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Meritorious Cemetery in Pęksowy Brzyzek - Zabytek.pl

Meritorious Cemetery in Pęksowy Brzyzek

Roman Catholic cemetery Zakopane

Zakopane, Kościeliska

woj. małopolskie, pow. tatrzański, gm. Zakopane

The old cemetery in Pęksowy Brzyzek in Zakopane is one of the most important burial sites in Poland.

Buried here are a few dozen outstanding people of culture, science and art, and a wide range of individuals much deserving to Zakopane and the Tatra Mountains. The local tombstones and crosses are of unique nature as they combine the folk traditions and art trends dominating in the 19th and 20th century.


The east part of the plot on which the cemetery is situated was bequeathed to the parish by Jan Pęksa for burial purposes in 1848 (his grave can still be seen at the cemetery). The Polish word “brzyzek” means a piece of land sloping towards a river. The greater part of today’s old cemetery (from the graves of Janina and Kornel Makuszyński towards the west and up to the gate) extends over the plot formerly owned by the church. It was given - together with a house and a stone chapel - to the Roman Catholic Church by Paweł and Regina Gąsienica on 9 January 1813; the area was called “a settlement”. The plot was larger than it is today, but about 1/3 of it was destroyed by the Germans who were building a new access road to Gubałówka. Without the contribution of some of the people buried here, Zakopane would still be a poor village lost at the foot of mountains. Those people were: the first parish priest in Zakopane, the Rev. Józef Stolarczyk, Dr Tytus Chałubiński, Maria and Bronisław Dembowski. Beside them, there are the graves of excellent musicians (just to mention Jan Krzeptowski Sabała and Tadeusz Gąsienica Giewont), builders and architects (Jan Gąsienica Giewont, Andrzej and Jędrzej Czarniak, Stefan Żychoń), guides and rescuers (Maciej Sieczka, Jędrzej Wala, Stanisław Gąsienica Byrcyn, Stanisław Gąsienica of Lasa, Józef Krzeptowski and - symbolically - Piotr Malinowski). Next to the mountain rescuers who died in the 1994 helicopter crash during a rescue operation, there are writers (Kornel Makuszyński, Stanisław Nędza Kubiniec, Tomasz Gluziński, Józef Kapeniak, Aniela Gut-Stapińska), composers (Jan Pasierb Orland, Wacław Geiger), artists (Antoni Kenar, Antoni Rząsa, Wanda Gentil-Trippenhauer, Karol Kłosowski, Czesław Skawiński, Stanisław Gałek) or physicians (Józef Sokołowski, Katarzyna Łaniewska). This is also the final resting place for top sportspeople (Helena Marusarzówna, Jan Długosz, Karol Gąsiennica Szostak), academics, politicians and social activists, for example, the Jagiellonian University professor Wacław Felczak (the other Pole, besides Józef Bem, called by the Hungarians "daddy"), the creator of a network of secret messengers across the Tatra Mountains during WW2. Stanisław Marusarz, a great sportsman and WW2 messenger, fainted during his burial ceremony. Few days later, he rested in Pęksowy Brzyzek. The old cemetery is also a resting place of those who were related to Zakopane but died far away from the Tatras. Even after many years, their ashes are transferred to Pęksowy Brzyzek. This was the case with Stanisław Witkiewicz, Władysław Orkan, Karol Stryjeński, Kazimierz Dłuski, Kazimierz Tetmajer. The cemetery also has symbolic graves of people who died away from their family land or do not have their resting place at all. Such people are: Gen. Mariusz Zaruski, Kazimierz Dadej, Bronisław Czech, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and exiles to Siberia.


The old cemetery can be accessed by a cobblestone path from Kościeliska Street running next to the old church, the stone chapel of St Andrew, to the gate. The wooden church of St Clement was built in the years 1847-1851 thanks to Klementyna and Edward Homolacs, local landowners. They started to strive for the establishment of the parish ten tears earlier. They even signed a notarial deed assuming the obligation to maintain the parish priest and the church. In 1845 Emperor Ferdinand I finally approved the changes in parish organization in the region and the construction of the church was soon underway. The project was supervised by the carpenter Sebastian Gąsienica Sobczak who built a polygonal closure of the presbytery and the tower. The first Mass in the shingle-covered church was said by the parish priest, the Rev. Józef Stolarczyk. The church was a single-nave structure with three altars. Originally the main altar featured the painting of St Clement, replaced just before WW2 with a copy of the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa. A major renovation of the church was carried out by the parish priest, the Rev. Jan Tobolak. Shingles were replaced and a wooden grille was installed designed by Antoni Kenar (made by his student Karol Gołek). The antependia for the altars were made at the same time by Karol Kłosowski and Maria Bujakowa. Another renovation of the church, including the exchange of lighting, installation of window grilles, replacement of fences and the construction of a path to the old cemetery, was conducted by the custodian of the place, the Rev. Zbigniew Wiśniowski, who also rests on the old cemetery. The church has retained its fittings, including the paintings and the figures of saints, of which the image of St Paul from the turn of the 18th century. Equally interesting is the Way of the Cross created by the contemporary artist Ewelina Pęksowa. The chapel of St Andrew (Świerad) was built by Paweł Gąsienica ca. 1800. The chapel was consecrated upon the bishop’s approval in 1801. It was renovated in 1861 by Maciej Pitoń and re-consecrated by the Rev. Józef Stolarczyk. After WW2, the interior of the chapel was re-designed by Antoni Kenar, commissioned by the Rev. Jan Tobolak. The project - with the symbols of the Four Evangelists and the patron of the chapel - was completed by Kenar’s student, Józef Kandefer. The decorative grille was installed in the same period. The wooden church is surrounded by a grassy space of the original parish cemetery, used before the opening of the graveyard called Pęksowe Brzyzko. They are separated by a stone wall (1950s) with a gate, decorated with commemorative plaques.  The cemetery is bisected by one alley. Many gravestone attract attention. Some of them are great masterpieces of such artists as: Władysław Hasior, Antoni Rząsa, Urszula Kenar, Michał Gąsienica Szostak or Maciej Berbeka. No less interesting is a large group of outstanding works of folk artists.

The cemetery is accesible to visitors.

Compiled by Roman Marcinek, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kraków, 30.09.2014.


  • Długołęcka L., Pinkwart M., Zakopane. Przewodnik historyczny, Warszawa 1988.
  • Pach A., Peksów Brzyzek, „Podtatrze: jesień 1978”, Zakopane 1978, pp. 70-71.
  • Paryscy Z. i W., Wielka Encyklopedia tatrzańska, Poronin 1995.
  • Pinkwart M., Zakopane. Przewodnik, Warszawa 1995.
  • Stolarczyk J., Kronika dawnego Zakopanego, Zakopane 1997.

Object data updated by Waldemar Rusek Rusek, Michał JG.

Category: Roman Catholic cemetery

Protection: Register of monuments, Monuments records

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_12_CM.17459, PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_E_12_CM.43816