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Do you want to combine a market visit with a touch of time travel? Look for 15 notices in the pavilion, scan the QR codes and delve into the past of the Āgenskalns Market!

At each of the stops, you can see the photographs of the past and learn something interesting. If you follow the sequence of notices, your journey will be chronological, but if you find and view them at random, it will be no less exciting!


Did you know that in the first half of the 19th century, Āgenskalns Market was located at the other end of the street – Nometņu iela? Traders gathered in the vicinity of the pub Sētas krogs, where a narrow, cobbled street still bears the name of the market.

In 1863, it became an official market of Riga, but it was always cramped and disorderly, so in 1895 the city bought the land here for 9 000 roubles and created a new Āgenskalns Market.

At the end of the street – the bright building of the pub Sētas krogs, trading went on in its yard. Later, the market was moved to this end of the street. On the left – the edifice of Hanškineviča nams designed by A. Aschenkampff with shop premises on the ground floor that used to be called Āgenskalns bazaar.

Āgenskalns Market in Riga Plan (1901)

Fragment of the map from the book “Markets of Riga 100 Years Ago” by A. Caune.


The original and current sites of Āgenskalns Market are marked on the map. It shows that before the creation of Bāriņu iela in 1904, the new market square was much larger.


Today, 13 public transport routes lead to the market, but in 1898, when Āgenskalns Market was established, it was a suburb and it took another 7 years for public transport to arrive here.

When the tram line No. 8 was created, it went to the market, moreover – it passed right through it, because at that time the newly created street – Bāriņu iela cut off a small piece of the market square and for a while trading took place on both sides of the tram tracks.

In the cut-off (farthest) morsel of the market, the peasants are selling produce from their horse-drawn carts.

Market from the side of Nometņu iela (1905–1910)


The postcard shows that trading takes place under the open sky or in small huts, which at that time were called palieveņi (“underporches”).

The tram line to Zasulauks was built only around 1930. This market stop soon will be 100 years old.

Āgenskalns Market tram stop (1961)

Photo from the private collection of Artūrs Altbergs.



t the late 19th century, this a suburb with three factories, an orphanage and wooden tenements for families of workers. As soon as the city bought the land for the market, a real construction boom began, and soon it became the new centre of Pārdaugava.


The houses with shop premises, a city school, a hospital and a building of the Estonian Society were constructed in the vicinity of the market.

At that time, more than 9 000 Estonians (~1.7% of Riga residents) lived in city, and most of them settled in this area.

The edifice of Mekeļa nams diagonally across from the market (early 20th century)

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Shop signs were written not only in the official Russian and German languages, but also in Latvian and Estonian.

The construction of the pavilion begins in the market territory (1910)

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The school designed by Schmaeling in Zeļļu iela before the Second World War

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Buildings of the city's 2nd (today – P. Stradiņš) Hospital designed by Schmaeling before the war

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To take in Reinhold Schmaeling’s rationalist Art Nouveau gem fully, it is best viewed from the opposite side of the street to observe the expressive silhouette of the building, the sculptural chimneys and the red brick style characteristic of the architect.

Notably, since very beginning, the building was slightly different from the original project (1911), because the construction was interrupted by the war and the building was completed 14 years later (after the demise of the architect).

Can you find 5 differences? Take a closer look at R. Schmaeling's drawing and find out what has changed in the shape of the building!

Design of the Āgenskalns Market courtyard facade (1911)


Reinhold Georg Schmaeling (1840–1917)


Notably, in R. Schmaeling’s drawing, the coat of arms of Riga is above the central entrance portal, but after the completion of the building, it crowns the facade facing the courtyard. 

For 36 years, he was the chief architect of Riga, helping to shape the unique features of the city, placing Riga on the world’s cultural heritage map.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the market police (in today’s terms – the administration) operated in Āgenskalns and other markets of Riga, headed by the market commissioner, several supervisors-cashiers, a night watchman and a janitor.

Its task was to assign places to traders, collect fees, settle disputes, monitor product compliance with sanitary requirements, control the correct use of weights and measures, and ensure cleanliness.

Market police commissioner and superintendent (1920s)

Photo from the book “Markets of Riga 100 Years Ago” by A. Caune.

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Upon entering the position of market commissioner, an oath had to be taken, but upon reaching the age of 60, the official had to leave the service.

In the tumult of the market, police supervisors-cashiers could be recognized by their service hats and badges.

