Top: View of the ship graveyard (used by permission of ilovedunakanyar.hu/Kristóf Eszter); Jégtörő X; Center: Heckenast villa; Dobozi memorial; view of Pilismarót.
Erika Papp Faber
Located a mile and a half inland from the Danube, the birthplace of Dr. Lengyel Árpád of Titanic rescue fame has a history going back to Roman times. In those days it was called Ad Herculanem, and was a considerable fortified Roman colony.
Centuries later, the Turks ravaged the area. According to local folklore, a major battle with the Turks occurred at Pilismarót after the disastrous battle of Mohács (August 29, 1526, during which the king and most of the nobility and ecclesiastic leaders perished). Those who survived that catastrophe fled to this part of the wooded Vértes Mountains, where they dug themselves in and protected themselves and their families with a wagon fort. They were able to hold out against the Turkish onslaught for three days, inflicting serious casualties on the attackers. But then the Turks brought in cannon from Buda, and slaughtered the defenders. The number of casualties varies according to source, from 15,000 to 25,000, given by contemporary chronicles. A modern historian questions these numbers, stating that there could not have been more than 5,000 people killed.
But everyone mentions the valor of Dobozi Mihály. When the Turks broke through the defenses, he jumped on his horse and grabbed his wife Ilona, hoping to escape with her. However, his horse collapsed under the double burden. Ilona then begged him to kill her, so she would not fall prey to the Turks, and Dobozi plunged his sword into her chest, then fought on until he himself was cut down.
A memorial to Dobozi was erected in Pilismarót in 1924.
The only trouble with this legend is: the battle did not take place at Pilismarót, but at Pusztamarót, several miles further upstream and inland!
But even if Pilismarót was not the scene of this major battle, it still has another claim to fame: the villa that had belonged to Heckenast Gusztáv, the 19th century Budapest printer who yielded to the insistence of Petőfi and his friends and printed out the demands of the Revolution, the first publication without Austrian censorship.
Considering Dr. Lengyel’s connection with the sinking of the Titanic, it is rather ironic that Pilismarót has a ”ship graveyard”, consisting of (mostly still floating) rusty old river barges, dredges and so-called elevators which conveyed dredged gravel unto barges. But it seems even more apropos - and eerie! - that in this watery "graveyard" there is even an icebreaker, "Jégtörő X"! It had been utilized on the Danube which, in the winter, is often clogged with ice. Gives one goosebumps!
All these wrecks are slowly being broken up, and will probably disappear eventually.