walkscape Riga
Of zeppelins and men
Posted on November 24, 2017

It's a cold cloudy summer day in Riga. From the bus station, the clear view of a long redundant building, standing up behind the Daugava river banks. Outside, a multitude of people speaks silently while buying vegetables and fruit.Suddenly, from the rooftop, a huge Zeppelin airship is ready to take off. Just joking, but one hundred years ago a new way of flying seemed to be visionary, and the German Air Force decided to establish in Riga two hangars where parking two Zeppelins, called Walhalla and Walther.After few years, when this visionary technology become randomly old, the hangars were abandoned for a while.During the 1920s, due to the need of move the old Daugava market, the hangars were reused and in part rebuilt to host the new central market.

The big windows of the tall Neoclassical facades reflect the cloudy sky, and at the same time show off the interior steel framing. Inside, the smell of fish oil is mixed with the post-Soviet grace.

Walking through the huge hangars is incredible to notice how silent the atmosphere is. The old Baltic ladies stand up behind the counters, waiting for the few clients which populate the market this morning. No one is shouting, and this mood lets us know how far the Mediterranean Sea is. Into the counters, a joyful parade of fresh fish still jumps in the middle of the ice. On the side, bright slices of salmon are ready to be sold.

The market is divided into five big pavilions which sell food. Inside each hangar, a multitude of counters keeps company to a few of cheap traditional restaurant, in which try the typical Latvian dishes. From smoked fish to infinite kinds of local bread. Outside the building, the farmer's counters turn red and dark blue, thanks to the berries of the Latvian forests.

And even today, as every day, the Latvian daily life is showing itself. Between salmon and fresh bread, you can breathe the cold Baltic air, and at the same time also a slice of their strong identity.