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One Of The Highlights Of My Visit
Riga's Central Market was the only thing I'd actually planned to do during my couple of days. A city's markets, to my mind, tell a far better story of the place, and its people, than the guidebooks and the guided tours can ever do.
I certainly wasn't disappointed with this one.
The buildings have a unique architecture, having been converted from former Zeppelin airship hangers, and when it opened as a public market in 1930, whilst Latvia was enjoying its independence, it was considered the largest, and most advanced, in the whole of Europe. Underneath the halls state-of-art refrigeration and freezer spaces were installed, whilst the halls themselves had winter heating and summer cooling.
During the World War II Nazi German occupation the market was effectively turned into a military supply base but after the Soviets regained control it regained its renown as a public marketplace. Although the Soviet agricultural collective ideas were imposed on Latvia the country's kolkhozes still managed to produce exceptional quality fare and 1961 figures estimate that the market was used by up to 70,000 people daily on weekdays and 100,000 at weekends.
Following Latvian independence in 1991 the market was taken over by the Riga City Council who formed a private company, wholly-owned by the council, to manage it. Major investment was required to upgrade the infrastructure and restore the buildings to their former magnificence. The market had also developed a poor reputation for the quality of its produce, the honesty of its traders and the dubious nature of some of its visitors - pickpockets and homeless beggars in particular.
The operating company, Rîgas Centrâltirgus, took on the challenge with 100% commitment and in 1998 the market was included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site listing. Investment has been ongoing, with the most recent project involving modernising the lighting both in and around the halls, and the results are pretty impressive.
Arriving at the market from the direction of the Old City it is immediately obvious that this is working local market, rather than a tourist one. The covered stalls outside the main buildings are a colourful hive of activity with the stallholders offering the best of the best of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables and their discerning customers taking their time to inspect their wares and compare prices.
Once inside the halls you are greeted by a full-sensory assault of visual variety, smells and buzzy conversation and negotiation. The four foodhalls are each dedicated to their range of produce - meat, vegetables, dairy and fish. The spotlessly-clean displays are invitingly artistic in their arrangements and their staff suitably uniformed. Customers cross the whole spectrum, from briefcase-wielding besuited businessmen to basket-bearing babushkas. Young mothers weave their way through the teeming crowds with their babies in pushchairs whilst younger men look dutiful and deliberate as they select their bargains.
The produce itself all looked top-quality and prices seemed very reasonable. Unfortunately I wasn't self-catering on this visit and travelling light, with still a few other cities to visit, I didn't have the opportunity to actually buy anything - but the market was a delight in its own right.
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
There is nothing that is not available here :)
The Riga central market is huge. It also has everything that you could possibly want to buy, including beer from a tanker.
Go and have a wander here, you will enjoy it. Try some of the food available, its fantastic and so cheap.
Clothes are cheap here, there are some tourist based stalls there if you look, but mainly focused on local living and demand.
Well worth a visit
There is a very interesting fresh produce market near the bus and train station. Inside there are many wonderful things such as an Uzbek bakery which produces one product only - naan/non breads - which are cooked on the walls of a big fire oven. There were cheeses, smoked fish, sausages, pickled cabbage and gherkins, the biggest pomegranates I have ever seen, some of which were imported from Uzbekistan, and many other products. The markets also have clothing. These markets are open every day and are for the local people. It is, in my opinion, one of the must see sights in Riga! We bought some Uzbek naan/non breads, a giant pomegranate, cucumbers, some coloured pickled cabbage (which in photographs looks horribly like something in an Emergency Room operation), and a few other things.
The Markets are on the UNESCO Global Heritage list.
The Hangars where the markets are used to be military hangars. But now, it is estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 people visit daily.
Bigger than the biggest thing in Bigland!
I knew Riga's Central Market was big but I had not idea quite how vast...and large in area...it actually is.
