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History of Zakopane

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Though the first settlements in the region of Podhale came into being in the middle of the 12th century, not much is known about such early times of Zakopane. Its history dates back to the year 1578 when Zakopane obtained its village rights from Stefan Batory, King of Poland. The rights were further confirmed in writing in the privilege granted to Zakopane in 1670 by Michal Korybut Wisniowiecki, King of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Legend has it that the origins of Zakopane, then a farmers and shepherds' settlement, goes back as far as the 16th and 17th centuries when the man called Gasienica, with his two sons, came here to build a mill at the confluence of the Biala and Cicha Woda streams.

History of ZakopaneThis area, nowadays known as Nawsie, is believed to be the oldest part of Zakopane. The further development of the town was connected with the iron ore mined in the Tatras. It was in the second half of the 18th century that a steelworks was constructed in the nearby Kuznice. Its owners also built an inn offering rooms to tourists, who started to visit this part of the region. Tourism, perceived as hiking the mountains for pleasure ,developed in the Tatras much earlier than the town of Zakopane came into existence.

The earliest written record of climbing the southern side of the Tatras dates back to the year 1565. The 19th century saw an increased interest in the northern part of the Tatra Mountains, with the first mountain hut built at Morskie Oko in 1836. At that time, the inns, foresters' lodges and shepherds' shelters were used by the Tatra visitors for accommodation purposes. Some even slept rough.

Many of those who visited the Tatras, wild at those times, contributed to making Zakopane and the mountains popular by making research, writing reports on their journeys, etc. Eugeniusz Janota, one of the first newcomers to the Tatras, is regarded as the author of the first guidebook to the mountains entitled ''The Guide in Tours of Babia Mountain, the Tatras and the Pieniny Mountains'' (1860).

Setting up the first parish in the village also contributed to the further development of Zakopane as a tourist resort. Owing to its rector, Jozef Stolarczyk, who encouraged the local highlanders to rent their houses to tourists. He also used the presbytery for lodging them. This keen tourist and Tatra mountaineer not only made Zakopane renowned as a tourist town but was the first mountaineer to climb Baranie Rogi as well. For his merits, one of the Tatra passes was named after Jozef Stolarczyk.

Story of Podhale Zakopane Polish Mountains

As in the summer months more and more visitors came to Zakopane, the locals started to build special houses to be rented to tourists. The first one was built in 1878 by Walery Eljasz, a painter and "a newcomer from lowlans", renowned mainly as the author of the best guidebook to the Tatra Mountains at that time. Seven years later, the first hotel called ''At the Foot of Giewont'' (Pod Giewontem) was erected.

Building a railway connection to Zakopane contributed to the further development of Zakopane as a tourist resort. However, it was not only the geographical location and the landscape features that made Zakopane famous. The popularity of the town as a health resort was also of great significance. The person who contributed to making Zakopane renowned as a health resort was Tytus Chalubinski, the doctor from Warsaw who started coming to the Tatras in 1873 to settle here in the end. He is also known as the founder of ''the Tatra Society'' popularising Zakopane with its Tatra Mountains, thus, often referred to as ''the discoverer of Zakopane'' and ''the King of the Tatras.'' It is thanks to Tytus Chalubinski that Zakopane obtained the official status of a health resort in 1886. Nearly 50 years later Zakopane was granted the town rights. Lots of diseases were treated in the sanatoria in Zakopane. Though in the centuries to follow the healing properties of Zakopane were verified by doctors, its mountain air and picturesque location still attract thousands of holiday makers from all over the world every year.



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Map of Zakopane

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