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Haggle for your huckleberries at this vast market, housed in a series of WWI Zeppelin hangars and spilling outdoors as well. It's an essential Rīga experience, providing bountiful opportunities both for people-watching and to stock up for a picnic lunch. Although the number of traders is dwindling, the dairy and fish departments, each occupying a separate hangar, present a colourful picture of abundance that activates ancient foraging instincts in the visitors.
In operation since 1570, the riverside market flourished during the mid-1600s when the city outgrew Stockholm to become the largest stronghold of the Swedish Empire. Laden with goods, boats travelling down the Daugava would meet here those traversing the Baltic Sea for a mutually beneficial exchange.
In 1930 the market moved to its current location on the border of Central Rīga and the Russified Maskavas neighbourhood (‘Little Moscow’) to make use of the railway, which replaced the river as the principal trade route. Confronted with the market’s ever-growing size, the city of Rīga decided to bring in five enormous German-built Zeppelin hangars from the town of Vainode in Western Latvia. These hangars – each 35m high – added 57,000 sq m of vending space, allowing an additional 1250 vendors to peddle their goods.