The Village of Damuels
Damüls is just one of numerous Walser settlements in Vorarlberg but it was the first one mentioned in historical documents. The first Walser people came from today's Swiss Canton of Valais around 1313 by crossing the Furkajoch pass from Laterns, and they settled in the Uga area.
In the late Middle Ages, the inhabitants of the Swiss Canton of Valais were forced to leave their home country due to extreme poverty. Around 1300 they came to Vorarlberg, western Tirol and Grisons where they found secluded, rocky and uncultivated side valleys for their first settlements (Alpe Uga).
The Walser people were "free peasant farmers" with their own jurisdiction and their own parish. Only in case of a war they were commanded by the Earls and had to serve them with "shield and lance". Damuels (Alpe Ugen) was first mentioned in a feudal document issued by the Earls of Montfort (Feldkirch), dating back to 29 May 1313.
During the 13th century, the main aim of the Earls of Montfort as land owners was to increase the population in order to guarantee their country's defense by a maximum number mercenary soldiers. They hired emigrants from the Valais as well, in return they obtained freedom and a piece of own land - which had to be cleared first.
The area surrounding Damuels was covered with dense forests and used as pastureland area even in pre-Walser times. According to linguists, the name "Damuels" is Roman and means either "hill" or "milking place".
Damuels and Fontanella had their own court since 1806, the so-called "Obergericht". Still today the area surrounding Fontanella is known as "Obergricht". In 1390, Damüls and the reign of Feldkirch became a part of Austria.
Damuels is the highest village between the Bregenzerwald and Grosses Walsertal, right at the center of Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost province, in the district of Bregenz (diocese of Feldkirch) at altitudes between 1300 and 1700 meters. It is the center point of Vorarlberg and borders on all provincial districts.