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Zakopane - description and history of the city

giewont_skocznia_zakopane.jpg     Zakopane is a city with an unusual, unique atmosphere, great folklore and interesting history, located at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. Although the city itself is not old, compared to other Polish cities, there is no shortage of landmarks and museums to visit. Zakopane offers a fantastic wide range of choices in terms of active recreation. This unofficial “winter capital of Poland” has numerous ski and snowboard slopes to choose from such as: Kasprowy Peak with the Gasienicowa and Goryczkowa valleys, Polana Szymoszkowa, Nosal, Harenda, Male Ciche and Gubalowka as well as the nearby Witow Ski,  Bukowina Tatrzanska, Bialka Tatrzanska, Dluga Polana in Nowy Targ and Kluszkowce offer slopes for both skiers and snowboarders, young and old, experienced and novices alike. During summer, spring and autumn we recommend hikes on the countless and beautiful mountain trails such as: Droga pod Reglami,  Mala Laka, Orla Perc, the crossroads of Kasprowy Wierch, Tatrzanska Droga Młodości (the Tatra Road of Youth), as well as numerous stunning mountain valleys: Bialego, Chocholowska, Gąsienicowa, Goryczkowa, Giewont, Jaworzyna Rusinowa, Jaworzynka, Kalatówki, Kondratowa, Królowa, Lejowa, Mała Łąka, Miętusia, Morskie Oko, Olczyska, Ornak, Pańszczyca, Pięciu Stawów and Pyszna.  You can also try to climb some local peaks : Nosal, Rysy (the highest peak in Poland, measuring 2499 meters above the sea level), Giewont, Butorowy Wierch, and many others, all of which offer views that are absolutely breathtaking and "out of this world".  


Zakopane is the most important city of Podhale and without a doubt one of the biggest attractions of the country. The city is situated between 800 and 1100 m above sea level, which makes it the highest placed city in Poland. Such location gives it  wonderful clean atmosphere and a specific microclimate. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visiting tourists in Zakopane in order to experience the unique mountain culture, take part in numerous festivals and performances of folk groups. The offer of accommodation in the city is huge and there's something for your pocket - from five-star hotels through to luxury apartments, with VisitZakopane.pl offering a wide range of apartments to choose from, to small hotels, motels and cheap rooms in pensions and small mountain cottages. Getting to Zakopane is possible from every corner of Poland with a bus, train, or a car. Car route leads through the popular "ZAKOPIANKA" which runs from Krakow. In the top season we recommend taking alternative roads through Chochołów or Bukowina Tatrzańska.

The beginnings of Zakopane date back to the second half of the 14th century when nomadic, pastoral farmers settled down to form here a small village. In 1772 the village was incorporated in to Austrian Empire and then in 1824 the village and part of the Tatra mountains  were sold to the Homolacs family. With their initiative, the first church was built here. In the end of XIX century Zakopane started to become popular amongst tourists thanks to the creation of the Tatra Association in 1873. Tytus Chalubinski, one of the founding members of the Association, a biologist, doctor as well as a pioneer climbing in Tatras began to promote Zakopane. Those days more and more tourist started to visit Zakopane. Tourists would find accommodation in the local mountain cottages and were living side by side with the local highlanders called “górale”, whose tradition is very strong even nowadays. In 1876 Zakopane became a health resort. When a road and rail road connecting Zakopane with Nowy Targ was built  the city began to develop rapidly. Public and tourists interest with Zakopane escalated as getting to the city became faster and more comfortable. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century numerous pensions and spas were built. At this point in time Zakopane became popular amongst the artistic elite, among others Stanislaw Witkiewicz (Witkacy),  a famous writer and architect, who probably  had the 
greatest influence on Zakopane architecture and culture. 

Witkwilla_koliba.jpgacy was the one who created Zakopane architectural style which came to dominate in Zakopane itself as well as to the whole Tatra region. This move was Witkiewicz’s response to the Tirol style that originated from Austria, which began to appear in the architecture of Zakopane. Witkiewicz, fearing a domination of Tirol style, put a great emphasis on his unique style, which resulted in his “Zakopane style” of wooden building. Witkacy’s legend is still alive thanks to a theatre that bears his name. In the interwar period Zakopane continued to blossom. In 1922 the Tatra Museum was opened and in 1936 a cable car to Kasprowy Peak was established. Two years later a similar service was established on the Gubalowka Mountain, nowadays one of the main tourist attraction in Zakopane. The famous “Wielka Krokiew” ski jumping complex was built in 1925. Later in 1929 and then in 1939 Zakopane hosted the FIS Skiing World Cup and continues to be the mainstay of the FIS winter skiing season, with the annual spectacular ski jumping competition bringing here huge crowds of fans.  As we can see, to this day the city is growing dynamically, especially in the field of tourism.   


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