Ladek (pronounced ‘Londeck’) is popular as a health resort, and is believed to be the oldest spa town in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe. In the past it has been visited by such celebrities as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Russian Empress Katherine II and the kings of Prussia. Nowadays it helps people with rheumatic, orthopaedic and neurological diseases, where the curative mineral waters and specific microclimate make a stay at Ladek a great opportunity to take care of oneself.
The beautiful architecture is a great reminder of the long history of Ladek, the most attractive being the “Wojciech” and “Maria” Spring House, the Old Town and the Main Square with its Baroque statue as well as the Baroque church of St Mary. Another remarkable attraction is the Gothic bridge, which has been decorated with a monument to John of Nepomuk, a Czech saint, and underlines the Bohemian heritage of these lands. An arboretum located in the spa district is worthy of attention, too, especially when the weather is very hot and you need some cool shade.
There are plenty of interesting sights to be found in the neighbourhood of Ladek-Zdroj. The most popular destinations are Karpien Castle and the Calvary on the top of Mt Cierniak, while if you want to hike those winter pounds away then you have a plenty of possibilities, including Stolowe Rocks near Stojkowo, Mt Igliczna, Radochowska Cave and Niedziedzia Cave or Mt Trojak with its several picturesque rocks that are ideal for climbing. A number of cultural events, such as film, dance and music festivals complete the long list of Ladek’s attractions.
Ladek is also known for a joke from the classic Polish film Mis (Teddy Bear). Its hero wants to send a telegram to London but the clerk at the post office answers “There is no town called London. But there is a town called Ladek, Ladek-Zdroj.” This comedy, directed by Stanislaw Bareja, perfectly presents the absurdity of Communism in Poland.
Ladek-Zdroj is located in the Klodzko Valley, in south-western Poland and very close to the border with the Czech Republic. Lying within 20 kilometres of Klodzko, the largest town of the district, and a little over 80 from Wroclaw, the capital of Lower Silesia Province, Ladek is easy to reach.
Crossed by the Biala Ladecka River, the town is surrounded by the Zlote Mountains and Snieznik Massif, both belonging to the Sudety mountain ranges. While the neighbourhood is hilly, the town shelters in the valley, taking advantage of the beneficial climate of the area.
Ladek received city rights in 1282 from Silesian Duke Henryk Probus. The town was a victim of attacks by Turks in the 13th century and Hussites in the 15th. It is assumed that as early as the Middle Ages the settlement became a health resort, with the first recorded health centre with a swimming pool being constructed in 1498. In the 16th century it gained the official status of health resort with a modern – for those times – health centre and guest houses. It was appreciated by the court physician of Habsburgs, Johannes Crato, who wrote a text about curative features of Ladek.
Destruction and downfall returned once more with the Thirty Years’ War. In the second half of the 17th century the resort was, however, rebuilt and equipped with new bath house, chapel and other buildings. In the early 18th century the town was destroyed again, this time by a great fire. The period following the Silesian Wars added to the stagnation of these lands, but by the second half of the century a period of development had returned.
In the 19th century Ladek and its environs was a property of Duchess Marianne von Oranien-Nassau, who resided in her castle in Zabkowice Slaskie. She was one of the most extraordinary women of the century and the town of Ladek owed its significant development to her. At the end of the 19th century, Aleksander Ostrowicz took up the post of administrator and had great successes in popularising and modernising Ladek, as well as being an author of the first large guide book to Ladek.
Ladek became a part of Poland in 1945. Earlier, changing hands from the Habsburgs to Prussian kings, it was known as Bad Landeck.