Art Nouveau architecture in Riga

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A fine Art Nouveau example.

It was my first visit to Latvia and to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I did some research beforehand and learned that the historic centre of Riga, the capital city, was accorded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997, primarily due to its historic architecture. I dug a bit more and learned about the wooden buildings in neo-classical style and its Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) buildings. The latter caught my attention as I’m a big fan of Art Nouveau architecture – I’m always fascinated by the elaborate motifs, the flamboyant mix of straight and curly lines, curvy figures with intriguing expressions and striking colours.

Art Nouveau architecture in Riga

There are about 800 Art Nouveau buildings in Riga (!!), built during one of the city’s most prosperous periods: the late-19th and early-20th centuries, which coincided with the height of the Art Nouveau movement in Europe. One architect, Mikhail Eisenstein, emerged as the driving force behind Riga’s Art Nouveau movement and designed a great number of buildings which are absolute gems. Some of his magnificent creations can be seen along the Elizabetes and Alberta Streets, and the Strēlnieku Street in the Embassy district. I spent some time exploring these streets and simply gaped at the amazing façades. One tip: when you’re walking around Riga’s historic centre, look UP!

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An elaborate Eisenstein creation in Elizabetes Street.

Arguably Eisenstein's most famous design: this building is located at no. 10, Elizabetes Street.

Arguably Eisenstein’s most iconic design: this building is located at no. 10, Elizabetes Street. Notice the intriguing long faces.

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More faces and a gorgeous kidney-shaped window.

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One of the grandest Art Nouveau buildings in Alberta Street. Love the windows!

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The Alberta Street is packed with stunning Art Nouveau!

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The many heads and their expressions on this building are particularly striking.

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Love the red lines. Notice the laughing/screaming(?) heads above the main arches.

You can opt to go for a leisurely stroll around Riga’s Art Nouveau district or a guided walking tour. Either way, make sure you visit the Art Nouveau Museum which features a breathtaking spiral staircase as well as a tour (in period costumes if you wish) through the gorgeous Art Nouveau apartment!

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The breathtaking spiral staircase in the Riga Art Nouveau Museum.

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Inside the Art Nouveau Museum.

I highly recommend allocating plenty of time to explore the Art Nouveau architecture of Riga, especially if you’re a fan of architecture and art/design. It truly is a wondrous experience! When you’ve had your Art Nouveau fix, check out some of the terrific bars and restaurants in the Art Nouveau district. Drop by for a glass of wine at the lovely Vina Studija or indulge yourself in some of Riga’s finest cocktails and finger food at the Art Nouveau-inspired Bar XIII. Then head out to a restaurant in the Alberta or Antonijas streets such as Muusu or Riviera for a fabulous meal.

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Vina Studija in Elizabetes Street.

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Sexy cocktails and finger food at the Art Nouveau Bar XIII in Strelnieku Street down the road from the Art Nouveau Museum. I highly recommend the rhubarb cocktail and the pisco sour – arguably one of the best I’ve ever had!

For more information on the best Art Nouveau examples, visit Latvia Tourism.

Search for hotels in Riga.

Note: My trip to Latvia is a collaboration between iambassador and the Latvian Tourism Development Agency with the support of the European Union Regional Development Fund. As always, all opinions stated above are mine, and mine only.

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7 Responses to “Art Nouveau architecture in Riga”

  1. Keith Jenkins 07/10/2015 1:32 pm
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    Hi Polly,

    Haha, yes, travel bloggers have ‘discovered’ Riga! It’s such a lovely city and the Art Nouveau architecture certainly is impressive. Glad you enjoyed my post! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  2. Polly 07/10/2015 1:26 pm
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    I’ve heard so many good things about Riga in the last few months (mainly from travel bloggers!) but it’s great to learn more about the city’s Art Nouveau architecture from your post, Keith. I certainly had no idea there were 800 buildings featuring the style! Having enjoyed Brussels’ Art Nouveau sights, it’d be fun to compare it with Riga.

  3. Keith Jenkins 21/09/2015 2:36 pm
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    Hi Stephen,
    Yes, Helsinki has some great Art Nouveau examples too but Riga sure takes the cake in terms of numbers of buildings, style and grandeur. Very impressive!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  4. Stephen Garone 20/09/2015 10:28 pm
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    Fantastic! And that staircase! Helsinki has some beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, too, but this looks outstanding. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Keith Jenkins 18/09/2015 12:42 pm
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    Hi Uma,
    The buildings are indeed stunning. Great reason to visit Riga!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. Uma 17/09/2015 8:31 pm
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    What gorgeous buildings … hard to look at what you got at home after strolling through a place like Riga!

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  1. Ten things to do in Riga | Velvet Escape - 30/09/2015

    […] Elizabetes and Alberta Streets, and the Strēlnieku Street in the Embassy district. Read about my Art Nouveau experience in […]

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