Riga's Art Nouveau Architecture

Art Nouveau (French for 'new art') is a style in art, architecture and design that started in 1880s and peaked in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. This style spread out through many cities of Europe and even few cities in America.

In Riga, Latvian Romanticism movement made the city home to over 800 Art Nouveau (German Jugendstil) buildings, the biggest and finest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. Being a relatively small city one can find Art Nouveau on virtually every street in the centre and Old Riga (Vecriga).

During the Art Nouveau period, Riga was a wealthy city, well positioned to receive it. Riga was centre for transit trade, a city where factories put out airplanes, train cars, bicycles and automobiles. It was a centre for porcelain production, and it was home to some of the most distinguished scientists and educators of those days.

Then a city of the Russian Empire, Riga saw architects from Germany, Austria and Finland working with for clients from Germany, Russia and Latvia. Indeed, at the turn of the 19th century, Riga was a place where architects fiercely vied with one another in the grandeur of their designs. Among them Mikhail Eisenstein which buildings are found along Elizabetes and Alberta iela.

The Style

Art Nouveau is considered a 'total' style, meaning that it encompasses a hierarchy of scales in design - architecture; interior design; decorative arts including jewellery, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils, and lighting; and the range of visual arts.

Art Nouveau in architecture and interior advocated the use of highly stylized nature as the source of inspiration and expanded the 'natural' repertoire to embrace seaweed, grasses and insects. Correspondingly organic forms, curved lines - especially floral or vegetal - and the like were used.

Dynamic, undulating, and flowing, with curved 'whiplash' lines of syncopated rhythm, characterise much of Art Nouveau. Another feature is the use of hyperbolas and parabolas. Conventional mouldings seem to spring to life and 'grow' into plant-derived forms. Art Nouveau artists quickly used new materials, machined surfaces, and abstraction in the service of pure design.

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Old Riga Jauniela Face
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Location: 25/29 Jauniela Street (Old Riga)
Building on Alberta with Streinieku Iela (Riga Centre)
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Building on Alberta with Streinieku Iela (Riga Centre)
Building on Elizabetes Iela (Riga Centre)
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Building on Elizabetes Iela (Riga Centre)
Old Riga Jauniela Doma Laukums
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Location: Jauniela Iela and Doma Laukums (Old Riga)
Old Riga Smilsu Casablanca pub
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1/3 Smilsu Street (Old Riga)
Old Riga Smilsu Casablanca pub
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1/3 Smilsu Street (Old Riga)
Riga Centre Barona Caka
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Location: Intersection between Barona Iela and A. Caka Iela (Riga Centre) as far I remember.
Riga Centre Alberta Iela [Sers Jesaja Berlins]
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Location: Alberta Iela 2a (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Antonijas Dragon at the door of the building
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Dragon's at the door of the building. Location: Antonijas Iela (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Brivibas Iela 68 (Riga Centre)
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Location: Riga Centre Brivibas Iela 68 (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Brivibas Iela intesection with Stabu Iela
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Location: Brivibas Iela intesection with Stabu Iela (Riga Centre)
Caka Iela 58 intersection with Bruninieku (Riga Centre)
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Location: Caka Iela 58 intersection with Bruninieku (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Antonijas Alberta
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Location: Antonijas Iela corner Alberta Iela (Riga Centre)
Italian Embassy building - Valnu Street (Old Riga)
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Italian Embassy building - Valnu Street (Old Riga)
From Dome Square (Old Riga)
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From Doma Square (Old Riga)
In front of Casablanca pub (Old Riga)
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In front of Casablanca pub (Old Riga)
Riga Centre Gertrudes Iela with Baznicas
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Location: Gertrudes Iela with Baznicas (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Streinieku Iela cross Alberta Iela
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Location: Streinieku Iela with Alberta (Riga Centre)
Riga Centre Streinieku with Alberta
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Location: Streinieku Iela before you arrive to Alberta (Riga Centre)
(Old Riga)
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(Old Riga)
Riga Centre Elizabetes Iela
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Location: Elizabetes Iela near Antonijas Iela (Riga Centre)
School in Terbatas Iela 17 (Riga Centre)
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School in Terbatas Iela 17 (Riga Centre)
Cat House (Old Riga)
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Cat House because the cats figures on top of the roof. (Old Riga)
Cat House building entrance (Old Riga)
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Cat House building entrance (Old Riga)
Riga Centre Matisa Iela K. Barona
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Location: Matisa Iela with K. Barona (Riga Centre)
It seems to be an hospital.
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It seems to be an hospital.
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