Translated by: Lina Yehya Reidan
If nature had a habitat, it would be Douma. If heritage had a title, it would be the red-roofed town.
Douma, its red brick houses and its old market, are full of memories.
Douma, an ancient scorpion-shaped village in Batroun mountainous region, was crowned a tourism town in 1969 and queen of Lebanese villages in 1996.
Douma hosted many civilizations, each of which left behind abundant traces of its culture.
Douma is also characterized by a strategic location which made of the town a compass which guided convoys through a road known as "Al- Sham trails" or "Al Sham road”. It is a road which connects Douma to Al-Sham (Syria) via Baalbek - El Hermel, towards the coastline.
The convoys movement was accompanied by opening a market called "Al Bandr" which had a significant role in strengthening the economic life cycle in the town. Douma witnessed a remarkable social, industrial and economic rise between 1881 and 1914 Douma's golden age.
Douma, a part of Batroun district, is located in a valley surrounded by mountains on an altitude of 1100m. It is 80 Km from Beirut, 30 Km from Jbeil and 43 Km from Tripoli.
Douma borders Tannourine from the east, Bsha'leh from the south, St. Jacob convent from the west and Kfour El-Arabi, Hardeen, Neha and Kferlahed from the north.
Douma's strategic geographic location made of the town a passage way to transport free stems to the coast, where the Phoenicians used them to build ships.
During the Greek and Roman eras, Douma witnessed a prosperous period which accompanied the construction of many worship places in the town. Of those places is Asclapeo temple of which stones were used later in building a church named after Saint Dumyat. The lantern of the priest of the temple, Asclapeos, is still present at the entrance of the old market.
Origin of the name:
The name Douma is of Greek origin meaning "house" "Palace" or "castle". Douma also came from the Latin word "Douma" used to designate Queen Julia Domma, famous for her beauty and intelligence. She was born in Aleppo in 170 B.C (stories mention that she was married to the Roman Caesar Septme Severe who built for her a palace in a village that later took on her name "Douma”).
Douma is also known as "Douma El Hadid" (Douma of Iron) due to the abundance of iron found in its soil and the superior crafts-man ship of its blacksmiths.
Douma ancient market (El Bendr):
Douma has become a meeting place for the lovers of Lebanese architecture and a scene for movie and theater producers, who found in the distinguished village a perfect place to shoot some scenes for their programs and movies.
Douma contains 450 old houses and an ancient market made of 110 shops and it has 5 gates to Batroun, Jbeil, Hermel, Baalbeck, Tripoli and Akkar.
In 1881, Douma witnessed the formation of the first municipal commission which worked on organizing the market. Later, the market witnessed an active movement, mainly with people coming to it from Baalbeck and other villages and towns.
At that period, Douma also witnessed the building of schools and the formation of associations.
The development that the village witnessed in industry and commerce pushed the Othman sultanate to appoint a governor in it, and Douma became known in the mountainous area of Jbeil and Batroun regions.
Douma's municipality, the second to be formed in Lebanon, was first established as a municipal commission upon a Ferman (decree) issued by the Othman Sultan in 1881. The commission aimed at organizing the economic movement at El-Bendr.
Founding the municipality was accompanied by establishing a dispensary, pharmacy, theater, court, police station, prison, and mail office.
The current head of Douma municipality, Joseph Maalouf, mentioned in a talk, that the Council for Development and Construction (CDR) agreed to fund (by 2 million 680 thousand USD) the restoration of Douma ancient market. He also mentioned that the village had witnessed development on all levels of which he mentioned the ongoing project of establishing 6,000 m2, Public Park.
Douma has more than 17 Churches and monasteries: Lady of Annunciation Church, St. Gerges Church, Sts. Charbel and Fouka monastery, St. Nicholas monastery, St. Elias Church, St. John monastery, St. Sarkis convent etc…
The Turks had driven the people of Douma out of their village more than once and then set fire to the entire village. This was the price that the people of Douma had to pay as a result of ambushing a Turk contingent leader and his forty soldiers who came to the village to collect taxes. Stories mention that Douma Sheikh invited the contingent Leader and his 40 soldiers to a dinner banquet where the Leader saw the Sheikh's daughter and wanted to take her as his wife. Though the Sheikh turned down the leader's request, the latter insisted on it. So, the Sheikh of Douma turned to the people of his village, put a plan with them to kill the leader and his 40 soldiers. The Sheikh, with the help of the people of Douma poisoned the leader and his soldiers during the dinner banquet and killed their horses as well. Then they buried them all in a region known as "Jawar AlKhayl" (horse's neighborhood) that incident later known as “Al Qshlaq battle", and was one of the first incidents against the Othman Sultanate.
Douma's Golden Age:
After World War I, immigration from Lebanon increased to the north and south of America. Some of Douma's people, as the case is in other Lebanese villages and towns, immigrated in search for a better living. However, they kept connections with their homeland. Stories mention that the majority of the infrastructure and housing in Douma was built between 1881 and 1914, that period was considered the golden age in the life of Douma and was financed by the money set by those emigrants.
Nowadays, the citizens of Douma hope their village regains its old good days, stressing that improving transportations with Al-Koura, Tripoli, Batroun and Jbeil as well as completing Batroun - Tannourine highway would play a vital role in bringing back prosperity to Douma.