A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

Riga Central Market is a must see in Riga. This was one of the rare locations that are used by locals and tourists alike and where we got a better feeling for the Latvian way of life.

Riga Central Market – History

The need for a central market in Riga was already identified by the city council in 1909. The First World War, however, hindered the implementation and a central market was only opened after the war in 1930.

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The initial idea was to use a zeppelin hangar for the market. There were a few of those dotted around Riga and it seemed like a good way to make use of them. After long debates, this idea was abandoned. A hangar of that size would have been too expensive to heat up from the cold outside temperatures of Riga. Necessary materials to install heating were not available as well. The conclusion was to use the upper half of a hangar and to place it on newly build brick and ferroconcrete walls.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

Four smaller halls that are 70 meters long and measure 2.500 m² and a bigger hall that is 140 meters long and measures 5.000 m² were built that way.

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A huge system of connected vaults was created under the pavilions. It resembles an underground city with all the streets and passageways and a 337 meter long “main road” that connects everything. Exits lead up to the canal and cargo lifts were installed.

Since 1938 the vaults hold 27 freezers with a capacity of 310.000 kg. During Soviet times it was possible to store up to 700 tons of produce down there. During that time contracts with 60 kolkhozes were made that ensured regular deliveries of goods to the market. Old sales figures suggest that 200.000 tons of meat, 7 million eggs and 9000 potatoes were sold. During the week between 50.000 and 70.000 people came to the market, even more on the weekends.

Riga Central Market became a stock company in 1995 and is owned by the city of Riga. In 1997 it got enlisted as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

Our visit

What a humungous market!

Visitors of Riga Central Market should come with enough time to discover all the aisles and sellers without having to rush. We visited the market in December and only found a very little outdoors farmers market. Many of the stalls were empty, but that is understandable in temperatures below zero. I reckon the sight is much more exciting in the warmer months when the plentiful sellers offer their local produce.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

This market is huge and from an architectural standpoint alone worth a visit. A little further from the other halls visitors find the biggest hall. Mostly meat is sold in there. Everything that the heart and the stomach desire can be found here. From pork to poultry the offer covered everything we could think of.

The four smaller halls are all next to each other and connected. Different products are sold in each hall. There is a respective hall for dairy products, one for fruit and veg, one for gastronomy and one for fish. Unfortunately, the gastronomy hall was under construction. I would have loved to taste all the goods at all the different stalls.

The fruit and veg department was not much of a surprise for us. We saw everything you would expect on a fruit and veg market. A little unusual was the look of the open tubs of grated white and red cabbage, sauerkraut and carrots out of which the customers were served.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

In the dairy hall, we found many locally produced cheeses and curds with different fat contents.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

What I liked best, aside from the smell, was the fish hall. Innumerable kinds of smoked fish and fresh fish were offered here.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

On offer was fish from the Baltic Sea but also freshwater fish. I went on a quest in this hall to find the great sea lamprey, or nine eyes. I saw something on TV about this fish which gets its nickname nine eyes from its seven gills and two real eyes and I was curious if I’d be able to find it here. It has a long body, almost like an eel, that can get up to 30 or 40 centimetres long. The fish is regarded as particularly fresh when it tries to attach itself to the hand of the buyer. It took a little while, but I actually found some stalls that sell them alive. But in the end, I was not brave enough to put my hand in the box with the opening and closing mouths with pointy teeth to be honest. So I can not confirm the findings of the documentary I had seen.

A fascinating visit to Riga Central Market

We spent almost three hours on the market and we didn’t even visit the flower market at night or the trade centre and we didn’t buy or eat anything. Still, we left Riga Central Market with so many impressions that we were a little lightheaded. A wonderful trip to the market!



Negu St. 7,
LV-1050 Riga,

Opening Hours:

Meat Pavilion:
Monday to Sunday: 7.00 – 18.00

Fruit and Veg Pavilion:
Monday to Sunday: 7.00 – 18.00

Fish Pavilion:
Monday to Sunday: 8.00 – 18.00

Dairy Pavilion:
Monday to Saturday: 7.30 – 18.00
Sunday: 7.30 – 17.00

Gastronomy Pavilion:
Monday to Saturday: 7.30 – 18.00
Sunday: 7.30 – 17.00

Trade Centre “Abava”:
Monday to Saturday: 7.30 – 18.00
Sunday: 7.30 – 17.00

Farmers Market:
(Gaizina Street, Spīķeru Street, Pūpolu Street)
Car boot sale
Monday to Sunday: 17.00 – 7.30
Monday to Sunday: 17.00 – 22.00 (Rest of the time wholesale)
Warehouse sellers:
Monday to Sunday: 0.00 to 24.00

Flower Night Market:
(Pūpolu Street)
Monday to Sunday: 19.00 – 7.00

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