Monday, September 5, 2011

'Eagle's Nest' a Surprise Tourist Attraction

Daily Mail: The dark allure of Adolf Hitler has turned his tea house at the top of a Bavarian mountain into one of the most visited sites in Germany. Tourism authorities announced that over 300,000 people visited the retreat on the peak of the Kehlstein mountain which was built for him as a 50th birthday gift by Nazi party secretary Martin Bormann in 1939.

This is nearly 30,000 up on last year.

Although Hitler's Berghof home on the mountain was destroyed by the Allies in bombing raids and after WW2, the tea house survived to become a tourism magnet in peacetime.

Officials said that most visitors to the mountain are Americans followed by Britons; combined they make up 85 percent of the people who came to see where Hitler ate cream cakes with his mistress Eva Braun and snoozed in chintz chairs as the world war he started raged. Germans make up just a small proportion of visitors to the tea house, preferring instead to enjoy nature and walking holidays in the beautiful countryside of the Obersalzburg all around.

For around 20 euros modern day visitors to the house 6,000 feet up are rewarded with spectacular views and can get refreshments from the privately run restaurant, including roast pork with dumplings and cabbage, salads and sandwiches, that operates in summer months inside it. There is even a gift shop.

Visitors access the tea house on a bus via a serpent-like mountain road called the Kehlsteinstrabe and enter a golden brass lift built into the mountain side, itself accessed via a tunnel through the granite. The Kehlsteinhaus is known in English as the Eagle's Nest and is built in a chalet-style taking 13 months to construct.

It was finished in the summer of 1938 before it was presented to Hitler a year later, but he only made a few visits to the chalet partly due to his fear of heights. After the war it was used by the Allies as a military command post until 1960 when it was handed back to the State of Bavaria.

It is 1834m above sea level and is perched on a rock wall having cost 30m Reichsmarks to build - about £100m today.


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