the hotel owner ‘removed’, although the family reclaimed it after the war.
Alternatively, there is an excellent historical tour that departs from the front of the restaurant every day at around 1.15pm. This covers the entire area by coach, and it includes tickets for the Eagle’s Nest (click here for booking).
Once you’ve found the site of the Berghof, this is the lovely view that Hitler and Eva would have had from the front window of their house…
…and this is where the Berghof’s much photographed terrace was (search google for pictures of Hitler, Eva and their Alsatian dogs)…
The Berghof was demolished to deter ‘brown tourists’ and the morbidly curious (like me I suppose). My excuse is that I grew up in the shadow of WWII, so it is interesting to actually see all those places I saw in numerous documentaries and newsreels.
I’m not the only one with an interest, my tour was full. The authorities have also had to put up a plaque at the site to stop people asking the locals about where the Berghof was.
Although, in hindsight, I do wish I hadn’t actually worn a brown shirt on that day. It was the only shirt I had left, after ten days of travelling, that wasn’t minging. I’m not sure I’ll be welcome back.
The Eagle’s Nest: Hitler’s ‘tea-house’ is on top of one of the mountain’s peaks. What the Germans still call the ‘Kehlsteinhaus’ is now more widely known as ‘The Eagle’s Nest’. Nobody knows who gave it that name, but it was after the war. It is now a restaurant, but you don’t have to eat there. You can just walk through to a terrace where you can have a cheaper coffee or a beer and take in the view.
The Eagle’s Nest is reached by specially adapted buses that whizz around hairpin bends at speeds that gives you that ‘End of The Italian Job’ feeling. I found myself humming ‘This is the self-preservation society’.
Once you get off the bus you are at the entrance to the lift tunnel. This whole facility takes you straight back to 1939 Nazi Germany. Massive iron doors, faux-classical light fittings, an eerie tunnel (Hitler would have been driven down it) and the original brass elevator that takes you up the remaining 150m to the Eagle’s Nest itself.
The Eagle’s Nest was never actually a house, there are no bedrooms. It was effectively a tea-house on top of a mountain peak that was built to entertain and impress visiting VIPs. At 6,000 feet I suppose it could also have been used for throwing off ‘P’s that were no longer ‘VI’.
It was a massive engineering project that cost many millions at the time, and six men died during the thirteen-month construction period. This was all just for Hitler to show off.
Here’s the view, the house is on the right…
And here is a cloud being made at 6,000 feet…
After your relaxing time staring at the majesty of the Alps, it’s time for the bus ride down. The buses go frighteningly faster with gravity in their favour, so at least I ended up with shorts to match my shirt.
Getting There: To get to Obersalzberg from Salzburg: Catch the 840 bus to Berchtesgaden (leaves from Bus Stop J at the side of McDonalds in the Station Square once an hour. When you get to Berchtesgaden bus station (after 50 minutes) there will be a number of connecting buses waiting.
You need bus 838 to Obersalzberg (twenty minutes or so). There’s nothing in Obersalzberg apart from the Bergastof Restaurant and the special buses that take you up to the Eagle’s Nest, so you can’t miss it. Both of these buses take cash.
Once at Obersalzberg you can either join your tour (click here) or buy a ticket for the special buses up to the Eagle’s Nest (note they are quite strict about you coming down on your specified bus at the specified time and you have to get a ticket from the ticket office).
To see my other travel guides to Germany click here.