The history of Zakopane goes back some 400 years. However, the beginnings of this place are not exactely known. It appears to have come into being when the seasonal shepherds settlements became transformed into permanent abodes. It is understood that the Settlement prerogative ( missing ) was issued by King Stefan Batory in 1578.
And the name? It appears for the first time in documents in 1605 and most likely it has its origin in the Polish word "kopane" ("zakopane"), witch once meant the area grubbed up for glade.
Zakopane's career as a resort and holiday centre began in the second half of the19th century. This was after the beauty of Morskie Oko Lake and the charm of Koscieliska Valley, had been discovered by some very well known Poles who had been setting off their trips to Tatra mountains. They were: Stanislaw Staszic (who was here in 1803-1805 )- scholar and educator, Ludwik Zejszner (1829) - geologist, Seweryn Goszczynski (1840) - the author of "Journal of Journey to Tatra mountains" and Zygmunt Steszynski (1840) - the author of the poem "Tatry in 24 Pictures" (1840) Nevertheless.
Zakopane is only four centuries old and was founded between XVI and XVII c. as a farmers and shepherds' settlement. Legend says that one day a man called Gasienica came here with his sons Pawel and Jędrzej and they built a mill here. For dozens of years, Zakopane was a godforsaken village. In the middle of the XVIII c. in nearby Kuznice, a steelworks was set up to process iron ore mined in The Tatras. There was also the owners' manor that received travellers visiting the mountains. Soon the beauty of the nearby sunny valley of Zakopane was discovered.
In the XIX century, Zakopane became famous as a tourist and health resort. In 1845, the first parish was set up in the village and two years later Zakopane was visited by one of its legendary persons - priest Józef Stolarczyk. He encouraged the highlanders to rent their houses to the visitors, later on people started to build special houses for them. In 1878 the first house was built by a "newcomer from lowlands" called Walery Eljasz, the author of many guidebooks to The Tatras. The first hotel called "Pod Giewontem" was built in 1885. In 1899 Zakopane was connected by the railway, which started a new chapter in its history. The development of Zakopane is also connected with Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie (The Tatra Society - 1872) and with doctor Tytus Chalubiński, who is described as "Zakopane discoverer" and "the king of The Tatras". In 1886 the village got the status of a health resort. It received the town rights in 1935.
Pope John Paul II's visits to Zakopane have become the most important events in the town's history. He has been attached to Zakopane and The Tatras since his youth. As an alumnus of the Cracow seminary he did a lot of hiking and skiing here. He did not abandon his passion for the mountains even when he became the Cracow metropolitan. His favourite places were the chapel in Jaszczurówka and "Księżówka" - the holiday house of the Polish Episcopate. In The Tatras he adored the Chocholowska Valley, which he visited again in 1982 after he had become the Pope. His next visit to Zakopane and The Tatras took place in June 1997. He spent here a few days. He visited Mount Kasprowy Wierch, Morskie Oko Lake, he went to Ludzmierz along the ridge of Gubalówka. There are many souvenirs of his visit - e.g. the altar, which was used by him during the mess was transported from Krokiew Hill to the gardens of Virgin Mary Sanctuary in Krzeptówki Street
The most characteristic monuments:
- Koscieliska Street. A complex of wooden buildings typical of the Podhale region, which originated in XIX century.
- Stary Kosciól (Old Church). A wooden church built in 1845-1851, the seat of the first parish in Zakopane. Situated in Koscieliska St. - Kaplica Gasieniców. The chapel was the first sacred building in Zakopane built in 1800 by Pawel Gasienica. Situated in Koscieliska St.
- Stary Cmentarz na Pęksowym Brzyzku. The old cemetery, the first cemetery in Zakopane, the place where famous writers, artists and mountaineers are buried. Situated in Koscieliska St.
- Nowy Cmentarz Zakopiański. The new cemetery opened in 1907; the place where artists, mountaineers, mountain rescuers, priests and The First and The Second World Wars veterans are buried. Situated in Nowotarska St.
- Willa "Koliba". The mansion is the first example of Zakopane style built in 1893 according to Stanislaw Witkiewicz's design. Situated in Koscieliska St.
- Willa "Pod Jedlami". The mansion of the Pawlikowski family designed for them by Stanislaw Witkiewicz. It is the biggest and the most beautiful example of the Zakopane style. Situated in Koziniec St. - Willa "Witkiewiczówka". The mansion in the Zakopane style designed in 1904 by Jan Koszyc Witkiewicz. In the 1930s it was the residence of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz (Witkacy). Situated in Antalówka St. - Kaplica w Jaszczurówce. The wooden chapel was built in 1904-1908 according to Stanislaw Witkiewicz's design. Situated in Jaszczurówka.
- Chata Sabaly. A wooden building from the early XIX century, situated in Stare Krzeptówki, in the western part of Zakopane.