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Berchtesgaden and the Watzmann in August 2010
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Coat of arms
Location of Berchtesgaden within Berchtesgadener Land district
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Coordinates: 47°37′53″N13°0′15″E / 47.63139°N 13.00417°E / 47.63139; 13.00417 Coordinates: 47°37′53″N13°0′15″E / 47.63139°N 13.00417°E / 47.63139; 13.00417
Country Germany
State Bavaria
Admin. region Oberbayern
District Berchtesgadener Land
   Mayor Franz Rasp (CSU)
  Total34.78 km2 (13.43 sq mi)
700 m (2,300 ft)
 (2019-12-31) [1]
  Density220/km2 (570/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes +49 8652
Vehicle registration BGL

Berchtesgaden (German pronunciation: [ˈbɛʁçtəsˌɡaːdn̩] ) is a municipality in the district Berchtesgadener Land, Bavaria, in southeastern Germany, near the border with Austria, 30 km (19 mi) south of Salzburg and 180 km (110 mi) southeast of Munich. It lies in the Berchtesgaden Alps, south of Berchtesgaden; the Berchtesgaden National Park stretches along three parallel valleys.


The Kehlstein mountain (1,835 m (6,020 ft)), with its Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest) is located in the area.


Berchtesgaden, Upper Bavaria (Achental), earlier Perchterscadmen, Perhtersgadem, Berchirchsgadem, Berchtoldesgadem; the word underwent a Latin distortion of Old High German parach, Romance bareca 'hay shed'. After the basic meaning was forgotten, they[ who? ] added a variant word of Old High German gadem 'room, one-room hut', implying the same meaning: 'hay shed'. Cf. Old High German muosgadem 'spice room'.

There was a folk etymology that supported a derivation based on the legendary figure of Frau Perchta (Berchta), a woman (Holle < Holda 'well disposed, dear') with good and bad changing features, who was venerated on Perchtertag (Shrovetide) was sworn to during the Perchta procession. [2]


The first ever historical note dates back to 1102 and mentions the area because of its rich salt deposits. Much of Berchtesgaden's wealth has been derived from its salt mines, the first of which started operations in 1517. [3] The town served as independent Fürstpropstei until the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803. During the Napoleonic wars, Berchtesgaden changed hands a few times, such as in 1805 under the Treaty of Pressburg, when the area was ceded to Austria.

Berchtesgaden came under Bavarian rule in 1810 and became instantly popular with the Bavarian royal family, the House of Wittelsbach, who often visited Königssee and maintained a royal hunting residence in the former Augustine monastery (still used today by Franz, Duke of Bavaria). Nascent tourism started to evolve and a number of artists came to the area, which reportedly gave rise to Malereck ("painters' corner") on the shore of Königssee in nearby Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden. The most famous author who lived in Berchtesgaden was Ludwig Ganghofer.

Nazi era

U.S. soldiers toast the capture of Berchtesgaden (1945) American soldiers at Berchtesgaden toast victory, 1945.jpg
U.S. soldiers toast the capture of Berchtesgaden (1945)

Adolf Hitler had been vacationing in the Berchtesgaden area since the 1920s. He purchased a home in the Obersalzberg above the town on the flank of the Hoher Goll and began extensive renovations on his Berghof in the following years. As other top Third Reich figures, such as Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Heinrich Himmler, and Albert Speer, began to frequent the area the Party began to purchase and requisition land in the Obersalzberg. [4]

In order to serve as an outpost of the German Reichskanzlei (Imperial Chancellery), Berchtesgaden and its environs (Stanggass) saw substantial expansion of offices, security, and support services, mainly on the Obersalzberg. Included in the town were a new railway station, with a reception area for Hitler and his guests, and an adjacent post office. The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel, where famous visitors such as Neville Chamberlain and David Lloyd George stayed, was substantially upgraded.

