Ladismith is situated in the Klein Karoo on Route 62, at the foot of the Klein Swartberg mountain range. The majestic Towerkop, with its split peak, looms above the town. Local legend has it that an angry witch, flying over the mountain during a stormy night, found the peak obstructing her way, and in anger struck it with her wand, causing it to split in two!
Ladismith is about 340km north east of Cape Town, and is linked by tarred main roads to all other major centres such as Oudtshoorn (100km), Montagu (139km), George (160km), Mossel Bay (185km) and Port Elizabeth (420km).
HistoryThe Dutch Reformed congregation was founded in 1851 and the town was established in 1852 on a section of the farm 'Ylandsvalley'. Named after Lady Juana Smith, the Spanish-born wife of Sir Harry Smith, Governor of the Cape Colony. The original 'Ladysmith' was changed to 'Ladismith' in 1879 to prevent confusion with its namesake in Kwazulu-Natal.
Ladismith, as with the rest of the Klein Karoo benefited from the ostrich feather boom period at the beginning of the previous century. This opulence attracted several Jewish families from the Baltic states and at one stage in the early 1900's there were about thirty Jewish families living there. A synagogue as well as a school was built.
The town and district boast several building styles from bygone eras. Several buildings have been declared National Monuments. The town also has its own unique building style – a simplified Georgian style, the so-called 'Ladismith' style. Other styles include Victorian, Neo-Gothic, Lithuanian, Edwardian, Cape Dutch Revival, Regency and Rural (Karoo).