The City Hall
The present City Hall stands where the Town Meeting House stood as early as the 13th Century and provided a meeting place for the city's traders and Consuls. In the 15th Century the Palais Communal was founded; the new Town Council met on the ground floor and the Consuls on the first floor. The present building was eventually constructed in the 17th Century to symbolise the new political status awarded to the city by Louis XIV. The King ordered that the city should henceforth be managed by aldermen; he also changed the administration of the port.
Built by Mathieu Portal and Gaspard Puget, the City Hall was work of the great Marseille architect Pierre Puget.
The unusual aspect of the building was that it deliberately separated the traders, who remained on the ground floor, from the aldermen, who met on the first floor. Consequently, access to the first floor was through a building located at the rear, using a wooden walkway. The Hôtel de Ville was extended at the end of the 18th Century when private houses were purchased to constitute the rear body of the building and to form an arcade. The arcade, which separates the two main sections of the building, comprises a vaulted ceiling that is a masterpiece of the stone-cutter's craft. The arcade and the handsome stairs leading to the rear body were both designed by Joseph-Esprit Brun. Puget's building became a National Heritage site in 1948 and now only houses the private offices of the Mayor. The day-to-day administration of the 16 districts that constitute Marseille is now done from 8 Town Hall annexes.
The architect Franck Hammoutène has designed underground development of adjoining square, to create the Espace Villeneuve Bargemon, which received the 2006 Equerre d’Argent award, a national architecture prize. This new space houses the new chamber of the City Council, work and meeting rooms and a large museum area.