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The Polish Tatras

Chocholowska Valley
Chocholowska Valley - the longest and largest valley in the Polish Tatras.The valley covers an area of 35 square kilometers and is about 10km long. The lower part of the Valley is essentially a deep gorge with narrow passes known as gates. The upper part of the valley is divided into three smaller valleys: Starorobociańską Valley and Valley Vyšné Jarząbcza. The valley is made up of two types of rock: crystalloid: gneiss and granite and sedimentary rock: shale, limestone and Triassic dolomite. The Chocholowska Valley’s origin is partly post glacial and partly was formed by the Chocholowski stream. Unfortunately, tourist are not allowed to walk in there. Valley owes its name to the nearby village – Chocholow. Thanks to large area of meadows and halls, it became the largest center for shepherds in the Tatras with the huge amounts of mountain cottages. In the past the iron was extracted here, than it was taken to Kuźnice.Today it is a place very popular amongst tourists. A PTTK shelter was built at the top of the valley on the so called Chocholowska Field. The shelter has become a major base for summer and winter tourism in this part of the Tatra Mountains.

The Koscieliska Valley

KoscieliskaKoscieliska Valley creates a long and deep rocky gorge, which walls, in the three places is called gates (Gate Kantak, gate and gate Raptawicka Kraszewski Gate). The creation of this valley is partly responsible to a glacier that once reached all the way up to the Smytna Valley. It is composed mainly of sedimentary rocks, limestone, so a big part in shaping the valley had Koscieliska Creek. We can instantly see the fantastically shaped rocks, steep walls and numerous caves. Koscieliska Valley is about 9km long with an area of about 35 square kilometers. It has numerous side valleys (Tomanowa Valley, Pyszniańska Valley, Kraków Gorge, Smytnia Valley). The highest point in the vicinity of the valley is Blyszcz – 2159 meters above sea level. The Bystra mountain can be seen from all the valley – the highest peak in the Western Tatras. A number of popular caves can be explored in the Koscieliska Valley such as Jaskinia Mrozna, Jaskinia Mylna, Smocza Jama (Dragons lair) as well as the Raptawicka cave.

Morskie Oko

Morskie Oko is the largest and most popular mountain lake in the Polish Tatras. It is located in Valley Rybiego Potoku Valley, at the foot of Mięguszowieckie Peaks at an altitude of 1.395 m above sea level.
The lake is of glacial origin, an area of 34.93 ha and the depth of 50.8 m. The bottom is full of boulders and gravel. Morskie Oko was once known as Rybie Jezioro or Rybi Staw, which translates as fish pond or lake, because it is one of the few mountain lakes in the Tatras naturally inhabited by fishes. The lake is populated by trout. Rybi (fish) creek flows out of the lake, creating a series of small fish ponds : Male Morskie Oko (Small Morskie Oko), Zabie Oko and Male Zabie Oko. A PTTK shelter named after Stanislaw Staszic, was built on the moraine of the lake. Not far to the north, is the second large lake - Czarny Staw pod Rysami, which is also worth a visit. The first mention of Morskie Oko in history come from the year 1575. In 1637 king Wladyslaw IV gave the right to use lands surrounding the lake to Wladyslaw Nowobilski. Morskie Oko became private property in 1824 when Emanuel Homolacs bought Zakopane’s grounds from Austrian Empire. It was later owned by Władyslaw Zamoyski. As of 1933 the lake became national territory.

Polana Kalatówki

Polana Kalatówki is considered as one of the most nicely situated Tatra fields. It belonged to a Kalatów family from Szaflary. Near the meadow are sources of Bystra creek, which has long been considered the source of the Biały Dunajec river. In the surroundings there are also caves, which are available to speleologists. In a summer the field is full of sheeps, in a winter a ski slope is available for tourists. Skiing has been a part of Kalatowki since the beginning of the 20th century. The first ski jumps in Zakopane were built here and also the first ski races were organized. Every year, during Easter, the “lany poniedzialek” (wet Monday) festivities are brought here and a retro skiing competition in memory of Krystyna Behounek takes place. In the interwar period was built in 1938, Mountain Hotel, and soon became an important base for tourists and skiers. After the war  Polish jazzmen gathered here to play and combine jazz with local folk music. These jazz traditions remain strong to this day and have become an attraction for tourists. As Zbigniew Namyslowski once said, “the mountains and jazz go hand in hand exceptionally well”.

