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In Barcelona there is an old tradition of fresh food markets, at least one in each neighborhood. The most popular of all the markets of Barcelona is La Boqueria or Sant Josep Market in the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) neighborhood just at the side of the Ramblas.
As many other neighborhoods of Barcelona the Gracia Neighborhood is divided into different areas. The most traditional one is La Vila de Gracia, that was an Independent town from 1850 when it had over 13.000 inhabitants untill it was finally rejoined to Barcelona in 1897 when it had become a crowed and active town with nearly 62.000 inhabitants.
One of the markets of the Vila de Gracia area is the Mercat de la Llibertat.
The area around the Market started growing around 1831 when it was urbanized leaving an empty Square with the name of Plaça del Rei (King Square), renamed plaça de la Constitució in 1836 (Constitution Square) and in 1840 was renamed again withits actual name Plaça de la Llibetat (Freedom Square). The empty square was used since the very first days by the farmers to sell their wares.
But it was not till 1888 that the actual structure was built according to the project of architect Miquel Pasqual i Tintoré with notable modernist rough iron decorations from architect Francesc Berenguer i Mestres, friend and admirer of Antoni Gaudi. The building made of metallic structure has a rectangular shape and is formed of three naves. The central nave has a greater breadth and height and the roof is supported by iron metal trusses.
Through the years and because of changes in life style the market suffered notable degradation, even though it formed part of the listing of Barcelona’s buildings with historical and artistic heritage and enjoyed the highest level of protection.
A complete renewal project that ended in 2009 after 18 months of work foresaw the restoration of all the structure of the market to recover the existing facade and roof as well as the cleaning and protection of the original metallic structural elements and ornaments and adding to it also an interesting engineering system to keep the structure in place while the interior was excavated to create an underground loading dock with a ramp from the street on one side of the building with important improvement of the selective collection of garbage, air conditioning system, construction of parking underground for traders and new industrial loading docks area.
On the ground floor a complete reorganization of the existing stands facilitated the work of recovery and repair of the iron structure and redistribution of the stands to promote the external visibility of heritage values of the building that allowed also the installation of a Supermarket inside the structure alongside the traditional fresh good stands.