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Domme - graffiti of the templars
Domme - graffiti of the templars

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France: Domme and the Mysterious Graffiti of the Templars

The graffiti of the Templars refer to the images the Knights Templar carved into the walls of their dungeon in Domme (Dordogne) during their captivity. They are enigmatic and seem to refer to mysterious objects.

What to do in Domme, France?

The town of Domme is a bastide with a walled fortress. A bastide is a medieval town, often with a rectangular street pattern that divides the city into 8 blocks around a market square. In Domme, the shape of a bastide is clear, but the streets aren’t as straight as they usually are due to Domme’s location on top of a mountain.

Domme is a beautiful town. In the summer months, there is an art and antique market on Thursdays. There are cozy restaurants and great souvenir shops.

You can do the following activities:

  • Exploring the town

Domme is a nice medieval town. Definitely worth exploring and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  In the summer there is a small tourist train.

  • Visiting the caves

The entrance to the caves, which extend below the village, is located in the middle of the town. The caves are not particularly large and – if I’m being completely honest – they are not particularly spectacular either.

  • Exploring the graffiti of the Knights Templar
    If you are a lover of mysteries, this is by far the most interesting thing to do in Domme.
Domme

What is interesting about the Graffiti of the Templars?

In 1970, Canon Tonnelier attributed them to the famous Knights Templar. According to him, from 1307 to 1320, 70 Templars were locked up in the towers of Domme and engraved their testimony on the walls of their prison.

According to Tonnelier, the Templar graffiti are sprinkled with symbolism that may provide insight into the templars’ world of thought.
(If you follow this link, you can read their full story in six questions)

However, following a restoration in 2018, historians came to the conclusion that the images could not be linked to the Knights Templar at all. The artworks are only “scribbles” made by people killing time. Personally, I don’t find this a satisfying explanation at all, but it is certainly the easiest and the safest interpretation.

For me, there are messages hidden in these drawings, and one day I hope someone will come up with a better story to explain these engravings. Until then, I will stubbornly follow the ideas of Canon Tonnelier and attribute the images to the Knights Templar. 

So let’s start with their downfall and the reason for their imprisonment.

Phillippe IV- le Bel
Phillippe IV

The downfall of the Knights Templar

The expanding wealth and authority of the Knights Templar alarmed French King Philip IV (the Fair).

Perhaps the fact that he wanted to join the order but was refused played a part. He did not want to take the vow of poverty as king, and given his position, it was presumed that he desired the rank of grand master.

In any case, following this refusal, he sought the backing of Pope Clement V in order to undermine the Templars’ dominance.

Finally, the order was officially dissolved in 1312. All possessions became the property of the hospital knights, much to the annoyance of Philip the Fair, who himself had set his sights on all that wealth.

The last Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, was burned alive in Paris on March 18, 1314, along with 40 other Templars. As the flames slowly consumed him, he is said to have cursed the king and the pope. Both died in the same year.

Domme_Templars_on_Stake
Domme_Templars_on_Stake

Templars in Domme

Domme was only 25 years old when all this took place. Philip the Bold founded it in 1281.

In 1307, the Knights Templar were arrested and imprisoned in the city’s tower. It was a small and dark place for such a large group of people. Some of them killed their time by making drawings on the wall, or maybe they were making a testimony, a statement of who they really were and what they believed to be true. 

Domme, France
The city's towers, where the Templars were held prisoner

What is the meaning of the Templar's Graffiti?

The drawings are said to have been carved into the wall with the templars’ teeth that had fallen out. I don’t know if that’s true. What fascinates me is the message.

The countless crosses, the images of the crucifixion, crowned images of Mary and Christ… these images do not bear witness to people who have mocked the cross, on the contrary. It seems that the Templars in their last years continued to seek comfort in their faith.

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

Picture of an angel

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

In the picture above you can see two angels, the sun, stars, and a moon. On the stone under it, you see the image of God the Father (middle) with Mary Magdalene at His side, holding a cup. On the other side, Jesus sits as king or conqueror with a scepter in his hand.

However, some see in the middle figure Christ with Mary, the mother of Christ, at the right. Then the woman on His left would still represent Mary Magdalene.

It is speculative, but the image could refer to the fact that the bloodline of Jesus has continued in a king line.

The cup in Mary’s hand could be the Grail. According to the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, the holy grail (in Old French Sangreal) is the designation for the offspring of Jesus: Sangreal is not San Greal (holy grail), but Sang Real (royal blood).

Most likely, the picture refers to the last supper. Jesus with bread in his hand (circle with a cross) the person on the left holding a cup. The person on the right looks like a king. He is wearing a crown and a scepter. The question is what is he holding in his hand? 

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

The image above depicts Pope Clement V. The Pope took his hands off the Templars and betrayed them to Philip IV. In 1971, the researcher Tonnellier deciphered the text below the image. According to him, you can read the following: Clement V destructor Templi or Clement V destroyed the Templars. With some effort, you can distinguish the words Templari and Destructor at the bottom. 

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

Various images of the crucifixion. In the foreground, you see Jesus with the two Marys. Particularly noteworthy are the ray-like specks that emerge from the cross’s aisles.

The crucifixion takes place in a church or house. The crosses on the roof are also provided with dots.

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

On this image you can see a lot of crosses. Striking is the triangle on which they stand. All the triangles are divided by a line in the middle.

On the right side two images that we do not recognize so quickly. The top image could refer to the Grail. The bottom image may be a menorah or the seven-armed candle. These objects could refer to a treasure in the Temple mount. 

Cross on a triangle

Domme Graffiti of the Templars
Domme Graffiti of the Templars

I am very curious about the cross on the triangle. The pictures above are from Domme, but recently I found a similar cross on a church in Sivignon (Saone et Loire, France). This church is only 200 years old, so I don’t believe there is a relation with the Knights Templar in this church. 

The cross on a triangle might refer to the Cross of Cavalry, but in this case, the hill or triangle is always split in two, maybe suggesting something 3D, like a pyramid. 

Domme Graffiti of the Templars

Below, you can watch a French video about Domme. 

So draw your own conclusion. Are these images just scribbles from bored people, or are they the last testimony of the Knights Templar? 

I think visiting the Graffiti in Domme is really a must if you love mysteries!

Practical information

You can buy tickets for the city towers at the tourist office. Please inquire in advance about the opening hours because they are limited outside the high season. Visits are only possible under the guidance of a French-speaking guide. On request, you will receive an English translation of the tour on paper. On our last visit in 2014 , photography was forbidden. I took the pictures on this site in 2007.

In short, you have to make some effort to visit this enigmatic place, but for lovers of mysteries, this place is absolutely worth it. 

For recent information, visit this site: LES MYSTÉRIEUX GRAFFITI

Places to stay

If it is still available, 1 logi a Domme is the best place to stay in Domme. It is beautiful and clean, has a lovely garden, and you can use the swimming pool and hot tub. 

If you are looking for accommodation, fill in the dates below to check what is available. You can zoom out to see more hotels in the area. There are some really nice hotels or gites, and you can safely use Booking.com to make a reservation.

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