2010 World Monuments Watch
Hôtel de Monnaies, an abandoned merchants’ building, is tucked away in the narrow streets of Villemagne L’Argentière in the renowned Languedoc region. The medieval building’s façade and exceptional portal sculptures welcomed Catholic pilgrims and visitors for workshops, storage of goods, and accommodations during the economic prosperity of this region in the thirteenth century. The area flourished from visiting pilgrims and the exploitation of local mines. Unique wall paintings were discovered under layers of more recent paint, providing additional clues to the history of the building and its decoration. The town was attacked during the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, and then again during the French Revolution, at the end of the eighteenth century, when the monks in Villemagne L’Argentière were expelled. The city of Villemagne L’Argentieè took possession of the Hôtel de Monnaies in 1996, and stabilization work was completed to avoid any further damage or collapse. In 2005, a proposed plan for protecting, preserving, and reusing the building was drawn up. The site was included on the 2010 World Monuments Watch.
Since the Watch
After a decade-long advocacy effort by the municipality of Villemagne-l'Argentière, including listing on the 2010 Watch, the Hôtel de Monnaies underwent the first restoration in its history starting in October 2013. The renovation involved the relocation of municipal offices and cost €2.4 million, with funding from the national government, the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and the Hérault department, and with an additional contribution from the small village. Its restoration complete, the building was opened to the public for the first time in September 2015, during the 2015 celebration of European Heritage Days.