First documents in which Zakopane (as "polana Zakopiska") is mentioned come from the 17th century. Later history of Zakopane is associated with the development of metallurgical and mining industries, and, then, with development of health care and tourism. Zakopane received its city charter in 1933. None of the cities in Poland is located as high in the mountains as Zakopane. It is situated at the foothills of Tatra Mountains, in the basin between the latter and the crest of Gubałówka. Its urban area is at an altitude of 750-1000 m above sea level; the centre (Krupówki and Kościuszki street crossing) is located 838 m above sea level. Due to high altitude, Zakopane has mountain climate.
Tatra Mountains is the main attraction for tourists from all over the world. The civilization affected its wonderful wildlife to a very little extent; it is regarded as the world's natural heritage. The task of the national park is to protect the wildlife. There are few places in Poland from which you can set out in the morning to experience an exciting adventure climbing the mountains, visit numerous museums in the afternoon, and watch performances in an excellent theatre in the evening. Here you can also swim, paraglide, ride a horse or on a mountain bicycle. In winter, tourists can use a few dozens of ski-lifts; some of them are easy, and the other are for more advanced skiers who can test their skills. In summer, you can walk hundreds of kilometres because there are tourist tracks in valleys and along rocky edges. Zakopane is the largest Polish centre for skiers and mountaineers. The population is ca. 30000 inhabitants, but it is visited by ca. 2 million tourists every year. Folklore of mountain people from Podhale is very cherished here. In August, during the international festival in Zakopane, you can find out about the culture of mountain people from all over the world.
For over 100 years Zakopane has been very famous for its unique atmosphere. The city has been a favourite resting place for artists, politicians, scientists, and culture activists. They have come there to improve their health, watch beautiful views, and experience physical exertion. Zakopane enjoys great reputation all the time. Even now famous activists, coming here, can experience silence and quiet atmosphere and, at the same time, live in comfortable city in which people are honest and hospitable.
There are many monuments and museums in Zakopane. The most interesting are Muzeum Tatrzańskie (with a few branches in the city and in Podhale) and Muzeum Przyrodnicze TPN. Many biographic museums are worth seeing too, e.g. a museum of a composer, Karol Szymanowski, and a poet, Jan Kasprowicz. There are also many exhibition halls and galleries, as well as artist schools. There is also a professional theatre - Teatr im. Stanisława Ignacego Witkiewicza. You can acquaint with culture of mountain people in "Tatrzański Ośrodek Swojszczyzny" and participating in many celebrations during which amateur folk groups from Zakopane and the environs present their repertoire.
Since January 1th 1995, Zakopane has been a separate administrative unit with its own local government. Earlier, there had been a several year period of existence of Tatran Borough. ADAM BACHLEDA CURUS is the mayor of the city.