Even though a feared "national redoubt" last stand of the Nazi Regime in the Alps failed to materialize late in World War II, the Allies launched a devastating air raid on the Berchtesgaden area in the spring of 1945. Concentrated on the Obersalzberg, the 25 April bombing did little damage to the town. On 4 May, forward elements of the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division arrived [5] and received the town's surrender. [6]

Post–World War II

After the war, Berchtesgaden became a military zone and most of its buildings were requisitioned by the U.S. Army. Hotel Platterhof was rebuilt and renamed the General Walker Hotel in 1952. [7] It served as an integral part of the U.S. Armed Forces Recreation Centers for the duration of the Cold War and beyond. [8] The remnants of homes of former Nazi leaders were all demolished in the early postwar years, though traces of some remained. In 1995, fifty years after the end of World War II and five years after German reunification, the AFRC Berchtesgaden was turned over to Bavarian authorities to facilitate military spending reductions mandated within the Base Realignment and Closure program by the US Congress and Pentagon during the administration of President Bill Clinton. [8] The General Walker Hotel was demolished in 2000–2001.

In 1986, Berchtesgaden was a first round candidate city to host the XVI Olympic Winter Games to be held in 1992. The vote eventually went to Albertville, France, in October of that year. [9]

Berchtesgaden today

Aerial view of Berchtesgaden Berchtesgaden.jpg
Aerial view of Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden in the morning BerchtesgadenFog.jpg
Berchtesgaden in the morning
The former Royal Castle at Berchtesgaden Schlossplatz 180 Grad-Tag.jpg
The former Royal Castle at Berchtesgaden

The Hotel Türken, which was near the Nazi buildings and was often used by the SS and then by the Generalmajor of the Police, was badly damaged in 1945. It was rebuilt in 1950 and reopened as a hotel before Christmas. [10] Visitors can still explore the historic underground hallways and tunnels that had been used by the Nazis. [11] [12] [13]

In 1972, local government reform united the then independent municipalities of Salzberg, Maria Gern and Au (consisting of Oberau and Unterau) under the administration of the town of Berchtesgaden. Another suggested reform uniting all remaining five municipalities in the Berchtesgaden valley (Bischofswiesen, Ramsau, Marktschellenberg and Schönau) failed to gain enough popular support; it passed in Berchtesgaden but failed everywhere else.

The Berchtesgaden National Park was established in 1978 and has gradually become one of Berchtesgaden's largest draws. Mass tourism is confined to a few popular spots, leaving the rest to nature-seekers. Other tourist draws are the Königssee, the salt mine, the Kehlsteinhaus , open seasonally as a restaurant, and the Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg museum about the area's history, operated by the Munich Institut für Zeitgeschichte since 1999. [14] [15] [16]

Recreational and competitive sports have grown in importance. The town's ski slope is popular. The Königssee bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track has hosted ski-running and a number of international events and competitions. Berchtesgaden's most famous sports personality is Georg Hackl, a multiple Olympic medal winner. The city is home to the International Luge Federation (FIL).

Unlike the northern part of Berchtesgadener Land and the Salzburg area, Berchtesgaden has virtually no manufacturing industry.

Berchtesgaden Central Station is connected by the Salzburg–Berchtesgaden railway to the Rosenheim–Salzburg railway at Freilassing.

The Bavarian state government facilitated the erection of a hotel, which opened in 2005 and is operated by the InterContinental Hotels Group. [15] Since May 2015, the hotel has been the Kempinski Berchtesgaden. [17] [18]


Berchtesgaden's neighbouring towns are Bischofswiesen, Marktschellenberg, Ramsau, and Schönau am Königssee.

The municipality counts the following villages which are (Ortsteil): Am Etzerschlößl, Anzenbach, Hintergern, Metzenleiten, Mitterbach, Oberau, Obergern, Obersalzberg, Resten, Unterau, Untersalzberg I, Untersalzberg II, and Vordergern.

Notable people

Hermann von Barth Hermann von Barth Portrait1.jpg
Hermann von Barth

Related Research Articles

Berchtesgadener Land is a Landkreis (district) in Bavaria, Germany. It is bounded by the district of Traunstein and by the state of Austria.