Wielka Krokiew Ski Jumping Hill

Wielka Krokiew ski jumping hill, named in memory of Stanislaw Marusarz is the largest hill in Poland. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings of this type in the world. It was built according to Karol Stryjenski’s design on the northern face of the Krokiew mountain in the Tatras and opened on 22nd of March, 1925. The first official record of the hill - 36 meters -  belonged to Stanislaw Gąsienica-Sieczka. Today, the offical record belongs to Sven Hannavald, who on the 18th of January 2003 landed on 140 m. The longest jump ever, however, was executed in 2004 during a training session by a Norwegian jumper – Erik Ulimoen. He reached a distance of 146,5 meters, which remain an unofficial record. The arena can hold 40000 spectators, which makes it one of the largest sporting arenas in Poland. During the World Cup competition in 2002 at the Wielka Krokiew gathered about 50 thousand fans.

Gubalowka tel: (+48) 18 20 148 30(+48) 18 20 148 30

The Gubalowka is one of the peaks on the Gubalowka mountain range. At 1123 meters above sea level it is situated 300m directly above the city of Zakopane and extends from the Zakopane Witów to Poronin.Thousands of tourists come here to view the magnificent vista of Zakopane and the Tatra panorama. A rail cabin opened in 1938 and recently rebuilt, transports tourists up and down the mountain. Leaving the queue in front of the restaurant right away You can see the sculpture Stanislaus Kaniaka Polonia Restituta. It was set in the Tatra Mountains, and sits on its hands Polish eagle. You can also get to the top of Gubałówka with the skilift or cable on Szymoszkowa. At the top you can walk between the stations along the gubałowska promenade or cab ride highland. From the peak, plenty of mountain bike trails lead to Harenda, Chocholow or Witow. During the winter the Gubalowka peak provides a number of skiing slopes with plenty of ski and snowboard schools.

Old Church, Kościeliska Street

Old Church in the name of Our Lady of Czestochowa, often called "stary kościółek", is the oldest church, and also one of the most valuable monuments in Zakopane. He was built in 1847 under the leadership of Sebastian Gąsienica, and the initiative of Edward Homolacs. The first Holy mass was celebrated on January the 6th, 1848 year. In the years 1850-1851 under the supervision of priest Jozef Stolarczyk the church was reconstructed. The southern part was enlarged and was given the shape of the building, which remained until today. The interior was decorated by Podhale artists. The altar was made by Wojciech Kulach Wawrzyncok, whereas the paintings of the cross road were painted by Helena Roj – Kozlowska, a local painter from Zakopane. An interesting fact is the location of the church. It is not like a typical church located in the East - West, but as in neighboring buildings and cottages and the entrance of the church is from the south.


It is a wooden chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is one of the most famous Polish works of architecture. Designed by the creator of Zakopane style - Stanislaw Witkiewicz. It was built between 1904-1908 by a family foundation Uznańskich. It is full of master ornaments, hundreds of reliefs and open works. The main altar inside is shaped after a traditional Podhale cottage. Stained-glass windows represent different images of Holy Mother and the arms of Polish and Lithuanian. You can also admire the painted glass portrayals of the Cross made by Józef Jachymiak. Many artist churches and chapels along the lines of the Shrine of the Jaszczurówka. Many other artists designed churches and chapels modeled on the chapel in Jaszczurowka

Tatra Museum named in memorial of Dr. Titus Chalubinski,
 st. Krupówki 10, phone 018-20-152-05, 018-20-129-35

Open: Wednesday - Saturday 9:00 - 17:00, Sunday 9:00 - 15:00
7,00 zł adult ticket, discount ticket 5,50 zł

The Museum dates back 120 years. Designed by Stanislaw Witkiewicz (elevation), and Franciszek R. Mączyński (technical design). The museum includes three permanent exhibitions: historical, natural and ethnographical. The first shows the history of the region, through photographs and documents from the archives of Zakopane. The ethnographic exhibition shows visitors how the real Podhale cottage looked like. Thanks to the unique  historical decorations and artifacts in the  the house, we can see what life in Zakopane looked like in the past. In the exhibition you can see the ancient carvings, instruments or costumes. The natural exhibition shows how the Tatras were formed: the natural process of the creation of the mountains in the region. It also shows the inhabitants of the mountains- both animals and plants. Colorful cabinets show the most interesting varieties and specimens and find out which are protected.