Market police or administration (1920s)

Photo from the book “Markets of Riga 100 Years Ago” by A. Caune.

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100 years ago, just like today, Āgenskalns Market was the most modern market in Latvia – central heating, sewerage, electric lighting and ventilation, spacious storage cellars, a cafe and a two-floor restaurant! Elevator was installed with a slight delay.

Meat, fish and vegetables were sold on the ground floor, while dairy, eggs, poultry, fruit and flowers – on the upper floor, and there was an apartment for a guard or a sanitary official.

Market just before its opening (1925)

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Picture from the newspaper “Jaunākās Ziņas” (14.11.1925), which announced that the new market building would be opened next week.

The pavilion is covered with pre-election posters (1931)

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To ensure city with fresh and cheap produce, in the first independent Latvia peasants were exempt from taxes that were applied to shopkeepers. Shifty dealers pretended to be peasants and took advantage of it. Permanent traders in the pavilion suffered from unfair competition.

As a new store was to be opened in the Āgenskalns Market premises, traders held a protest by the market administration!

However, the traders’ protests fell upon deaf ears, and in 1928, the premises of the store were rented out to “Pamats” – a store of the Riga Consumers’ Association, which later, after the merger of several such associations, was named “Vienība”.

Shop window of “Vienība” store in the market (1938)

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Peasants trade from carts (1930s)

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The slogan “COOPERATION LEADS TO PROSPERITY” adorns the shop window of the Riga Consumers’ Association store “Vienība” in the market. At the end of 1930s, there were already 6 shops of the association near the Āgenskalns Market, – a significant detriment to the well-being of the traders in the pavilion.


The market draws a mixed crowd, – even very important gentlemen. The press of the free state reports about the visit of Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis to the Āgenskalns Market:
“…the prime minister bought cheese, cucumbers, carrots, bread, dried fish, etc. While walking around the trading places, he took interest in the prices of rural products. When the prime minister was about to leave, the traderesses, in gratitude for his numerous purchases, on farewell presented him with a bouquet of wild flowers.”

Newspaper “Pēdēja Brīdī” 20.07.1935.

Picture in the magazine “Atpūta” (26.07.1935) with the caption "Prime Minister Dr. K. Ulmanis in Agenskalns market.”

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Prime Minister Ulmanis at the market visit, photographer Eduards Kraucs (1935)

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Both ideological design and product labels everywhere are ensured in two languages. The name “Āgenskalns kolkhoz market” likewise is written in two languages, giant letters adorning the building above the windows of the upper floor. From the central portal to the right – in Latvian, to the left – in Russian.

Scenes of Āgenskalns Market (1959)

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Gan ideoloģiskais noformējums, gan produktu izkārtnes visur ir divās valodās. Arī nosaukums “Āgenskalna kolhoza tirgus” milzu burtiem virs otrā stāva logiem rotājas divās mēlēs. No centrālā portāla pa labi – latviešu, pa kreisi – krievu valodā.

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In 1953, a large open shed was constructed for the sales in the courtyard, and in the 1960s it was transformed into a closed pavilion.

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On the side of the pavilion, flowers and home-grown farm products were sold at wooden tables. The trees planted during the time of independent Latvia cast a pleasant shade on the market square.

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The author of this and the previous 4 photos – Grigorijs Akmoļinskis (1959).

Vendors at Āgenskalns Market (1960s)

Photo from the private collection of Rita Vaite, available at

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Queue at the big barrel (1961

Photo from the private collection of Artūrs Altbergs


From such giant barrels (which could be pulled by a car), kvass or beer, sometimes also milk, were often sold in the market and on the street.


After regaining independence, a free market storm raged in Latvia, and the markets of Riga were flooded with imported goods of unknown origin. The giant trade boom was difficult to control, and under these conditions the Āgenskalns Market gained a greater local trust because it was smaller and better supervised. There was no need to fear either suspicious imports or a dog meat scandal. However, at the same time, this was a more expensive market, as the small area meant less competition amongst the traders.

Unpackaged milk is sold from kvass barrels (1991)

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The milk processing factory Rīgas Piena kombināts catastrophically lacked packaging, therefore kvass barrels were rented to sell milk on tap.

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The author of the last 3 photos – F. Seifuļins (1993).


On the threshold of the new millennium, the Āgenskalns Market, which had just turned 100 years old, was decrepit and stuck in the past – messy food stalls, sellers of illegal records, belaši (meat pies boiled in oil) and beggars.