Berghof (residence) Adolf Hitlers Bavarian residence

The Berghof was Adolf Hitler's home in the Obersalzberg of the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany. Other than the Wolfsschanze, his headquarters in East Prussia for the invasion of the Soviet Union, he spent more time here than anywhere else during World War II. It was also one of the most widely known of his headquarters, which were located throughout Europe.


The Kehlsteinhaus is a Third Reich–era building erected atop the summit of the Kehlstein, a rocky outcrop that rises above Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings. It was visited on 14 documented instances by Adolf Hitler, who disliked the location due to his fear of heights, the risk of bad weather, and the thin mountain air. Today it is open seasonally as a restaurant, beer garden, and tourist site.


The Königssee is a natural lake in the extreme southeast Berchtesgadener Land district of the German state of Bavaria, near the Austrian border. Most of the lake is within the Berchtesgaden National Park.

Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden Place in Bavaria, Germany

Ramsau is a German municipality in the Bavarian Alps with a population of around 1,800. It is located on the Königssee in the district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, close to the border with Austria, 35 km south of Salzburg and 150 km south-east of Munich. It is situated north of the Berchtesgaden National Park.


Obersalzberg is a mountainside retreat situated above the market town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany. Located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) southeast of Munich, close to the border with Austria, it is best known as the site of Adolf Hitler's former mountain residence, the Berghof, and of the mountaintop Kehlsteinhaus, popularly known in the English-speaking world as the "Eagle's Nest." All of the Nazi buildings were demolished in the 1950s but the relevant past of the area is the subject of the Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg museum which opened in 1999.

The General Walker Hotel was a hotel for US troops after World War II in the mountain (Alpine) retreat of Obersalzberg, Germany. The former Pension Moritz boarding house, boasting opulent accommodations and sweeping views of the Bavarian countryside and Alpine scenery, had been opened in 1878 and renamed Platterhof in 1928. After the Nazi seizure of power, it became a "people's" hostel for visitors to the extended containment area around Hitler's headquarters at the nearby Berghof residence. It was subsequently rebuilt into a luxury hotel for visiting dignitaries and in 1943 was converted into a military hospital. SS guards.

Berchtesgaden Provostry

Berchtesgaden Provostry or the Prince-Provostry of Berchtesgaden was an immediate principality of the Holy Roman Empire, held by a canonry, i.e. a collegiate foundation, of Canons Regular led by a Prince-Provost.

Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof

Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof is a railway station in the Bavarian market town of Berchtesgaden, the smallest town in Germany with a Hauptbahnhof. It has five platform tracks and is classified by Deutsche Bahn as a category 5 station. It is the terminus of the Freilassing–Berchtesgaden railway. Previously the Berchtesgaden–Hangender Stein railway, also called the Grüne Elektrische started from the station. Within walking distance of the station (Triftplatz) was the former station of Königssee Railway, which served the lake of Königssee. The station is served by about 20 trains daily operated by Deutsche Bahn and the Berchtesgadener Land Bahn.

Schönau am Königssee Place in Bavaria, Germany

Schönau am Königssee is a municipality in the district of Berchtesgadener Land in the German state of Bavaria. It is located at the northern end of the Königssee lake.

Anton Adner

Anton Adner, also known as the Bavarian Methusalem, was a Bavarian artisan of wood, who reportedly is of the oldest people to have lived in that region of Germany.

Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg Museum in Obersalzberg

Dokumentation Obersalzberg is a museum in the Obersalzberg resort near Berchtesgaden, providing historical information on the use of the mountainside retreat by Nazi leaders, especially Hitler who regularly vacationed in this area beginning in 1928. The museum was opened in 1999, and by 2007 had been visited by more than one million people.

Berchtesgaden Alps

The Berchtesgaden Alps are a mountain range of the Northern Limestone Alps, named after the market town of Berchtesgaden located in the centre. The central part belongs to the Berchtesgadener Land district of southeastern Bavaria, Germany, while the adjacent area in the north, east and south is part of the Austrian state of Salzburg.

