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Gadgets and Gizmos Galore – The Open Market in Riga

17 November, 2014

Gadgets and Gizmos Galore – Open Market in Riga

The Central Market of Riga is the largest bizarre in Europe, and is one of Latvia’s most iconic and famous 20th century structures! It was built between 1924-30, and at the time of its completion was heralded as one of the most progressive and modern markets in the world.

The overall size of the Central Market is 72,300 square metres and it contains more than 3,000 market stands, a grand sight to behold! It is situated on the banks of the river Daugava, and there has actually been a market of sorts in this spot since 1571! However, in 1922, the old market was transferred to a new location due to health and sanitary concerns, and plans were drawn up to replace the bizarre with a dominating marketplace.

The design of the Central Market is particularly fascinating. Five pavilions make up the market, as well as an outside area that surrounds the buildings. The buildings themselves are made of simple concrete and stone, but the top parts of the pavilions were constructed using old metal frameworks from German Zeppelin hangars which were utilised in World War One! Four of these buildings have been placed in a row, while the fifth is perpendicular to the others. All of the pavilions have been developed throughout the last century and have up-to-date central heating and electricity systems, and are all in Art-Deco style.

At first, the Central Market was filled with offices and businesses in 1930, as the rent per square metre was too expensive for street vendors, but prices were decreased in order to increase the popularity of the market and encourage trade stalls to sell their goods inside the buildings. The market flourished until the Nazi German occupation of 1944, where all produce and income from the bazar was used to supply the German army, while vendors at the market could only sell little amounts of what they grew. Two of the hangars were also turned into military barracks. When Latvia was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944, however, it was a different story. The market was renamed the Central Kolkhoz Market, and flourished as a place of culture and income throughout the Soviet period. When Latvia gained independence in 1991, the market was refurbished and renovated to modernise certain aspects of its decaying interior, and merged with the bazaar outside the buildings in order to form the Central Market of Riga as we know it today!

In 1998, the market was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and really is an architectural and engineering feat of its time. It is now seen as a cheap shopping market in Riga, and the Riga City Council are very keen to preserve the cultural value of the pavilions. For those who plan to visit Riga, this market is a must! With over 3,000 different trade stalls, you are very likely to find the item that you are looking for!

This post was brought to you by Alexander, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz

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