There are 5 huge hangars, originally Zeppelin hangars and re-erected on the site in the 1920s. Each is filled with 'stalls' (more like mini-shops without roofs), some hangars with a second level, selling all the foods you can imagine, flowers, things for pets, clothes, fabrics..... One hall is mostly (entirely?) devoted to meat, another to fish...and the other three are a mixture of everything.
And around those huge 'hangers' is a large outdoor market, with stalls selling a huge array of foods and goods. From little old ladies with a few baskets of berries or mushrooms to large fruit-and-veg stalls, honey, rye bread sold by the kilogram, cheese, flowers, tools, shoes, up-to-the-minute latest fashions or matronly dresses...I suspect you can find anything you want here.
I was amazed to find the market open on a Sunday..but it was. I was there by 7am and stall-holders were already setting up, buyers were already buying. The only difference on Sundays is that the market doesn't officially open until 7am (it's 6am on weekdays) and closes a bit earlier....and there are, I think, fewer stalls. Some market-traders clearly take Sundays off, and who can blame them?
I returned early in the morning on a weekday, exploring the hangars in more detail and wandering a bit further around the outdoor section...it just goes on and on and on!
You could very easily spend a couple of hours wandering the Central Market, even if you didn't spend any money there. It's a superb place to people-watch and you will be as amazed as I was at the quantity and variety of foods and goods on sale. I can only assume that the good citizens of Riga (which is not a massive city) are still keen very keen on regular shopping in their market....and that's good.
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Largest and oldest markets in Europe
The Central Market is one of the largest and oldest markets in Europe and has been included in Unesco World Heritage list in 1998. We didn’t buy anything but it was great just to wonder around and observing the local does their shopping. This market is huge. They are many products sold here ranging from cheese, salami, clothes, meat, fish, poultries, vegetables and many others. I reckon if I speak their lingo I’ll be good at bargaining. The large pavilion was once a Zeppelin hangars, no no Led Zeppelin did not hang around here.
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
CENTRAL MARKET PAVILIONS
Riga Central Market, one of the largest markets in Eastern Europe,
is visited daily by 80,000 to 100,000 people.
It was wow! How big is this place, certainly the biggest Market I have ever been to!
The Central Market has big pavilions which have stood here since the 1920's. They were originally constructed as military buildings, and used during World War I as hangars for the huge airships like the Zeppelin, which belonged to the Kaiser’s German army who were based in a town in Kurzeme.
After the war, when Riga City was expanding, it was decided that these hangars could serve as market pavilions, so in 1930, these five 240 metre long, 46 metre wide and 38 metre high halls,
became known as the largest and most modern market in Europe!
They are now on the UNESCO Global Heritage List, including old warehouses in the market area.
I went inside, and found that each Pavilion mainly on sold the one thing....
eg. All clothes, all meat, etc. etc.
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
CENTRAL MARKET OUTSIDE STALLS
After looking in the pavilions, it was time to check the outside area of the Markets.
I couldn't believe the variety here, anything you wanted you would be able to find here. There were plenty of stalls selling the same items, so you can check prices between them. I did buy a bag and bargained, and the price was dropped a little.
Lots of different foods were for sale, including fresh and smoked fish, fresh and marinated vegetables, fruit, berries, milk and cheese, ecological food, country bread, honey and so much more! I loved browsing the flower and the local craft stalls.
Hand-made knitted items, scarves, caps and other useful things and souvenirs.
I didn't have any trouble here, but just be careful in case of pick-pockets.
- Budget Travel
- Women's Travel
The fresh produce market in old Zeppelin hangers
We found people in Riga pleasant and helpful but reserved, and we found it difficult to get a sense of the people until we visited the main fresh produce market. This is magnificently housed in a number of redundant Zeppelin hangers along the waterfront - one of several instances where we came across structures being completely reinvented for other purposes once the initial function had fallen away (which appeals greatly to my recycling instincts).
