This unique site is found almost in the very heart of Riga, a few dozen steps away from the Old Town of Riga, on the bank of the Daugava, next to Riga Bus Station and Central Railway Station, close to a vivid monument of Soviet architecture −the 21 storey high Academy of Sciences high-rise, it is Riga Central Market, one of the largest markets in Eastern Europe, and it is still functioning – it is visited daily by 80 000 to 100 000 people. The market is a popular place for shopping, offering almost everything – both products farmed in the Latvian countryside and produced by the farmers themselves and exotic fruit and manufactured goods.
Fresh and smoked fish, various meat products, fresh and marinated vegetables, fruit, berries, milk and cheese, ecological food, real country bread, honey –this extensive range of products is available at Riga Central Market, additionally, you can sample ready-for-use food products on the spot.
It is also possible to buy products made by the local craftsmen here – hand-made knitted socks, scarves, caps and other useful things and souvenirs. Moreover, you can haggle for the price. However, it is worth noting that the market is visited by multitudes of people which makes this place attractive also for fraudsters and pickpockets. So be careful!
The Central Market is renowned for of its pavilions which since the 1920s have been a striking landmark of the city and are an important architectural site. What are these strange buildings, acclaimed by global architects and designers? It turns out that these were originally constructed as military buildings!
During World War I these were hangars for the huge dirigibles of the Kaiser’s German army which were based in a town in Kurzeme – Vaiņode. After the war, when Riga City was expanding the Central Market, it was decided that these hangars could serve as market pavilions. Thus, these five 240 metre long, 46 metre wide and 38 metre high halls came to Riga, but the Central Market itself was acknowledged to be the largest and most modern market in Europe in 1930!
In 1998 the vast territory of Riga Central Market was included on the UNESCO Global Heritage List. From the perspective of architecture, the market is interesting not only because of its pavilions, but also the old warehouses, the so-called spīķeri, which are located within the market and next to it. At present, a block of creative industries has been set up in the old warehouses.