The Middle Ages in Barcelona were a period of commercial revitalisation. From the 9th century it is known that the count’s residence was at Plaça del Rei. The coexistence of the Church and the political power reactivated the city and encouraged its growth, therefore the city limits where getting smaller every time. Around the 12th century it is known that permanent market was established where today the plaça de l’Angel is, and at the time, this was outside the city walls. The nearby streets to the count’s palace, carrer Llibreteria and carrer Freneria, started their commercial and manufacturing activity. Several medieval documents confirm these activities such as hires and tradings, texts regulating the different trades and even the legal rules that tried to solve the compatibility of the residential and industrial uses of the streets.
During this period, buildings suffered a very strong urbane pressure. Houses were sold, rented or expropriated very fast. Artisans wanted to serve the manufacturing demands that were coming especially from the political centres of power. Noble customers sought special products, according to their social status, and that is why workshops started to specialise their products and new trades were created, for instance “freneria”. This Catalan word, that it is also a street name in the area, describes the art that specialised in making accessories for knights. Also, the “especiers” (spicers), sold and prepared medicines, drugs or cooking spices were established on the south side of carrer Llibreteria.
The block between Llibreteria, Tapineria and Veguer, is where the main political center of power was, named Castell Vell. This was the residence of the viscounts of Barcelona, and afterwards it was occupied by the kings’ “veguer”, the justice administrator, who ordered the construction of a prison on the opposite side of the street. This new prison was in continuous use until the first third of the 19th century.