Zakopane is a town in the extreme south of Poland, in the southern part of the Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. From 1975 to 1998, it was part of Nowy Sącz Voivodeship; since 1999, it has been part of Lesser Poland Voivodeship. As of 2017 its population was 27,266. Zakopane is a centre of Goral culture and is often referred to as "the winter capital of Poland”. It is a popular destination for mountaineering, skiing, and tourism.
Zakopane lies near Poland's border with Slovakia, in a valley between the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill. It can be reached by train or bus from the province capital, Kraków, about two hours away. Zakopane lies 800–1,000 metres above sea level and centres on the intersection of its Krupówki and Kościuszko Streets.
A postcard of Zakopane from 1916
The earliest documents mentioning Zakopane date to the 17th century, describing a glade called Zakopisko. In 1676 it was a village of 43 inhabitants. In 1818 Zakopane was a small town that was still being developed. There were only 340 homes that held 445 families. The population of Zakopane at that time was 1,805. 934 women and 871 men lived in Zakopane. The first church was built in 1847, by Józef Stolarczyk. Zakopane became a center for the region's mining and metallurgy industries; in the 19th century, it was the largest center for metallurgy in Galicia. It expanded during the 19th century as the climate attracted more inhabitants. By 1889 it had developed from a small village into a climatic health resort. Rail service to Zakopane began October 1, 1899. In the late 1800s Zakopane constructed a road that went to the town of Nowy Targ, and railways that came from Chabówka. Because of easier transportation the population of Zakopane had increased to about 3,000 people by the end of the 1800s. In the 19th century, Krupówki street was just a narrow beaten path that was meant for people to get from the central part of town to the village of Kuźnice.
The ski jump on Wielka Krokiew was opened in 1925.
The cable car to Kasprowy Wierch was completed in 1936.
The funicular connected Zakopane and the top of Gubałówka in 1938.
Because of Zakopane's popular ski mountains, the town gained popularity this made the number of tourists increase to about 60,000 people by 1930.
During the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II in September 1939, the town was invaded by Germany, and the Einsatzgruppe I entered the town on September 4, 1939, to commit various crimes against Poles. In March 1940, representatives of the Soviet NKVD and the Nazi Gestapo met for one week in Zakopane's Villa Tadeusz, to coordinate the pacification of resistance in Poland. Throughout World War II, Zakopane served as an underground staging point between Poland and Hungary.
From 1942 to 1943, 1,000 prisoners from the German Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp were set to work in a stone quarry. In January 1945, the Germans retreated from Zakopane and the German occupation ended.
The Zakopane Style of Architecture is an architectural mode inspired by the regional art of Poland's highland region known as Podhale. Drawing on the motifs and traditions in the buildings of the Carpathian Mountains, the style was pioneered by Stanislaw Witkiewicz and is now considered a core tradition of the Goral people.
The Tatras are a popular destination among hikers, skiers, ski-tourers and climbers.
There is a network of well-marked hiking trails in the Tatras and according to the national park regulations the hikers must stick to them. Most of these trails are overcrowded, especially in the summer season.
The High Tatras offer excellent opportunities for climbing (up to X UIAA grade).
In summer, lightning and snow are both potential hazards for climbers, and the weather can change quickly. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons. In winter the snow can be up to several meters deep.
In the winter, thousands arrive in Zakopane to ski, especially around Christmas and in February. The most popular skiing areas are Kasprowy Wierch and Gubałówka. There are a number of cross country skiing trails in the forests surrounding the town.
Zakopane hosted the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1929, 1939, and 1962; the winter Universiades in 1956, 1993, and 2001; the biathlon World Championship; several ski jumping world cups; and several Nordic combined, Nordic and Alpine European Cups. It hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1939, the first outside the Alps and the last official world championships prior to World War II.
Zakopane made unsuccessful bids to host the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2011 and 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships.
Zakopane is visited by over 2,500,000 tourists a year. During the summer, Tourists come to do activities like hiking, climbing, bike and horse ride the Tatras mountain, there are many trails in the Tatras. Tourists ride quads and dirt bikes that you can rent. Swimming and boat rides on the Dunajec river are popular. Many come to experience Goral culture, which is rich in its unique styles of food, speech, architecture, music, and costume. Zakopane is especially popular during the winter holidays, which are celebrated in traditional style, with dances, decorated horse-pulled sleighs called kuligs and roast lamb.
