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 (map), 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!
Read more about things to do in Riga.
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!
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.
For more information on the best Art Nouveau examples, visit Latvia Tourism.
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.