Hakaniemi Market Hall and Market Square

Helsinki, Finland

Submitted by: Maija Merimaa

An old fashioned market hall next to a marketplace in a gentrifying, former working class district.

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Why It Works

Hakaniemi Market Hall is located in a two story brick building in a former working class district in Helsinki. The market that was opened in 1914 and now a days it is the liveliest of the three old central market halls of Helsinki. The hall is located on a square, where during the summer season an outdoor market takes place daily.

What Makes Hakaniemi Market Hall and Market Square a Great Place?

Hakaniemi Square is in a way the center of the surrounding neighborhood, Kallio. It is next to Hameentie – a busy, heavily trafficked street with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. The Square is a transit hub – trams, busses and the subway all stop on the Square. Even though the traffic next to it is busy, the Square is accessible by bike, and there are a few bicycle racks next to the market hall.

The Square is spacious and it has access to water, which makes it a nice place, although not all the architecture around it is exactly pretty. The hall itself is a fascinating old brick building, and inside it has this ‘old times’ atmosphere. The hall smells like fish – like many market halls do – but it is clean.

Hakaniemi Hall is the place where Finns go to when they want to get really good fish, ecological vegetables or just enjoy the atmosphere of shopping in something else than a supermarket. The first floor of Hakaniemi Hall has 38 food stores, and the second has 28 specialty shops – including a 2nd hand bookstore, a shoe repair store and a textile handicrafts store. It has six cafeterias, and the market hall cafeteria on the first floor is the best place in Helsinki place to buy an inexpensive traditional Finnish lunch.

As the neighborhood is still in the middle of gentrification process the clientele is very diverse. It is used more by Helsinkians than by tourists, and the shopkeepers know their regular customers. The Finnish clientele ranges from students and artists living nearby, to people who want special items, to Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland. And yes, the neighborhood is proud of this place, that’s for sure!

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