Adolf Hitler's Bavarian retreat and other tyrants' lairs are open for visitors
David Whitley, CNN
9:47 AM, Jul 24, 2013
(CNN) -- With Adolf Hitler's WWII Bavarian mountain retreat set to undergo a multi-million dollar makeover, travel to the onetime lairs and luxury retreats of tyrants is in the spotlight.
Many monuments built by megalomaniacs are open to the public.
From Tito's nuclear bunker to Stalin's summer house to Mussolini's villa, autocrat hideouts have become tourist attractions.
Does visiting places associated with ruthless dictatorships serve as a useful history lesson? Or is it a disservice to the memories of those who suffered under brutal regimes?
It can be uncomfortable posing for pictures at places where the darkest events of the Third Reich were carried out. Yet the preservation of such sites also serves as an important reminder of historic atrocities.
All of these places are easy enough to get to. Whether you actually want to go is another question ...
Adolf Hitler: Eagle's Nest, Bavaria
This mountain retreat near the town of Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps was originally a place where Hitler could receive visiting dignitaries.
The chalet is reached via a 124-meter elevator drilled into the mountain.
On the same mountain, a backup Nazi command base -- the Berghof -- was destroyed by Allied bombing.
The Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus, in German), however, is still open as a restaurant and information center -- and a $22.5 million upgrade has recently been announced.
Visitors reach the house by ascending through the mountain in Hitler's brass elevator car
Kehlsteinhaus (+49 8652 2029; €21.50/$28 per person). The official website has directions for reaching Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest by car and bus.
Josef Stalin's Dacha, Sochi, Russia
On the outskirts of the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi -- host of the 2014 Winter Olympics -- sits Joe Stalin's summer residence.
Purpose built, complete with palm trees imported from California and sniper emplacements, this was Stalin's favorite escape from Moscow.
It's now a small and somewhat uncomfortable museum, where a waxwork of the mass-murdering Soviet leader can be found sitting at his old desk.