Paris, Barcelona, Vienna and Riga, Latvia. What do all these cities have in common? They are all world centers of Art Nouveau architecture. In the late 19th and early 20th when the architectural period blossomed, Riga was part of Imperial Russia. Today, more than a third of the buildings in the Central district are built in the style. That’s over 800 buildings!
In Riga, Art Nouveau got its start in 1899 with architect Mikhail Eisenstein, father of the pioneering Soviet film director, Sergei Eisenstein. The main streets in Riga to see the best, most concentrated Art Nouveau buildings, are Elizabetes, Alberta, and Strelnieku Streets. Many of these are Eisenstein’s, done up in the decorative Art Nouveau style. His buildings can be found at Elizabetes 10a and 10b, as well as Alberta 2, 2a, 4, 8, and 13.
The Latvian-specific style of Art Nouveau is labeled Jugendstil (named after the German-Scandinavian movement). The leaders of this romantic-nationalistic Art Nouveau movement were the Latvian architects E. Laube, K. Peksens, and A. Vanags, whose creations can be viewed at 15/17 Terbatas Street and 47, 58, and 62 Brivibas Street.
If you’re heading out to see Riga’s Art Nouveau highlights, check out Riga Tourism’s more detailed Guide: Route: Art Nouveau in Riga’s Boulevards
Riga Art Nouveau Museum
While you’re in the neighborhood absolutely visit the Riga Art Nouveau Museum. It’s set inside 12 Alberta Street, built as the private home for Latvian architect Peksins with the help of Laube. The inside is splendidly decorated in the layout of the rooms, original wall paintings, stained-glass windows, kitchen tiles, and even door and window handles. The rooms also include other early 20th century pieces used in Riga like furniture, artwork, clocks, and clothing. The museum staff is even dressed in period costume! When built in 1903, the building was state-of-the-art with central heating and hot water. Do not miss the staircase—a masterpiece of the style.
View more of Riga’s Art Nouveau buildings below: