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Riga Central Market

Zeppelins were German-made rigid airships that were looked at as the transportation of the future. Five giant hangars were designed to house these airships in the center of Riga, Latvia. When Zeppelins were no longer in use the hangars were turned into Europe’s largest market bazaar. Today along with Old Town Riga it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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They had been built in neo-Classical and Art Deco styles and housed 3,000 trade stands. Farmers and craftsmen stood at hundreds of tables to sell their wares. When the next Nazi occupation occurred the market was shut down so it could be used to house troops and army supplies. When the Soviets arrived it was once again a market and known as a successful market in the Soviet Union. Of course, during this time the market had very little product to sell and if anything good turned up one could expect long lines.

Now that Latvia is an independent country the Central Market has become of interest to tourists. The hangars are still there having been renovated hundreds of times but now they are just a shadow of their former selves. There has been so much modernization that very little remains of what they once originally looked like. However, this is the place where you can get some food culture, see the people of Riga and purchase fresh produce for less than at the supermarkets. Actually, at the Central Market, you can purchase practically anything imaginable and not just fresh meat and produce. You could say it is a world all its own and it is fascinating to walk around the market both inside and out.

Don’t forget to stop by and drop some crumbs for the hungry pigeons and the gulls would not mind some fresh fish if you would be so kind. The fish pavilion sells little fish called renges in Latvian. It is hard to describe but many people buy these fish because they are inexpensive and they are delicious when cleaned and marinated at home. Cat owners also give them to their cats. At one time there were no special cat foods available and it was renges the cats ate daily. Therefore, the gulls at the market also appreciate it if now and then someone tosses a renge at them. I have done this and they go crazy and really enjoy it. The photos of the gulls and the one of me feeding them are my own. As you see you just have to toss the fish high into the air and the gull will catch it.

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