Zakopane is a town in the extreme south of Poland, in the southern part of the Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. From 1975 to 1998, it was part of Nowy Sącz Voivodeship; since 1999, it has been part of Lesser Poland Voivodeship. As of 2017 its population was 27,266. Zakopane is a centre of Goral culture and is often referred to as "the winter capital of Poland". It is a popular destination for mountaineering, skiing, and tourism.
Zakopane lies near Poland's border with Slovakia, in a valley between the Tatra Mountains and Gubałówka Hill. It can be reached by train or bus from the provincial capital, Kraków, about two hours away. Zakopane lies 800–1,000 metres above sea level and centres on the intersection of its Krupówki and Kościuszko Streets.
The earliest documents mentioning Zakopane date to the 17th century, describing a glade called Zakopisko. In 1676 it was a village of 43 inhabitants. In 1818 Zakopane was a small town that was still being developed. There were only 340 homes that held 445 families. The population of Zakopane at that time was 1,805. 934 women and 871 men lived in Zakopane. The first church was built in 1847, by Józef Stolarczyk.
Zakopane became a center for the region's mining and metallurgy industries; by the 19th century, it was the largest center for metallurgy in the region of Galicia. It expanded during the 19th century as the climate attracted more inhabitants. By 1889 it had developed from a small village into a climatic health resort. Rail service to Zakopane began October 1, 1899. In the late 1800s Zakopane constructed a road that went to the town of Nowy Targ, and railways that came from Chabówka. Because of easier transportation the population of Zakopane had increased to about 3,000 people by the end of the 1800s. In the 19th century, Krupówki street was just a narrow beaten path that was meant for people to get from the central part of town to the village of Kuźnice.
The ski jump on Wielka Krokiew was opened in 1925. The cable car to Kasprowy Wierch was completed in 1936. The funicular connected Zakopane and the top of Gubałówka in 1938.
Because of Zakopane's popular ski mountains, the town gained popularity this made the number of tourists increase to about 60,000 people by 1930.
During the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II in September 1939, the town was invaded by Germany, and the Einsatzgruppe I entered the town on September 4, 1939, to commit various crimes against Poles. In March 1940, representatives of the Soviet NKVD and the Nazi Gestapo met for one week in Zakopane's Villa Tadeusz, to coordinate the pacification of resistance in Poland. Throughout World War II, Zakopane served as an underground staging point between Poland and Hungary.
From 1942 to 1943, 1,000 prisoners from the German Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp were set to work in a stone quarry. In 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising, the Germans deported thousands of Varsovians from the Dulag 121 camp in Pruszków, where they were initially imprisoned, to Zakopane. Those Poles were mainly old people, ill people and women with children. In mid-October 1944, there were 3,800 registered Poles, who were expelled from Warsaw, and probably another 3,800 unregistered expellees. In January 1945, the Germans retreated from Zakopane and the German occupation ended.