Two Englishmen were travelling from Esztergom to Buda in 1851. Seeing Dömös, one of them exclaimed with an astonished enthusiasm. “Royal landscape, why are you not in England, where art would decorate you, while here people do not even know your name!” Their surprise was growing more and more when their Hungarian companions told them the history of Dömös and its surroundings.
“As a rare masterpiece of nature”, the river takes another dance-step in the upper part of the Hungarian Danube bend: one step up, and one step down, so that a human being should be even more astonished when marvelling it. The village lies in this corner of the Danube, as if it was the navel of the Pilis-hill, providing the people with an abode since the Ice Age until our days. There were different peoples living here during the Romans, Attila’s Huns, the relatives of the Hungarians, the Avars, and the people of Árpád, who still own this “holy land”.
The Pilis-hill together with Dömös had been a royal estate from the very beginning. The vast forest hid several hunting-seats and cloisters. The chronicle of Hungarian kings, similarly to that of other nations is not free from intrigues, accidents and murders. Dömös was often the scene of great historic events. It was a royal resort, and later a church estate donated by the king after 1107. It was the gathering-place of the Hungarian military forces in the XI century, where powerful, and influential provosts, bishops and kings administered different national affairs and issued charters with their stamps to remain in effect sometimes for centuries: these were litigation and donation letters, documents about property-lines, and disputed issues.
The cathedral of Dömös was built already in the XI. century, which was comparable in its size, beauty, and artistic finish to all the masterpieces of our domestic architecture. It was the royal estate of Álmos. His brother, king Coloman had him and his son, Béla blinded here on his own estate so that they may not inherit the crown.
It is difficult to understand the ways of God: the blind little boy came down in the history of Hungarian kings as Béla II. János Hunyadi and the just king Matthias also had links with Dömös: they spent months together with magnates in the cloister, had disputes with the pope, and launched armies against the more and more menacing Turks.
The Turks ruined the village down to the earth in 1543, and remained in control of this part of the country for one hundred and fifty years. The village became depopulated many times. The hardly flickering light of life only sent some news of itself in the tax registries of the Turks.
After the victorious siege of Buda in 1686, where the very best of the European Christian Armies went to war, Hungary started to be brought down to the rank of a Habsburg province. Some say that it was better to be under the occupant crescent for half a century than under the German emperor for a few years. Despair was great, and the result of it was the freedom fight led by Ferenc Rákóczi II., after the defeat of which, the suppression of the Protestant church, and the forceful transformation of Hungarians into Germans were the main objectives. This situation was alleviated by Maria Theresa. The contract based on the order of socage was concluded in the village, as well. This regulated the relationship between the landlord and those tilling the soil.
The Catholic church was strengthened by the end of the XVIII century, which influenced the life of Dömös, as well. The good or bad fate of the settlement also depended on its parsons, who were the leaders of the village. Religion was practised daily. Holidays and folk traditions coloured and made people forget about the difficult burdens of the peasant existence. Several ditties, traditions, folk songs and beliefs have lived until now, and the people of Dömös keep them alive and pass them on.
The people rose once again against the yoke of the Habsburgs in 1848. Dozens of the people of Dömös went for national guards. They cast guns from the bells. The defeat of the freedom fight was followed by the compromise of 1867, and then half a century that was peaceful.
Due to the closeness of forests and hills, forestry, and clay- and stone mining were very much developed until the First World War. The Danube was a favourable natural resource, and thus transportation to far away lands was easier than in other places. The inhabitants of the village found jobs for themselves in the clay-pits and quarries, and on the timber exploitation sites. The village became known for its flourishing horticulture and fruit production. Most of the men became sailors. Few people know that a Hungarian ship, Kárpátia was the first ship to arrive at the scene of the Titanic’s accident, and his doctor came from Dömös. The people of Dömös still lay wreaths on his grave.
Dömös had a school since 1733. It was operated by the churches until nationalisation took place in 1949. There were actors performing in the village on several occasions. Masquerade processions made the people happy at the time of the harvest, and the carnival. The number of non-governmental organisations; societies and sport clubs increased since the beginning of the XX century.
This peaceful life was broken by the two world wars with all their consequences: poverty, immigration, more than fifty dead and injured.
Dömös, the gate of the Pilis, has been the starting point and destination of many tourists looking for recreation since the 1880-ies. The number of tourists finding accommodation at the resort-places, private houses and panzios is not negligible either, and there is also a camping site waiting for them on the bank of the Danube with all amenities since 1990. The future of Dömös can be found in curative tourism: in its silence, the closeness of the Danube, and its clean air.
The beautiful landscape attracted several artists here both in the first and the second halves of the XX century. Colonies of artists were formed giving inspiration to artists of a European fame.
The Dömös Gallery built in 1976 is the place of permanent and temporary exhibitions and concerts. Its mastermind, and manager was József Vértel stamp graphic artist, who won the award of the UN three times. In the summer, tournament gymnasts evoke the triumphant days of the age of Árpád. Artists playing medieval and renaissance instruments in the light of torches in the church or the Duke Álmos open-air stage bring back the spirit of the Middle Ages, and the most important events of Hungarian history.
The archaeological findings from the land of Dömös can be seen in the Balassa Bálint Museum in Esztergom, and the National Museum in Budapest. The ruin of the church from the XI century is open to visitors with its beautiful architecture and decorations from May to September.