Discover Art Nouveau in Riga

Posted by Gabriele Gudaityte  |  March 04, 2016

Got free time in Latvia’s capital, Riga? Don’t miss the great opportunity to discover Europe’s most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in stunning Alberta, Strelnieku, and Elizabete streets. Admired by both tourists and locals, Riga’s beautiful Art Nouveau architecture upgrades your city tour with elegant memories. Learn about Riga’s architectural history from the blog.

Magnificent Art Nouveau Heritage in Riga

The Strelnieku area, located in central Riga, is considered one of Eastern Europe’s most beautiful streets. It’s evidence of elegance and artistic expression, showcasing why Riga became one of the world’s centers of Art Nouveau architecture.

The Art Nouveau style existed from the last decade of the 19th century until the beginning of World War II. This direction in architecture and arts was popular in both Europe and the US. It perfectly reflected the spirit of fin de siècle, creating a stylistically unified environment that merged applied and performing arts. Art Nouveau has stylization and naturalism properties, engaging in the search for symbolic meanings. It was beloved and funded by the bourgeoisie.

The brightest examples are found in Nancy (France), Great Britain (London, Glasgow), Belgium (Brussels), Austria (Vienna), and other countries. After WWII, Art Nouveau became Art Deco. The term arises from a Parisian shop by the Eiffel Tower owned by Samuel Bingo. In other countries, the term took forms such as Jugend (Germany), Modernism (Catalonia), Modern (Russian), Secession (Austria), Paling Stijl (Belgium), Gaudi (Spain), Stile de Nouille (Italy), or Stile Liberty or Stile Floreale, Tiffany – in the US.

What to Expect in Art Nouveau Riga

Elegant neighborhoods in central Riga are known to have one of the world’s greatest collections of Art Nouveau architecture. The Art Nouveau style arose in the late 19th century in Brussels (Belgium), at a time when Riga, in general, was at the peak of economic prosperity. Due to its elegance and luxury, Art Nouveau quickly became popular and left a heritage of over 800 Art Nouveau buildings still decorating Riga, the capital of Latvia.

Take an inspiring walk across eclectically decorated examples of early Art Nouveau designed by M. Eizenšteins, H. Sels, F. Sefels, R. Cirkvics, J. Alksnis, and other Latvian architects. Perpendicular Art Nouveau is one of the most characteristic trends of Riga Art Nouveau. It widely spread after the first years of the 20th century when romantic stylized motifs slowly disappeared from building facades. Shapes of vertical elements on the facade (windows, reliefs, doors) appeared.

When Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity and adoration, Latvia happened to be at the top of the financial boom. That’s how so many examples of original Art Nouveau architecture were built in the first decade of the 20th century.

A must-tour during your stay in Riga. Baltic Tours recommends:

  • Alberta Street #2, 4, 6, 8, 13 – designed by M. Eisenstein, #11 designed by E. Laube
  • Alberta street #12 (entrance from Strelnieku Street) – Riga Art Nouveau Museum
  • Elizabetes Street #10a and 10b – two most iconic masterpieces by M. Eisenstein
  • Strelnieku Street #4a – another M. Eisenstein
  • And many other examples open for your imagination and exploring. Enjoy Riga.