Kościelisko – earlier called Polany
It is a large village consisting of 21 settlements which are called "polany". The village is called the heart of Podhale. It is situated on Pogórze Gubałowskie slopes and is, in fact, a holiday resort, with a beautiful view of Tatra Mountains.
Many famous people have lived in Kościelisko. They have created unique culture and traditions of Skalne Podhale for many years. The most famous people are: Jan Krzeptowski Sabała, Stanisław Nędza Kubiniec, and Andrzej Stopka Nazimek.
Long time ago, instead of Kościelisko and Zakopane, there was one settlement. The situation changed in 1867 when the first autonomous elections of members for borough councils were held. During a century the situation in the borough changed. At the end of 1994, as a result of Tatran Borough division, Kościelisko Borough was re-established. It consisted of Dzianisz, Witów and Kościelisko. Dzianisz and Witów are villages of a typical, agricultural character. Both belong to a rural organization called Wspólnota Leśna Uprawnionych Ośmiu Wsi, whose members traditionally, for many years, have managed their land collectively. The villages are located in northern part of Pasmo Gubałowskie in Czarny Dunajec river basin, at the foothills of Western Tatra. Thanks to their attractiveness, they can become famous holiday resorts in Podhale.
The community has cherished traditions of Podhale for many years. Here you can meet many craftsmen dealing with carpentry, cabinet-making, sculpture, embroidery, folk tailoring, weaving and making regional shoes.
Well-known musicians, dancers, singers and a few regional bands hand down traditional tunes, songs and dances from one generation to another.
Artists from Polany, Dzianisz and Witów will make XI Chess Olympiad of the Blind (Zakopane-Kościelisko 2000) more attractive.
Shepherding has always been cherished in the region. In Kościelisko you can, therefore, see an original wedding of mountain people, taste a drink made of sheep milk called "zyntyca", or some smoked cheese called "oscypek".
Tourism and Sports
The borough is hospitable to tourists. There are 30 larger recreational centres and boarding houses. One of them is a Military Recreational Centre in Kościelisko which will host the participants of the Olympiade. There are also about 150 private apartments and about a dozen of restaurants. There are a few chair-lifts taking skiers to Butorowy Wierch. There are excellent conditions for downhill and cross-country skiing.
In one of the settlements of Kościelisko (Kiry) there is a military biathlon centre in which biathlon competitions of the highest quality can be organized. Many investments associated with tourism, recreation and sports are planned for next years. The most important are: preparing new skiing and cycle tracks, sports grounds, and a recreational complex with geothermal resources in Witów.
Polany is a cradle of many reputable sportsmen who made their town and Poland famous during international competition, e.g. winter olympic games.
Wildlife and Culture
Kościelisko borough consists not only of the three villages. It also includes a vast area belonging to Western Tatra with two biggest Tatran valleys, i.e. Chochołowska Valley (35 km2) and Kościeliska Valley (34 km2). Unique flora and fauna of the area, as well as monuments of folklore and pastoral culture, are undoubtedly main attractions for many tourists. Such things like old houses, stockyards, wells, small wooden churches, white chapels, belfries, traditional forges or forester's lodges, can be found almost everywhere in the borough. Apart of that, in Chochołowska Valley you can find old shepherd's sheds.
Although in Kościelisko borough almost everything is associated with history of mountain people, we should remember that we live in the 20th century and that only the best historical monuments have survived.