The old cemetery, Kościeliska street

The cemetery was established by priest Jozef Stolarczyk in 1850 next to the oldest church in Zakopane. Jan Peksa donated the area for the cemetery. The cemetery is also known as “the Eminent Cemetery", because ever since dr. Tytus Chalubinski was buried here the place was considered a cultural landmark. Since that burial, only people of considerable achievement for Zakopane and Poland are buried here. To be able to be buried there, you need the consent of conservators.  About 320 people have been buried here, so far. Amongst them: Józef Stolarczyk, Stanisław Witkiewicz, Władysław Orkan, ,Antoni Kenar, Kazimierz Tetmajer, Helena Marusarzówna, Józef Fedorowicz, Jan Długosz, Krzeptowski Sabala, Antoni Rząsa, Józef Krzeptowski, Kornel Makuszyński.

Villa Atma, Karol Szymanowski Museum, 19 Kasprusie street

Villa Atma was built as a guest house by Karol Szymanowski Stoch at the end of the 19th century. The name Atma comes from the Sanskrit ,“Atma” means calm soul. At the beginning the villa had only one floor, however in 1926 an additional floor was added. At this time it had 7 rooms and 2 living rooms. The villa served as an informal guesthouse until 1930. Karol Szymanowski suffered from tuberculosis and often visited Zakopane for treatment. In 1930 the composer settled down in the villa for good and here he composed his greatest works such as, Harnasie, Kurpiowskie Songs, Mazurki. Szymanowski lived in Atma until 1936. In 1976 two journalists from Warsaw, Zdzisław Sierpiński and Jerzy Waldorff initiated the purchase of the villa thanks to social grants. The villa was given to the National Museum in Krakow. On the 6th of March 1976 the Biographical Museum of Karol Szymanowski was established here. The museum holds a reconstruction of the artists workshop, a piano, books, letters and personal things. There is also the composer's death mask made by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz. In the “Atma” chamber concerts and musical evenings are organized. Villa Atma has hosted many famous people like: Peter Paleczny, John Ekier, Wanda Wilkomirska, Witold Malcuzynski, Andrzej Kulka, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Kaja Danczowska.

Władysław Hasior Gallery, 18b Jagiellonska street, tel: (+48) 18-20-668-71(+48) 18-20-668-71

Open: Wednesday – Saturday 11:00 – 18:00, Sunday 9:00 – 15:00

The artist got a building from the City Administration in 1985. Hasior equipped it and turned it into his artistic workshop. He designed the interior on his own and created the appropriate atmosphere for himself. The gallery is his masterpiece. Władyslaw Hasior was mainly associated with Zakopane. His works are very Polish and highly associated with Podhale region and tends to be quite shocking and provocative. He is considered to be the most original Polish contemporary artist.

Tatra Station, 12 Krupowki street

Formerly known as the Tatra Court, it was a wooden building built in 1881 by the Tatra Association according to a project designed by Karol Zaremba. The Building was opened on 30th July 1882. It contained offices, a ball room, lounges for men and woman as well as a library with reading room. Gatherings, happenings, plays, concerts and recitals were organized in the Station. This was the first “house of culture” in Zakopane. Stanisław Barcewicz, Helena Modrzejewska, Mieczyslaw Karłowicz, Fritz Kreisler, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Aleksander Michałowski all performed here. The building burned down on the night of the carnival on the 21st of January 1901. The cause of the fire was the explosion of an oil lamp. In 1902 it was decided to rebuild it in bricks. On the 1st of July 1903 it was reopened. This was one of the first brick buildings built in the Zakopane style. The new building contained offices, guest rooms, a club room and library both belonging to the Tatra Association as well as the public. There was also a restaurant in the building, which became a popular meeting point for artists and mountaineers in the years between the wars. Before the Second World War a pseudoscientific and comedy club was established in the court under the name “Institutum Bronscianum”. Today, there are PTTK headquarters and offices, as well as a tour operator, the Tatra Guide and Speleologist Guild.. An interesting point is the name of the building. As mentioned earlier it was formerly called the “Tatra Court”. After it was rebuilt the name was changed to Station to best suit a Russian spelling of the Polish word for court. This is a classic example of the russification that took place in Poland at the time.

