BERCHTESGARDEN, Germany — A popular beauty spot close to Adolph Hitler’s Eagles Nest mountain retreat has become selfie central. And because tourists are destroying the foliage, it’s now closed to the public.
The Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany’s state of Bavaria has been overrun by thousands of youngsters with camera phones after the Koenigsbach waterfall gained traction online in 2017.
“We don’t mind a having a lot of guests, as long as they respect the rules and take good care of nature, but this group of 20-to 30-year-olds are not the typical users of our national park,” park spokeswoman Karolin Scheider told Zenger News. “They are often noisy, throw garbage, light fires and some even camped in the park, although it is strictly forbidden.”
The coveted Instagram selfie-spot is located above the beautiful Koenigssee (King’s Lake), previously accessible only via a narrow footpath leading to the waterfall’s infinity pools. The selfie seekers have now trampled four paths through the landscape.
On busy summer days, up to 400 people have been seen crowding the waterfall.
Schneider estimates it will take “two to three years to give the vegetation time to grow back to its original state.”
Many top Nazis built their country homes within a three-mile fenced-in area to be close to Berghof, Hitler’s private mountain retreat and his official mountain residence, Kehlsteinhof, known as The Eagle’s Nest. The national park is located near the Obersalzberg Mountain, which housed Hitler’s mountain home.
While Berghof was leveled by British bombs near the end of WWII, Eagle’s Nest remains intact, sitting atop a cliff with a gorgeous view of the mountains and King’s Lake.
Hitler visited the Eagle’s Nest five times for official meetings, but it has assumed an almost mythical notoriety, attracting hundreds of thousands yearly.
The neighboring national park is a favorite of hikers and locals. It remained largely untouched until the popular infinity pool snaps started trending. It’s always the same online shot: Someone lying on their belly in an infinity pool on the edge of a steep drop, back to camera, overlooking King’s Lake.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse. With travel abroad out, visitor numbers have soared.
“They just come to take this photograph and while most behave sensibly, there are a few people that ruin it for everybody,” Scheider said.
Berghof will remain open, but the local town council is preparing the legislation needed to enforce the no-entry zone to Berchtesgaden for at least the next two years to allow the environment to recover.
Failure to respect the new restrictions will be penalized with fines for trespassing.
(Edited by Fern Siegel and Carlin Becker)