Lower Silesia is well known for having a number of spa towns including places, such as, Duszniki Zdrój where the teenaged Frederic Chopin famously played a charity concert and Szczawno Zdrój where Winston Churchill took some rest a little while before the onset of WWII. Back in German times, inhabitants of Breslau were routinely sent to these places to escape the bad air and rejuvenate their physical and mental health. But how many of them are there in the region? And do they all offer the same level of quality? Well, officially, there are 12. Before the war there was a 13th, known today as Opolno Zdrój, which was sadly destroyed in the communist era in the search for brown coal.
Today, they function as tourist resorts and can all be found close to the border with the Czech Republic in the mountainous part of the region and present various attractions. Some are in better shape than others and to be honest a couple should be avoided, namely: Przerzeczn Zdrój and Długopolno Zdrój because they are simply not up to a decent standard and are in desperate need of renovation. As for the other ten, the most notable is Polonica Zdrój which has an impressive modernised park, oversized outdoor chessboard, a spa swimming pool, a dry toboggan run course (great for kids and adults alike), a range of health treatments and drinking access to the mineral waters. Duszniki Zdrój is also worth a visit as it features a paper mill museum and hosts an annual Chopin Festival with international concert pianists, and Kudowa Zdrój, quite beautiful in its own right, is within walking distance of an interesting border village (Czermna) with the Czech Republic where you can visit the spooky chapel of skulls. These three spa towns appear one after another on a map so can all be easily visited on a day trip from Wrocław.
All the decent spa towns have special treatment centers where you can indulge in mudbaths, enter salty grotto’s and see rustic style concert halls equipped with grand pianos and of course a large park to walk around. The atmosphere is always relaxed and you will notice that visitors behave in a calm, leisurely fashion. The waters from the 12 towns are slightly different in terms of taste and composition but all claim to be healthy. Some are actually warm since they all come from a source deep underground. In recent times, there has been a move to modestly monetize the spring water and you can expect to pay small fee to enter a drinking point and buy a plastic cup, but I assume this was a move to help pay for improving some of the better places.
The search for spring water doesn’t stop here. Lower Silesia is dotted with unmapped, or only locally known water sources of which I was able to stumble upon a few. The nearest one is in Sulistrowiczki, on the side of Ślęża mountain about 40-minutes away by car. Park near the church and walk up hill about 100-metres and you will see a tap with a small wooden construction. These waters are said to have amazing health benefits and don’t be surprised if you meet a long queue of people with large water containers. Another place is in Bardo Śląskie, 70 km south of Wrocław. The town is known for its excellent water-rafting facility but has a hidden secret. Turn off and park under the second bridge car park which is the typical place for rafting enthusiasts. Walk up a rather steep hill dotted with the various stages Jesus fell while carrying the cross and you will eventually get to a small stone building which conceals another spring water source. Locals have it that this water is particularly good for your eyes and can make miracles happen; that I will leave up to you if you ever get there.
Whatever you do, try to get to at least one of the many spa towns of other sources of water while you’re living in Wrocław because it is a journey worth making for the many reasons earlier stated and can be an adventure in itself to search for the mystical waters that this region holds.
If you have been to a cool spa town or lesser known place where there is a natural spring, please let us know.
Written by: Terry Clark-Ward