In 1998, the market was given on a long-term lease, the new managers promised modernisation, yet the promise did not materialise and for the next 20 years, the Āgenskalns Market continued to disintegrate.

Scenes of Āgenskalns Market (1998)

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The author of the last 3 photos – G. Grigalis (1998).

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The author of the last 5 photos – G. Jemeljanovs (2001).


In 2018 the owners of nearby Kalnciema Quarter took over the management of the market, which had become a ruin, having deteriorated to a critical state.
Only the insane would seek to invest millions in municipally owned property to revive the heart of a neighbourhood that has been reduced to a slum. The restoration spanned 4 years and in 2022, despite the menace of pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the market was reopened.


The restoration highlighted the authenticity of the building while introducing contemporary improvements in both form and content. The modern way of life is oriented towards enjoying direct experiences – in addition to shopping, the market is a place for spending time and socializing. The market has become a community centre.

The derelict pavilion before renovation (2018)

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Disintegration reigned supreme, everything needed restoration – from the basement floors to the chimneys. All the load-bearing structures and coverings, communications and the cracked brickwork called for renovation.

Transformation of Āgenskalns Market (2018 and 2022)

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The restoration of the historic pavilion brought a discovery of various interesting traces of the past – bullet marks left by the war in the facade masonry and roof structures, the ancient pavement under the asphalt, the original stairs and other details, which have been carefully restored to serve the future. However, the most intriguing revelation was held by the basements of the market!

Two unique, about a century old cooling chambers with peat thermal insulation on the walls were found underground. They were used for storing fish and other perishables. Most likely, ice was brought from the Daugava and placed in a special bunker, – when it melted, it would flow through the ducts and cool the chambers.

The steps of authentic stairs still bear the manufacturer’s name. They were made at the Riga cement product factory “Carl Nevermann & Co.” (later renamed “Kārlis Nevermans un biedri”).

Picture of the factory (at Ganību dambis 19) in the company’s brochure (1910).


Advertisement of the factory in the Riga address book (1925).


The artifacts the market include the gallery comprising coat of arms of the Latvian towns. Some show erroneous names of towns. Today, they have been beautifully restored, intentionally retaining the original misspellings.

Coat of arms gallery before reconstruction (2018)


Restored coats of arms with original errors



To safeguard the testimonies of the past, we invited people to share their personal memories of the Āgenskalns Market and the experiences therein.
The most vivid fragments from the abundant store of memories are included in this collection, inviting the reader on a time travel through Āgenskalns Market.


Āgenskalns Market was an important station in the walks of Latvian poet Ojārs Vācietis, who lived nearby. He is said to have had a real passion for shopping in the market, – he liked to listen to people conversing, to become immersed in the market’s commotion.
Today, we can still perceive the moods of the market experienced by the poet by listening to the verse read by the author!

Āgenskalna tirgus rītsOjārs Vācietis
00:00 / 01:08

Latvian poet Ojārs Vācietis (1933-1983)



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The words of the poem “Morning at Āgenskalns market” in Latvian (from the collection “Piano Concert”, 1978) have become the lyrics of the songs performed by the bands “Eolika” and “Spāre”. 

Writer Andra Neiburga (1957–2019)


Story "Sun was shining"

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An enchanting depiction of the Āgenskalns Market in the 1960s introduces the literary debut of Latvian writer and artist Andra Neiburga – the story “Sun was shining”, which was later included in her first collection of stories “Stuffed Birds and Caged Birds” (1988).
This little book made Andra Neiburga one of the most outstanding young female writers of the time

Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis and writer Nora Ikstena (2006)

Photo from the media archive of newspaper “Diena”.

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“The Indefinite Was” (2013)


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The trip to Āgenskalns Market is amongst the cherished childhood memories of the poet Imants Ziedonis, immortalized in the book “The Indefinite Was” (2013) created together with writer Nora Ikstena.

The narrative is based on sources in Latvian: the book “Markets of Riga 100 Years Ago” (2020) by historian A. Caune, articles and pictures from the digital journal “About Āgenskalns” by local historian I. Linde, the book “Riga City Architect Reinhold Schmaeling” (2011) by J. Krastiņš, the information published on the website of association “Cita Rīga", as well as the materials available at, the State Historical Archive of Latvia and Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents.

The project “Testimonies of Āgenskalns Market” is co-funded by the Riga City Council and the “In-Habit” project of the EU programme "Horizon 2020".

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