In the winter, Zakopane's tourists are interested in winter sports activities such as skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, snowshoe walks, and Ice skating.
Popular tourist activity is taking a stroll through the town's most popular street: Krupówki. It is lined with stores, restaurants, carnival rides, and performers.
During the winter and summer seasons, Krupówki Street is crowded with tourists visiting the shops and restaurants. In the summer, a local market along Krupówki Street offers traditional Goral apparel, leather jackets, fur coats, shoes, and purses. Venders also sell foods like the famous oscypek smoked sheep cheese, fruit, vegetables, and meats. There are also many stands with Zakopane souvenirs.
Zakopane is popular for nightlife. At night there are always people walking around town checking out the different bars and dance clubs. Most of these bars and dance clubs are located on Krupowki street. These are the bars that are located in Zakopane: Paparazzi, Cafe Piano, Anemone, Anemone, Cafe Antrakt, Literatka, Winoteka Pod Berlami, and Karczma u Ratownikow. These are dance clubs located in Zakopane: Vavaboom, Finlandia Arctic, Genesis, Rockus, Morskie Oko, and Cocomo Go-Go Club.
A scene in Andrzej Wajda's film Man of Marble (Człowiek z marmuru) was filmed in Zakopane, introducing the town to a worldwide audience.
The mountain scenes from the Bollywood film Fanaa were filmed around Zakopane.
Zakopane participates in town twinning to foster international links.
- Tytus Chałubiński (1820 – 1889 in Zakopane), Polish physician and co-founder of the Polish Tatra Society
- Klemens Bachleda (1851-1910), Polish mountain guide and mountain rescuer, worked from Zakopane
- Stanisław Witkiewicz, (1851 – 1915) Polish painter, architect, writer and art theoretician
- Jan Kasprowicz, (1860 – 1926) poet, playwright, critic and translator; a foremost representative of Young Poland
- Mariusz Zaruski, (1867–1941) Polish Brigadier-General, a pioneer of Polish sports yachting, a climber of the Tatra Mountains, a photographer, painter, poet, a seaman, a conspirator, a social activist and teacher
- Jerzy Żuławski, (1874 – 1915) Polish literary figure, philosopher, translator, alpinist and nationalist
- Władysław Orkan, (1875 – 1930) Polish writer from the Young Poland period
- Mieczysław Karłowicz, (1876 – 1909) Polish composer, conductor, mountaineer and photographer of the Tatra Mountains
- Karol Szymanowski, (1882 – 1937) Polish composer and pianist, member of the modernist movement Young Poland; his house in Zakopane, the Villa Atma, is now a museum
- Kornel Makuszyński, (1884 – 1953) Polish writer of children's and youth literature, elected member of the Polish Academy of Literature in interwar Poland
- Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885 – 1939), Witkacy, a painter, philosopher, playwright, novelist and photographer
- Olga Drahonowska-Małkowska, (1888 – 1979 in Zakopane), with her husband, founded scouting in Poland
- Count Edward Bernard Raczyński (1891 – 1993) Polish diplomat, writer, politician and President of Poland in exile
- Anna Zofia Krygowska (1904–1988) Polish mathematician, known for her work in mathematics education
- Wawrzyniec Żuławski (1916 in Zakopane – 1957) Wawa Polish alpinist, educator, composer, music critic, and musicologist
- Władysław Hasior, (1928 – 1999) Polish contemporary sculptor from Podhale region, a painter and theatre set designer
- Teresa Bogucka (born 1945 in Zakopane), journalist, writer, a democratic opposition activist in Communist Poland
- Andrzej Gąsienica-Makowski (born 1952 in Zakopane) politician, led the Nonpartisan Bloc for Support of Reforms
- Janusz Waluś (born 1953 in Zakopane) assassinated Chris Hani, General Secretary of the South African Communist Party
- Liz Glazowski, (born 1957 in Zakopane) Polish-American model, Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month in April 1980
- Sergiusz Pinkwart, (born 1973) Polish journalist, writer, classical musician and traveler, Magellan Award winner
- Małgorzata Babiarz, (born 1984 in Zakopane) professionally known as Megitza is a singer, double bass player and composer
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