Markets are always fascinating places, and hugely informative when you're trying to come to terms with an unfamiliar culture. There wasn’t much in the way of exuberant produce, but the high quality of dairy produce, fish and vegetables was unquestionable and there was a strong sense that prudent housewifely skills were being exercised.
The hangers may be functional, but even in mid summer, they were chilly. Goodness only knows how cold they get in the depths of winter!
Central Market an amazing experience
The Central Market is an amazing place. The official market is contained in 5 Zeppelin hangars. In addition to this there are a number of smaller buildings and also outdoor market stalls which ramble off south of the main market. For practical shopping, there are leather goods (I bought a wallet), clothing, souvenirs, cheeses, meats, vegetables and fruit and ... just about anything. For window shoppers, there is everything from pigs' heads to dried fish. We spent most of a morning there and just soaked up the atmosphere. This must be the best free tourist attraction in Riga - great for people watching!
- Budget Travel
South of the Old Town you'll find the absolutely massive central market. I rather like marketplaces, not necessarily because I'll find loads of things I'll want to buy, but markets can be so different in each country, and at the same time so similar in so many ways.
Staffed by mainly older ladies selling all nature of wares, from household wares, to cigarettes, to meat and fish, the Central Market consists of a number of large pavillions in the style of massive aircraft hangars and built in the 1930's. Each pavillion is dedicated to a different product, so one for fish, another for vegetable, another meat, that sort of thing. It can take as long or as short a time as you like to wander through the markets. Like many things in Riga it's closed Sunday and Monday. You can also grab a coffee and a doughnut for about 1.00 lat.
This is a great place to take some photos of local 'colour', but be careful that a few of the local ladies aren't keen. I make it a point to try and avoid taking recognisable photos of people without their permission, so you'll only find pics of the architecture and the stalls here.
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
The Central Market
The Central Market in Riga is not only a shopping facility, in my opinion it is an absolute "must see" place. This market (the biggest one in the Baltics) is near the central railway station and is housed in 5 huge halls that in former times were hangars for zeppelins. Each hall has a specific emphasis, like meat, fish, vegetables etc. Please have a look at my shopping tip as well! Thanks!
Take your time and stroll through the different halls and the outside market area and enjoy the colors of the goods!
When you wander around Riga it is quite noticable that there seems to be a lack of shops selling 'normal' things, rather than stuff aimed at tourists. The reason for this becomes clear when you sight one of the most recognisable buildings of Riga - the vast market halls.
They look as if they were built for their present purpose but they were actually erected by the Germans in the first world war to house a Zeppalin (airship) fleet. Interestingly the Geremans solved the problem of how keep an airship on the ground when not being used. The Germanic mind turned to building these vast Art Deco halls. What did the English do ? Put up a pole and tie them up on a biy of string.
Re-furbished in the 1930's they are still going strong with piles of meat, veg, an amazing fish market, clothes and anything else you care to purchase. I think there was also, somewhat bizzarely, a branch of Lidl as well.
The large Central Market in Riga is situated near the train- and bus stations in five big market halls. Those were originally constructed as zeppelin hangars and were used during WWI. Between 1924 - 1930 the hangars were moved from the town of Vainode to their present place in Riga.
The central market is a lively and colourful place to visit and it is very nice to walk around here for a while watching people and the different products. There are different products on sale in the different market halls. In one you will find meet and in the others you will find diary products, vegetables and fruits, fish and clothes. There are also a lot of stalls around the market halls.
- Budget Travel
Central Market - Centraltirgus
A huge shopping center with everything from food to clothes. This is more a place fore people who live in Latvia and not for tourist (by that I mean shopping) the quality of the clothes here are a dissaster (thats why so cheap) I think after 1 wash you can trow it away. But however It was a great experience to have been here It truly is huge.
But no shopping paradise fore tourists.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Riga Central Market
Located near to the bus station, Riga Market has some astounding architecture, and then there is the food! The market is situated in old zeppelin hangers and the scale is amazing. It seems that the locals do most of their shopping here and that you can buy anything.
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