„U wnuka” restaurant, 8 Koscieliska street

The building with the restaurant is one of the oldest buildings on Kościeliska street in Zakopane. It was built by Józef Krzeptowski in 1850 and is considered to be the first two-story home to be built in Zakopane. The building housed the first post office, general store, library and casino in Zakopane. At a time when this house was a center of culture it was often visited by: Tytus Chałubiński, Jan Kasprowicz, Helena Modrzejewska, Władyslaw Orkan, Wincenty Witos, Walery Eliasz, Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, Generał Józef Haller. On the 4th of March 1904 the most important regional organization in the Podhale region was formed – the Zwiazek Gorali (the Mountain folk Association), which later formed into the Zwiazek Podhalan (the Podhalan Association). The famous restaurant established by the restaurateur from Lvov, Jan Wnuk began its existence in 1907. Wnuk came to Zakopane to cook for the famous Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. He created one of the most popular restaurants in Zakopane and a meeting point for the gorale from all over Podhale. Six children from the Wnuk family were born in the house, one of whom was no less a famous writer and author of many works on the Podhale region – Wlodzimierz Wnuk. He received the Literature Award of Zakopane in 1991 and died in 1992. He was buried in the Old Cemetery.

Villa "Ślimak", ul. Krupówki 77

Villa "Ślimak" was built by Jędrzej Ślimak in 1902. He apparently used Stanislaw Witkiewicz’s advice when building it. Jan Witkiewicz, Stanislaw's brother, was one of  the first guests of the guesthouse. Before World War I it was a guesthouse managed by Stanislaw Ciszewski and was called "Janina." After 1918 the name was changed to "Zośka." . The guesthouse was managed by Maria Witkiewiczowa in the years 1923 – 1928. Witkacy lived in the house in this period. After WWII the guesthouse was turned into a private house and until 1988 the villa housed a medical practice.  After the fall of communism there was a re-privatization and in 1993 the name of the guest house came back to its original name: "Ślimak". Today you can find here few shops and a pub called "Antidote.

Monument of Chałubiński and Sabała

The monument was made by Jan Nalborczyk with the idea of Stanisław Witkiewicz. It shows the bust of Tytus Chalubinski and the figure of Sabala. The memorial was placed at the corner two streets: Chalubinski and Zamoyski street next to the place were Tytus Chalubinski once lived. Chalubinski is considered to be the discoverer of Zakopane and known as the “King of the Tatras”. Jan Krzeptowski, also known as Sabala was his companion. The memorial shows him with his traditional folk violin. To this day you can hear his Sabala notes in the region. Sabala once held a bow, however vandals have over the years continued to steal it. In the end the Tatra Association decided to resign from the bow

Cicha” Villa, 42 Kościeliska street

This beautifully decorated villa, guest house was originally called "Sobczakówka". Named after the owners of the cottage - a family-Sobczaków, which has existed since 1880 and lodged round here. Jan Kasprowicz, Edward Odyniec, Maria Sklodowska-Curii and Adam Chmielowski. Jan Żeromski during his first stay in Zakopane in 1892 was living in this villa. The artistic Klosowski family has been associated with the villa for generations. Karol Klosowski called the villa “Cicha” (silent) enlarged it in 1932 and gradually created its decorations. The painting traditions of the family were continued by their son – Bronislaw Klosowski. Karol Klosowski would beautifully decorate the house in his free time. His work can be admired inside and outside of the villa. Klosowski was fascinated with plants and flowers. He introduced various species of plant life to Zakopane and planted them in the villa gardens and its surroundings. Thanks to him Koscieliska street is one of the most colorful streets in Zakopane.


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