The founding of the Paix-Dieu abbey is part of a feminine mystical movement that left its mark on the diocese of Liège in the early 13th century. Around 1238, a group of Cistercian nuns from Val-Benoît in Liège established a new monastery in the village of Oleye (Waremme). In 1244, the abbey was moved to a valley site, at the confluence of several streams. The current buildings, in Mosan style, date from the 17th and 18th centuries, succeeding constructions that had suffered fire, looting, war or major alterations.
La Paix-Dieu presents an architectural unity due to the use of traditional materials and techniques such as brick, Mosan limestone and slate. However, after being sold as national property in 1797 and the dispersal of the nuns, the conventual buildings suffered considerable damage. The cloister and main courtyard were dismantled to salvage materials, the church was converted into a barn, the abbess’ wing into a distillery and then a stable, and the guest quarters were abandoned. The mill and brewery continued to operate, but the latter was demolished in 1878, and the mill was abandoned in the 1950s.
However, in the years 1992-1993, conservation measures were taken by the Walloon Region to protect the site. Since 1997, the buildings have been progressively restored and refurbished to house the “Centre de perfectionnement aux métiers du patrimoine”, managed by the Agence wallonne du Patrimoine and also housing the office of the Journées du Patrimoine Secretariat.