Latvia | EUNewsletter

The Oldest Giant

Latvia hosts one of the oldest and largest covered markets in Europe – the Riga Central Market. The main structure of the market is five pavilions (for meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products and groceries) which stand out due to their original architecture and giant size: the height of the roof is 20.5 metres, and its width 35 metres. The total area of the market is 5.7 hectares, including the covered area of 1.6 hectares, with more than 3,000 stalls.

The metal roofs of the covered market were not initially constructed in Riga, but rather in Vainode for use as Zeppelin hangars. However, in the 1920s they were transported to the capital to meet the needs of the market. The construction of the market began in 1924 and was completed in 1930. 6 million bricks, 2460 tonnes of iron and 60 thousand barrels of cement were used to construct these giant buildings. In addition to the main building, basements were constructed underneath the pavilions to serve as warehouses. They have main and side passages which connect the five pavilions. The underground market is 2 hectares in size, and the total length of the tunnels is 337 metres. Every day 80-100,000 people visit Riga Central Market. If you are lucky enough to be there, do not miss some of the goods typical to this Riga market but thought to be exotic for foreigners, such as hempseed oil, pig snout, round fried meat pies, and ‘draught’ kvass.

In 1998 the market territory, together with Riga’s Old Town, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.