Riga is the European Art Nouveau metropolis – over a third of all buildings in Riga are in this elaborate, flamboyant and just beautiful design in latvian called Jūgendstils. You may ask – why there are so many Art Nouveau buildings in Riga? And the answer is that when art nouveau reached its peak, Riga expierenced a financial boom. So there began the building process of different beautiful Art Nouveou unique design pieces. In addition, its construction took place in a rather short time – from 1901 to 1908.
Riga Art Nouveau characteristics
There is not only one type and style of Riga Art Nouveau, you can see 4 kinds of them: eclectic decorative; national romanticism; rational; vertical or static.
- Eclectic decorative style feature richly decorated facade – female figures, masks and mythical beings, animals and more.
- National romanticism is characterized by the use of local building materials (granite, boulder, dolomite) and the use of national ornaments. The goal of this style was to create a unique architectural style typical just for Latvia.
- Rational Art Nouveau is characterized by almost complete abandonment of decorations in the building’s facade and this style is quite simple.
- Vertical Art Nouveau has expressive vertical accents on buildings and the vertical alignment is achieved by placing rizalite (highlighted narrow structures) along the entire height of the facade.
Well known architects – Eisenstein and Pēkšēns
One of the most popular art nouveau architect was Mikhail Eisenstein. He was also a father of the legendary Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein who directed film Battleship Potemkin and more. A well known Art Nouveau architect was also Konstantīns Pēkšēns, who designed about 250 buildings, including the building at Alberta 12, which was the architect’s home, but now it is the Riga Art Nouveau Museum.
What and where to see?
Art Nouveau architecture is mostly concentrated in the city center area, called the “Silent Center”, a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. It is a territory between Marijas, Matīsa, Hanzas Street and the Riga City Canal. You can see many Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street, Smilšu, Kalēju and more. There is also an Art Nouveau museum in Riga, on Alberta Street 12. The museum is open every day except Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. You can read more about the museum on their website http://www.jugendstils.riga.lv/eng/muzejs