Health resorts offer touch of history in south-western Poland
By Dominika Maslikowski Mar 22, 2011, 3:06 GMT
Ladek-Zdroj, Poland - South-western Poland, historically known for its resorts, offers tourists health-boosting mineral waters and spa treatments in quiet towns amid the scenic Silesia region.
As many older state-owned resorts are privatizing, the small communities are coming together to promote the spas along with the nature and history of the traditional mining region.
The health resort Wojciech in the town of Ladek-Zdroj, about 90 kilometres south of the regional capital Wroclaw, is the oldest spa in Poland.
Dating back to the 13th century, the resort has previously hosted Prussian kings, Russian Tsar Alexander I, German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe and US President John Quincy Adams, who said he never saw a spa geared more towards the 'preservation and recovery of health.'
Wojciech was built in the fashion of a Turkish bath and features a round marble swimming pool for mineral baths under an ornate neo-baroque dome. Upstairs over the thermal pool, there is a pump room with several water sources said to prolong youth and improve skin.
At least a 10-day stay is recommended to see the effects of the treatments, said Anna Zalewska, the resort's marketing director.
'We have high standards and competitive prices,' Zalewska said. 'The region is also rich in sightseeing ... The town is ideal for walks and hiking tracks in the surrounding mountains with beautiful views of Wroclaw when the visibility is good.'
A short drive west is the town of Polanica-Zdroj where there is no market square or downtown, but instead a long promenade ideal for leisurely walks.
The town was first deemed a healthy place to stay in 1650 when Jesuits began building a monastery in the area. Today its streets stretch out alongside a small river surrounded by greenery, Venetian bridges and numerous shops, cafes and restaurants.
The resort Wielka Pieniawa has an indoor beach complete with sand where clients relax under lights made to stimulate the energy-boosting effects of the sun, even in the midst of long winters.
The resort town of Jedlina-Zdroj, some 67 kilometres south-west of Wroclaw, has natural mineral water sources that were first deemed curative in 1607.
Situated near two mountain ranges overgrown with fir trees, the small town boasts a six-kilometre-long hiking trail and spas aimed to cure respiratory and nervous diseases. It hosts several international festivals, including a street art event in June and July.
The nearby Jedlinka Palace is run-down and currently undergoing conservation work, but open to tourists and worth a visit for its tumultuous history. The palace dates back to the 13th century and has seen many owners.
It was once the headquarters of the Todt organisation, a Third Reich civil and military engineering group. The palace has several rooms with displays of historic porcelain, seals and Nazi artifacts.
In the area, tourists can also visit a network of underground trails that were once the site of a secret Nazi project. Codenamed Riese (the Giant), the mining and construction project baffles historians to this day - the facilities are thought to have been used for command posts, or for experiments or manufacturing, possibly of an atomic bomb.
'To this day, that's a mystery that has not yet been solved,' said Marek Fedoruk, the town's vice-mayor. 'I think it's an unexplored region that's worth discovering.'
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