Trieste, Salone dei incanti

Salone degli incanti


Right on the waterfront is a beautiful old building which had been the original Trieste fishmarket. The fishermen would bring their boats to the dockside of the fishmarket and then set up inside to sell their fish. My father says he can remember the market in action, there were these huge marble tables where they fish were displayed for sale. The building was built in a time when there wasn’t any airconditioning and yet it stayed cool due to its construction.

It was open to the sea breezes, now it’s enclosed (and has airconditioning!), but previously it was open. Where now there are green frames and glass before these openings were completely open to let the air circulate. At ground level the gates are all that enclosed the fish market. (These images are from my memory of what it was like before it was restored) Inside the height and shape of the ceiling had the hot air circulating out the upper arches.

With the amount of detail in the building, it can be seen that it was built during the Austro-Hungarian era. (Some research and I found out it was built in 1913 in At Nouveau style. As Trieste was then a prosperous port city, it was an era where new buildings were constructed in that style. There are many beautiful buildings in Trieste dating back to the early 20th century) There are ships’ bows, fish decorations as well as the ceiling motifs.

The bow of a fishing boat, splashing through the water.

Fish motifs on the outside of the building.

The building has been restored and is now used as exhibition space, unfortunately there wasn’t anything on during the time I was in Trieste but I have been in previous years to various temporary exhibitions. Just as I was leaving I saw that they were setting up for the next exhibition which was a jewellery one.  The old fishmarket is now called Salone degli Incanti, Salon of enchantments which I think is a delightful name! It’s an excellent recycling of a beautiful old building when it no longer is suitable for the current time.

There were no exhibitions on when I visited so this was the best I could do to photograph the really lovely and beautifully restored interior. Keeping in mind that it was a fish market, beautiful aesthetics were important, regardless of the use of the building during those well off times of the Austro-Hungarian era.

Over the years I’ve seen some interesting exhibits, I’m disappointed that I missed out on one earlier this year which was Austrian Trieste. My favourite exhibition was one called “Liberty Trieste” which, when I saw the signs I thought it was about the liberation of Trieste after World War II. Huge surprise when I entered and saw it was an architectural exhibition on the Art Nouveau buildings in Trieste! I learnt that in Italian, that particular art style is called “Liberty”, I loved the exhibition and learnt an enormous amount about that building style and how well off Trieste was during the period of 1905 to 1910 when most of those buildings were constructed. (And can still be seen today, the city council encourages, with tax credits, the restoration of those facades.) The current exhibition (according to their website) is on Trieste and coffee, looking at the importance of the coffee trade. Illy caffe was established (and still has its head office) in Trieste.

Here's a link to their website, with some nice pictures of the interior and previous as well as current exhibition.