Grassl or Graßl is an Upper German and Austrian family name, mainly widespreaded in the southern region of the Berchtesgadener Land district, especially in the municipalities Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königsee. Notable people with the surname include:

Berchtesgaden National Park

Berchtesgaden National Park is in the south of Germany, on its border with Austria, in the municipalities of Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königsee, Berchtesgadener Land, Free State of Bavaria. The national park was established in 1978 to protect the landscapes of the Berchtesgaden Alps. Headquartered in the town of Berchtesgaden, the park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1990.

Freilassing–Berchtesgaden railway

The Freilassing–Berchtesgaden railway is an electrified line listed in the Deutsche Bahn timetable as route 954. The 33.671 km long route branches in Freilassing as a single-track line from the double-track Rosenheim–Salzburg railway. It is classified as a line as far as Bad Reichenhall and from there as branch line. The section between Bad Reichenhall-Kirchberg and Hallthurm is considered a steep section with specific operational requirements under Deutsche Bahn’s regulations.

Hotel Geiger

The Hotel Geiger is a traditional hotel complex located in Bischofswiesen, Upper Bavaria, roughly 50 km south of Salzburg. It was opened by Hugo Geiger (1828–1874), a retired customs inspector, as a guest house in 1866 and then progressively extended. By 1924 there were two traditionally styled substantial hotel buildings. During its heyday in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Geiger was a leading hotel, with many financiers and aristocrats among the guests.

Rupert Staudinger British-German luger

Rupert Staudinger is a British-German luger. Born in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria to a German father and a British mother, he grew up in Schönau am Königssee.

Schwarzeck may refer to:

Teahouse on Mooslahnerkopf Hill

The teahouse on the Mooslahnerkopf hill was the favourite destination of Adolf Hitler when he was at his Berghof at Obersalzberg.


  1. "Tabellenblatt "Daten 2", Statistischer Bericht A1200C 202041 Einwohnerzahlen der Gemeinden, Kreise und Regierungsbezirke". Bayerisches Landesamt für Statistik und Datenverarbeitung (in German). July 2020.
  2. Translated by Carl Masthay, St. Louis, 2012, from Wilhelm Sturmfels and Heinz Bischof: Unsere Ortsnamen im ABC erklärt nach Herkunft und Bedeutung, Bonn, 1961, Ferdinand Dümmlers Verlag.
  3. The Mysterious World of Salt – Salzbergwerk Museum tourist information leaflet.
  4. "History of the Obersalzberg, Hitler's Mountain".
  5. World War II: Race to Seize Berchtesgaden HistoryNet 12 June 2006
  6. UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II, Special Studies, CHRONOLOGY 1941–1945. "In U.S. Seventh Army's XV Corps area, 101 regiment, crossing into Austria, advances through Salzburg to Berchtesgaden without opposition".
  7. Walden, Geoffrey R. "Platterhof". Third Reich in Ruins. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  8. 1 2 "U.S. to give back Hitler's resort". Eugene Register-Guard . Oregon. 5 February 1995. p. 16A.
  9. "Past Results". Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  10. "Hotel zum Turken - UPDATED 2018 Prices, Reviews & Photos (Berchtesgaden, Germany) - TripAdvisor". Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. "Visit Hotel Zum Turken WWII Bunkers on your trip to Berchtesgaden".
  12. Wilson, James (13 January 2014). Hitler's Alpine Headquarters. Pen and Sword. ISBN   9781473831872 via Google Books.
  13. "Hotel zum Türken, Obersalzberg -".
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. 1 2 Ryback, Timothy W. (1 April 2005). "The Hitler Shrine".
  16. "THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Berchtesgaden 2018 - Must See Attractions in Berchtesgaden, Germany | TripAdvisor". 28 November 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  17. "Luxury 5 Star Hotel in the Bavarian Alps - Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden".
  18. "Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden - Reviews, Photos & Rates". 23 August 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.