Mercat de la Llibertat

mercat de la llibertat

Having come up to Gràcia several times to visit Mercat de l’Abaceria, I discovered that it closed on 21st July and will be renovated – which means demolished and rebuilt. This is a great shame since pretty much all the stalls were made of marble and it was a fantastic example of how Barcelona markets used to look. No doubt though, all the market stall holders relocated to a prefabricated structure, will appreciate the mod cons that come with a new building (when it’s finished).


Not to be outdone, I went and visited another Gràcia market instead – Mercat de la Llibertat, which opened in 1888 and was refurbished in 2009. The original cast iron framework is Modernista in style and was designed by architect Miquel Pasqual i Tintorer. The decorative ironwork was designed by architect, Francesc Berenguer i Mestres. There are shops or cabins around the exterior – these normally sell cloth, garments, home wares, etc. (there are similar shops and stalls outside other local markets).

la porta

The first thing I noticed in this modernised space was air conditioning and with that, electric doors (quite Star Trek) wich open when you approach. When it’s 30º C outside the AC is very welcome, though I’d still prefer old style market stalls and food wrapped in paper.

I arrived after lunch, when stall holders are reopening and tidying up their stalls. Whilst Mercat de la Llibertat isn’t a touristy market, it’s still handy to arrive at a quiet time for photographs.


Above is the Pedro Fruits del Mar stall. The Fish Lady was busy chopping a merluza (hake) for her customers.


She’d previously been arranging her display for the late afternoon shoppers.


Tino specialises in fresh fruit, prepared salads, pastries, couscous and juices – today they were doing a special on Macedònia – fruit salad.


They had some stunning tomatoes too!

vicky victoria

Vicky Victoria (opposite) is another fish stall,


selling live crabs


and spiny lobster. I was impressed by how clean the tanks were and in spite of the lobster sitting on a crab, the crustaceans do have a lot of space to move around.

bayo soler carn

Bayo Soler have one of the largest stalls in the market,

buey vasco

selling meat and poultry on the right

bayo soler formatge

with cheese and charcuterie on the left.


Antolín sells fruit and vegetables,


all of which looked stunning, especially these red peppers.


Bordas is a meat stall at the top of the next isle,


specialising in beef, goat, lamb and veal. Note the whole goat above.

jixiang sushi

Just next door, I was surprised to find Jixiang Sushi – though perhaps not that surprising, since sushi has become very popular everywhere. There are quite strong ties between Spain and Japan, since both countries are great fish lovers. Most people don’t realise that Iberian Jesuits took tempura (the name comes from Latin and relates to fasting) to Japan in the 16th century and that the Japanese come to buy the finest bluefin tuna from the South of Spain – the fish are caught (using a 3,000 year old method) when they enter the Mediterranean to spawn.

joan noi

At the bottom of the market (it’s on a hill) I discovered a fabulous fish stall – Joan Noi.


It sells some fantastic fish (as you’d expect), like the monkfish above


and it also has a restaurant (El Tast de Joan Noi), on the other end, which looks very good and reasonable to boot.

joan noi menu

See for yourself on the menu above. I will be returning, at some point, for lunch!


In the center of the market I found Lagrana,

fruits secs

selling local dried fruit and nuts, some of which could give Fortnum and Mason a very good run for their money.


As with most renovated Catalan markets, there’s a small supermarket, Bonpreu, attached to Mercat de la Llibertat.

bonpreu interior

I find this somewhat strange, but I’ve been told that all market stalls are relatively cheap to rent, so perhaps the local government charges supermarkets a premium to subsidise the market stallholders. I was even more surprised this week to discover a huge Lidl in the basement of the newly renovated Sant Antoni Market …right next to a Roman wall!

In spite of my reservations about modernising old markets, I was pleasantly surprised by Mercat de la Llibertat – it hasn’t been spoiled. The stalls sell the very best produce, which isn’t cheap, but it’s not excessive either. I would come here to shop and I’m definitely returning to eat the fish in Joan Noi.

Mercat de la Llibertat is at: Placa Llibertat, 27, 08012, Gràcia Barcelona.

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Barcelona, Barcelona Bars and Restaurants, Eating Out, Fish, Food, Meat, Restaurants, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Mercat de la Llibertat

  1. Eha says:

    Thank you for the wonderful ramble in you favourite neck of the woods this morning! Alrho’ obviously ‘modernized’ this still leaves that great feeling of being able to shop a ‘little bit’ choice from here and a ‘little bit from there 🙂 ! Almost lost Down Under where the less common specialist stores cost so much more and not less than buying at a market in Spain . . . .love the choice in fish . . . oh, I am going shopping again . . . . and dreaming . . .

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – there are 39 food markets in Barcelona, though I think there’s a constant threat from the larger supermarket chains these days. I do love the fact that all the food stalls tend to have differences in price. Buying fish in the Boqueria, for example, can be quite time consuming relative to the sheer number of stalls competing against each other.

  2. Eha says:

    Yes, Mad, but . . . . !!! Isn’t shopping for the best price as well as the best quality the most fun in the world !!!! . . . . So one walks a bit up’and’down’ !!! So ‘ll make a fool of myself at Joan No . . . so I still have the best mal after . . . . love !!

  3. Ron says:

    I love markets like this. The John Boy fishmonger would be most interesting to me. The monkfish look so fresh. I bet you have a fantastic lunch when you return.

  4. Michelle says:

    Oh how I love a market.

  5. Markets like this are amazing. Even our two little local towns have a building for a permanent market with about 6 spaces. Usually it’s only the one fish stall that’s occupied but God forbid it should close down, there would be a revolution!

  6. This sounds like a fantastic market!

  7. Karen says:

    I love going to markets like this. When you are unfamiliar with a language, it is a great way to learn names of foods you might be ordering in a restaurant. Actually, I try to learn the names of the items that I know I don’t want to eat. 😀

    • Mad Dog says:

      That’s exactly how I learned Spanish to start with – going to the Boqueria and asking for food. Now I learn things by asking about unfamiliar items. You should be OK in restaurants, they generally have Catalan, Spanish and English menus.

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