Riga’s beauty is illustrated by its abundant Art Nouveau buildings that gracefully harmonize the city like a classical concerto coming to life.
From 1980 to 1910, Art Nouveau style became a design movement throughout the United States and Europe. Floral patterns, a wide range of materials, natural tones and objects, animals even insect wings against asymmetrical lines are all ornamental traits of this international style of art.
Following Latvia’s independence, Riga’s Old Town became home to several cultural monuments that were finally restored. Many of these buildings feature a blend of Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism, Modernism, Renaissance and, of course, Art Nouveau.
How many Art Nouveau buildings does Riga have?
If you walk around Riga for a few hours and counted, the number will most likely be somewhere around 800. Most of which were developed during the city’s most robust periods in the late-19th century to early 20th century.
Why is there so much Art Nouveau architecture in Riga?
Most of the Art Nouveau buildings were constructed between 1904-1914, taking inspiration from natural elements and organic forms, including: branches, vines, flowers and leaves. The ornamental design style is preferred by the bourgeoisies of society.
Where can you see Art Nouveau buildings in Riga?
First, head on over to Riga Art Nouveau Center / Museum where visitors can learn the history behind this city’s famous architectural style. The home where the museum is located once belonged to one of the best Art Nouveau architects in Latvian history: Konstantīns Pēkšēns, who created approximately 250 buildings in Riga. This home also belonged to painter Janis Rozentāls and the writer Rūdolfs Blaumanis. There are furniture, artworks that give a glimpse into what the bourgeoisies’ lives were like during a thriving time in history.
Riga is internationally celebrated for abundant Art Nouveau architectures that covers 1/3 of the city. Head over to Albert Street for decorative apartment buildings mainly designed in the late 19th-early 20th century. Architect Mikhail Einstein created many of these structures adorned with romantic and nationalistic elements. The magnificent and historical art covers an entire block, elevating a promenade on Albert Street into a splendid treat for any art fanatic.
The street itself was built in 1901 as it was named after Bishop Albert who founded Riga in 1201.
Another fantastic street to walk down would be Elizabeth Street, especially at its corner with Antonijas Street since there are two of Mikhail Eisenstein’s most recognizable architectures in the city.
Completed in 1903, the 10A building features intricate designs on its exterior, accompanied by large window aperture in the form of keyholes. Additionally, the theme of ornate carriage spring was Einstein’s symbol for his day job as Vidzeme province’s head of the Public Transport Department.
The blue ceramic building next door, 10B, was owned by State Councillor Andrey Lebedinsky. One can admire peacocks, sculptured heads, stucco and geometric designs. The female faces are one of the most beloved by streetwalkers, and have become subjects of stunning photography. The inspiration derived from a sketch published in St. Petersburg, done by Leipzig architect Georg Wünschmann and artist Hans Kozel.