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Zakopane Architecture and the Strążyska Valley

Cool cabins and a hike

semi-overcast 17 °C

Monday May 22, 2017 Day 12

Off we went this morning with our guide to learn about Zakopane. Yup, first stop was a church but the point here was to learn about the Zakopane architectural style as this church was a fine example of it. The style was developed in the late 1800’s and features log construction, peaked roofs and a high degree of wood craftsmanship as shown in the abundant ornamentation in the buildings. The town has embraced the style. Building after building follows the same principals and give the town a unique and delightful character. The influence has spread to the arts and crafts in the town and even to the cemetery that has a collection of creative and unusual grave stones.


Zakopane is in the Tetra Mountains and is the winter capital of Poland. The 30,000 inhabitants host millions of visitors every year, mostly in the winter but a good number in the summer too. We took the cable car up one of the hills for a view of the valleys on either side of the ridge. There are many ski hills in the area to accommodate all the winter visitors. We walked along the ridge, flanked by tourist and food stalls, even a pay toilet, to a ski lift to take us back to the valley below.


After a quick visit to the shopping area of Zakopane we met our guide to go for a hike in the National Forest that surrounds Zakopane. It was a short walk to the end of our street and we entered the park. The trail was wide and well marked. It started at the edge of a huge meadow with a large flock of sheep being watched over by two local type sheepdogs. Fencing didn’t seem to be needed. Birds here seem to have an especially loud cheerful song and don’t seem to restrict themselves to dawn or dusk singing consequently the woods are full of birdsong whenever we’ve been in them. The trail went up the Strążyska Valley following a stream up towards a waterfall. As we neared the waterfall the trail was over large rocks that had been worn smooth by the years of hikers heading this way. Wildflowers were abundant and included violets, primulas and marsh marigold. The waterfall was 23 meters high and a welcome sight.


Dinner tonight was a Highlander Feast. Highlanders are the people of southern Poland and Northern Slovakia. They must eat a lot. We were presented with a sour cabbage soup followed by a huge platter full of Hunter’s salad, blood sausage (kiszka), white sausage, spareribs, chicken, pork’s knuckles, mystery meat, roasted potatoes, perogi and sauerkraut followed by baked apples for dessert. Needless to say there were leftovers.


Darkness has fallen but the birds are still singing. Zakopane is a delightful, interesting town. It is easy to see why so many people visit the area.

Posted by Fredricgail2017 12:24 Archived in Poland

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Looks like was a fabulous day.

by Selkirk

I understand that Poles tend to be very religious, but aren't you tired of visiting churches?

by William E Harany

Loved the architecture in Zakopane. One rooftop almost looked like it was attempting to go Gaudi-esque! Definitely a cool day.

by DeborahE

Gail and Fred: Zakapone was one of the first places I visited in Poland just after coming from Berlin and watching the wall come down. Was wisked off to a mountain retreat just outside Zakapone for a week where high school students from all over the country came to learn English, and I was one of the 5 English teachers, volunteered by my young Polish girlfriend who was studying in Krakow. All the other teachers knew basic Polish, and the first night they put us on stage and peppered us with Polish questions and tongue twisters. After a few days of talking in English, I decided to sing the words to some English popular songs and soon the students were all bringing their guitars and other instruments and we would sing our hearts out. Still have warm memories of my time in Zakapone and then the next couple of weeks in Krakow, which was a fascinating historic town. Am enjoying your blog and photos. Robert

by Robert

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