The belly of the city – Market halls

Trade is one of the most important aspects of social interaction. Markets and market halls have therefore always occupied an essential place in the development of a city, as they serve as the main intermediaries for the exchange of goods. However, in the lives of the people and in the context of the cities of Brest and Dresden, they have very different meanings.


Halles Saint-Louis (Saint-Louis covered market halls)

The first market halls, built from 1833-1845, were two long, narrow, enclosed iron skeleton buildings with a market square in between, directly north-east of the Saint Louis church. These halls were integrated in 1896 to become a large iron skeleton hall covering both the market halls and the market square, which was destroyed in 1944. The reconstructed market halls (1951-1953) were moved to the other side of the street, north of Rue de Lyon; parking was provided in its basement as well as at the old market site. The new halls are a tall, rhythmically structured reinforced concrete frame building with a flat hipped roof and low, surrounding iron marquises, similar to those of the pre-war building, which provide ‘covered’ access to the shops outside. Nowadays, lively market activity takes place mainly on Sundays in the form of a street market in the area surrounding the Saint-Louis covered market.

12.1 Market at the Halles Saint-Louis, 1935 

12.2 Halles Saint-Louis, reconstruction, ca. 1896 

12.3 Halles Saint-Louis, façade and forecourt, 2021 

Halles Saint-Martin (Saint-Martin covered market halls)

The Halles Saint-Martin were built by the architect Édouard Boucher de Perthes in the eponymous district, which was then undergoing rapid growth. Inaugurated in 1870, they are neoclassical in style and have a metal frame. A local councillor at the time, Joseph Kerros, lobbied for the construction to meet hygiene standards in order to ward off the cholera epidemics that were spreading at the time. The Halles, which were not damaged during the war, were restored and refurbished by the architect Jean-Jacques Morvan in 2003. They are are still a very popular centre of public life today.

12.7 Halles and church Saint-Martin, ca. 1870

12.8 Halles Saint-Martin, interior, 1983 

12.9 Halles Saint-Martin, 2022 

Halles de Recouvrance (Recouvrance market halls)

The first market halls in the Recouvrance district were situated inside, a stone building built in 1891 and destroyed in 1944, They were located on the main road to the western city gate. The new market halls with a striking stepped roof were built from 1949-1951 a block further north off the main road, by the architect Fernand-Paul Chevallier. After a fire in 1990, the hall was replaced (1991-1992) by a local shopping centre with a supermarket, bakery and pharmacy.

12.13 Halles de Recouvrance, post-war reconstruction, ca. 1952 

12.14 Halles de Recouvrance, early 20th century 

12.15 Halles de Recouvrance, post-war reconstruction, interior view, ca. 1952 


The market hall on Antonsplatz

The market hall on Antonsplatz, south of Postplatz, had a gallery floor; it was completed in 1893. The iron skeleton construction, clad in a representative articulated sandstone façade, blended well into the Dresden cityscape. It was badly damaged in the Second World War and finally demolished. Weekly markets, flea markets and then a car park quickly established themselves on this site. At the end of the 2010s, the area was redeveloped with residential and commercial buildings.

12.4 Market hall on Antonsplatz, ca. 1900   

12.5 Market hall on Antonsplatz, interior view, ca. 1900

12.6 Market on Antonsplatz, ca. 1990/1991 

The Neustadt market hall

The Neustadt market hall was opened in 1899 and, like the market hall on Antonsplatz, is a stone-clad iron skeleton building with a gallery floor. Shortly after the end of the war, goods were again sold at provisional market stalls. In 1949, the market hall was taken over by the Konsumgenossenschaft (consumer cooperative), which set up a department store in it in 1967. It was reopened in 2000 after extensive renovation work, which included extending the gallery and converting the basement into sales space. Today, despite a food supermarket, a fitness studio and small retail shops, the market hall is unfortunately characterised by its partial vacancy.

12.10 Dresden-Neustadt market hall, around 1900 

12.11 Dresden-Neustadt Hall, interior, 2022 

12.12 Dresden-Neustadt Halls, 2022 

Friedrichstadt covered wholesale market

The Grossmarkthalle (Wholesale market hall) was built from 1893 to 1895 in Friedrichstadt, west of the city centre. The main reason for its construction was the city’s general desire for better hygienic conditions for the sale of food. The wholesale market hall was connected to the railway network, which made it possible to deliver goods by train or tram. The hall, clad in granite, sandstone elements and clinker, consisted of a central nave and two adjoining side aisles and was lined on the street side by office fixtures; at its south end was an administration building with a clock tower. 

The badly damaged market hall was rebuilt in a simplified form after the war and continued to be used until 1990. Today it houses a savings bank branch and a large discount furniture store.  

12.16 Friedrichstadt covered wholesale market, around 1900

12.17 Friedrichstadt covered wholesale market, 2022