The History of Zakopane
Mrs Helena, wearing her best apparel, wonderful like a phenomenon, was holding for baptism little Stas, together with Sabała. Later Sabała complained, that this baptism was not with honours, because took place in an usual, Goralian house instead of little church on Kościeliska, although administered by priest Józef Stolarczyk in person.
Really delayed baptism of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz – Witkacy, took place on January 27th of 1891. His godparents were famous for the whole world Helena Modrzejewska and legendary Goral from Zakopane, currently 82-years-old, Jan Krzeptowski Sabała. Staś was born in Warsaw, on February 25th of 1885, and was the only son of Stanisław Witkiewicz coat-of-arm Nieczuja and Maria from the Pietrzkiewicz family, coat-of-arm Ostoja. Senior-Stanislaw, ill from lungs, decided in 1890 to settle permanently in Zakopane. Junior-Stanislaw stayed at the foot of the Tatra Mountains for over 50 years.
Everything that is unusual in the Podhale Region in the Tatra Mountains, was created by nature, but Zakopane itself was created by unusual people, the symbol of which was just Witkacy. As a matter of fact, having such a godparents – it couldn’t be otherwise This is a story not so far away from today, but distant enough, to ensure the citizens of Zakopane that their settlement is like a bee’s knees, and will be this way for a world without end. Frankly speaking, it was totally lack of good climate, and the citizens remain without reason, moderation and money, but fantasy was something, that no one was falling short of. Time arrived, that Zakopane was discovered by Tytus Chałubiński, that put it on plug so well, that most famous world advertising concerns would not be ashamed of. Chałubiński was guided in mountains by Sabała itself, who was telling him unusual stories and treat him to smoke-dried Goralian cheese while sitting on the side of full of trouts Tatra creeks. Mrs Helena Modrzejewska was cantering on horseback to the Hala Gąsienicowa pasture, and was followed by Ignacy Paderewski on foot. Also Sienkiewicz, Asnyk, Potkański and all cultural elite of Poland was not coming off. Hearing, that air near to the Gievont mountin makes well to the incurable tuberculosis, entire crowd of sick persons was coming there. Teasers used to say, that they were dying the same there, but with smile on their faces.
Little Staś grew up in such an atmosphere and then his extraordinary plastic talent already revealed. As an adolescent met Karol Szymanowski, who came to Zakopane in 1941. This gracious, elegant and handsome composer settled in the boarding house „Nosal” on the side of Bystre – carried on by Maria Witkiewiczowa. Also Jadwiga Janczewska, daughter of an advocate from Minsk, was living there and curing early phase of tuberculosis just in Zakopane. Among many women, the first fiancé had the biggest influence on Witkacy, although this relationship was very checkered. On the February 21st of 1914, after another row, Witkacy went to the mountains for few days, and Jadwiga went with cab to the Kościeliska Valley, where committed suicide shooting at herself from the Browning automatic, belonging, as a matter of fact, to her fiancé. Moreover the death of his father evoked at Witkacy deep depressive states and suicidal thoughts. Bronisław Malinowski shook him out of the apathy taking the poor wretch into the long trip to Australia. In the face of the war approaching, Witkacy came back to Piotrogród. His career as a combatant was rather poor, and after the resolution he returned back to Zakopane. Few years later, in 1923, he married beautiful niece of Wojciech Kossak, Jadwigą Unrug. The marital idyll lasted briefly and they achieved the separation caused by determined difference of characters, although never got divorced. Their bizarre friendship lasted till the end of their life. For a material stabilization, he created a Portrait Company named Witkasiewicz and Co. The code of practice of this company was as funny as strange. This way the most portraits drawn by Witkacy, commercial and experimental, was made during the social and friendly meetings, in alcoholic and drug mists. In the Villa Atma lived for good Karol Szymanowski, that always wanted to be surrounded by the Goralian style. He often visited Goralian wedding and baptism parties, listening to Bartuś Obrochta playing folk instruments. The new mother land of the famous composer was visited by not less famous exquisite creators from all over the world. Specially, for the first performance of just finished by Szymanowski the second violin concert, arrived from New York Paweł Kochański - the most wonderful violinist of those times,
Later, in 1924, Jan Kasprowicz arrived from Lvov. With his wife Maria Bunin, daughter of tsars general, he moved into the Villa „Harenda”. This poet of poor health wasn’t pleased for a long time with this new place. After his death, Marusia ran an opened household for all kind of originals. It was a time of the the greatest bloom of the Zakopane bohemia, that used to gathered in force in the Atma, the Harenda and other magic places frequented by various guru with satellites.
The artistic bunch exactly mixed with stars of the mountaineering, which became a fashion for different kind of loonies. Among artists, there were many mountaineers, and among mountaineers – many artists. Entire this cranky company was surrounding Józef Oppenheim – the head of the Mountain Rescue Service, edicted by Mariusz Zaruski himself. Regularly they were frequenting not-more-existent mountain refuge on Pyszna, where famous racing „wyrypy górskie” used to start. For those racings new tracks in the Tatra Mountains were being get. Those accomplishments impress still, even today.
Zakopane worked very hard for the title of the "bee’s knees". It is impossible to list all colourful figures of prewar times, that later took part of amazing stories of the Giewont Mountain footsteps. Boldly can be said, that any author, that didn't spend a lot of time in Zakopane, ordinarily was not running and it affected the entire contemporary Poland.
Unfortunately those wild and crazy years were stopped by war. Unfortunately many didn’t survive and many didn’t come back to the Tatra Mountain anymore. In September of 1939 Witkacy reached the Ukrainian countryside Jeziory. Already in deep depression and to the news about accessing to Poland of Russian army, committed a suicide just one day after and was buried there, on a villages cemetery. Zakopane passed those dark times firmly crippled. After the war the magic soul still tried to revive. Still Makuszyński, Tuwim, Słonimski, Sztaudynger and many other held alive those magic places. But the scale was much smaller, because the new order not necessarily supported them.
The soul of Zakopanego didn’t die. If to look around today, to read advertisements on posters, but first of all to meet contemporary restless souls, the tradition still lasts, sometimes even in the same places. Also the famous Zakopane style didn’t die, although from the year 1886 – the symbolic date of its beginning shown by Stanisław Witkiewicz (father of Witkacy), over one hundred years already passed.
The tradition of the Zakopane style is being cultivated still today, and although turning up with new aspects, it still and invariably delights.
We had it all in mind building our Hotel and handing it over at Your disposal hoping, that You will find there rest and a relaxation, well supported by the atmosphere of Zakopane.
tel.: +48 18 26 37 020