The Tatra mountains (in Polish and Slovak, “Tatry”), constitute a mountain range on the border of Poland and Slovakia, and are the highest section of the Carpathian Mountains. The major part and all the highest peaks of the range are situated in Slovakia; the largest mountain lakes can be found in Poland. The highest Tatra peak, at 2655 m, is Gerlachovsky stit, (formerly Franz Joseph Peak), located in Slovakia. Rysy, at 2499 m, is the highest Polish peak (on the Polish-Slovak border).
The area is a well-known winter sports area.
The Tatras consist of:
- the Western Tatras (Slovak: Zapadne Tatry, Polish: Tatry Zachodnie)
- the High Tatras (Sl.: Vysoke Tatry, Pl.: Tatry Wysokie)
- the Belianske Tatras (Sl.: Belianske Tatry, Pl.: Tatry Bielskie)
The High Tatras, with their 24 peaks over 2500 m above sea level, are, together with the Southern Carpathians, the only mountain ranges with an Alpine character in the whole 1200 km length of the Carpathian Mountain range.
The Slovak Tatra National Park (TANAP, Tatransky narodny park) was founded in 1949, and the contiguous Polish Tatra National Park (Tatrzanski Park Narodowy) was founded in 1954. Both areas were added to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve list in 1993
Zakopane lies around 120 kilometers south of Krakow in the Podhale region. The only high-altitude mountain resort in Poland and much frequented by tourists, its success can be attributed to the beauty of its wild moun¬tainous setting on the slopes of the Tatras, its warm and welcoming atmosphere, and its archi¬tecture, which is dominated by wooden houses. The Polish have long been attracted to Zako¬pane’s charms: its expansion from a small rural settlement to a bustling mountain resort began in the second half of the 19th century.
Towards the end of the 19th century Young Poland artists began com¬ing to Zakopane to seek inspiration or spending time here regularly for their health. Some even settled here perma¬nently. Highland culture, music, crafts and folklore, which had remained par¬ticularly vibrant due to the geographical isolation of the region, held an irresistible fascination for them. The painter and art critic Stanislaw Witkiewicz, inspired by the local architecture, created a style that became known as the Zakopane style. A visit to a few villas, now museums, will help to explore and understand this style. The music of the region inspired the composer Karol Szymanowski, who wrote some of his most important works in Zakopane.
- The “Koliba” Villa and the museum of the Zakopane style,
- The “Pod Jedlami” Villa – an example of the architecture of the artist Stanislaw Witkiewicz,
- The Chapel of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Jaszczurowka and its beautiful interior
- “Na Peksowym Brzysku” Cemetery
- The “Atma” Villa – the Karol Szymanowski Museum
- The “Harenda” Villa – the Jan Kasprowicz Museum