The beginnings of Zakopane are connected with seasonal pasturage of sheep on the Tatra glades. The first settlers arrived from southern Poland as early as the 14th century. The administrative power of the King of Poland was vested in Nowy Targ Starosta office. The name Zakopane is first mentioned in a document by King Zygmunt III of the Waza Dynasty dated April 20th, 1630. The name is connected with the Polish word “Zakopane” (“deforested”) and it was originally written down as “Za Kopane”[1.1]. The tradition says that the location privilege for Zakopane was issued by King Stefan Batory in 1578, but that document is missing[1.2]. In the year 1670 that privilege was confirmed by King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki. The village had 43 inhabitants in 1676 (including the inhabitants of Olcza and Poronin), most of them shepherds and farmers. A large influx of settlers followed in the 18th century, when gold, silver, copper and iron ore were discovered in the Tatra Mountains. A foundry was built in Kuźnice in 1766 and a year later similar works were built in Kościelisko. Due to exhaustion of deposits of ore both of those works were closed in the second half of the 19th century.

In 1772 Zakopane was annexed by the Austrian Empire and in 1824 sold (including part of Tatra Mountains) to the Homolascy Family. According to the first census of 1818 Zakopane had 340 homes inhabited by 445 families (871 men and 934 women). Under Homolascy rule Zakopane became an independent parish, the first rector of the new parochial church, built in 1847 was Józef Stolarczyk. Due to its unfavorable location the village did not bring a lot of income. The golden era of Zakopane came in the second half of the 19th century, when it’s climate conditions were popularized by Dr. Tytus Chałubiński. In 1886 the village was granted the status of a health-resort. Further development followed after the village was taken over by Count Władysław Zamoyski in 1889. The construction of the road to Nowy Targ as well as the railway line from Chabówka largely accelerated this process. Due to the easier access the number of guests visiting the resort increased dramatically. At the end of the 19th century Zakopane had already 3,000 inhabitants.

At the beginning of the 20th century numerous pensions and sanitariums for patients with tuberculosis were built in Zakopane. The village became popular among artists and writers. Among others Henryk Sienkiewicz and Stanisław Witkiewicz (the creator of so called “Zakopiański Style” – still a trademark of the Podhale region) settled in Zakopane.

After World War I, Count Zamoyski devised all of his estate, as a foundation, to the Polish people. The Tatra estate, including forests in Zakopane, Brzegi, Bukowina, Kościelisko, Dębno and Zubsuche formed the core of the Tatra National Park formed after World War II. Between the World Wars Zakopane was still a stage for dynamic development. FIS World Skiing Championships took place in Zakopane in 1929 and 1939. The village was given town status on October 18th, 1933. The number of tourists reached 60 thousand in the 1930s.

During the Second World War Zakopane became a major resistance trafficking centre on the border with Hungary. The basement of the “Palace” Hotel was converted to a Gestapo prison (called “the butchery of Podhale”). In the beginning of March, 1940 in the villa “Tadeusz” a joint convention on methods of operating against Polish resistance was organized by the Gestapo and the Soviet NKVD. The convention was also organized for the purpose of exchanging information.

In 1955 the government of the Polish Peoples Republic passed a bill on touristic, recreational and sports development of the town. It marked a positive change and brought investments. A bus interchange, cheap tourist hotel (“Dom Turysty”) and a sports training centre at the foot of the Krokwia ski jump were constructed (the ski jump was also rebuilt). The Post Office was moved to a new office building. In 1962 Zakopane was the host of the World Championships in Skiing. In February of 1993 and 2001 it hosted the world’s best student skiers participating in FISU Winter Universiades. Nowadays the town is the most important sports and mountain tourism center in Poland[1.3].


  • [1.1] [as of 29.08.2008].
  • [1.2] [as of 29.08.2008].
  • [1.3] Oprac. na podstawie: Zakopane. 400 lat dziejów, pod red. R. Dutkowej, Kraków 1991.