Art Nouveau in Riga Latvia

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art nouveau

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

Detail of Eisenstein’s Art Nouveau facade

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.

Art Nouveau detail Riga (10)

the staircase at Alberta 12

View more of Riga’s Art Nouveau buildings below:

 

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (4 Alberta)

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (3)

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (4)

 

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (5)

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (9)

Eisenstein Art Nouveau (Alberta 13)

Alberta 13

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and example of Jugendstil

Eisenstein Art Nouveau Riga (Alberta 4)

Eisenstein’s at Alberta 4

Eisenstein Art Nouveau Riga (8)

Eisenstein Art Nouveau Riga (Alberta 4)

Art Nouveau detail Riga (8)

stained-glass inside the museum

Art Nouveau detail Riga

Art Nouveau clothing and furniture

 

Art Nouveau detail Riga (3)

museum wall detail

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

9 Comments

  1. kami says:

    even if I’m not a huge Riga fan, art nouveau is one of the things I enjoy the most there, you can find some really fine examples of it spread around boulevards! great pictures!

  2. Stephen Bugno says:

    Thanks @Kami Glad you liked them.

    @Jenna Yep, You’d like Riga. Glad to hear that about Prague. I’m going there for the first time later this week.

  3. Ayngelina says:

    I’m not much on old things but that staircase is beautiful.

  4. Jenna says:

    I’m crazy about Art Nouveau and really fell in love with it in Prague. I had no idea there was so much in Riga. I will have to go there one day just because of this.

  5. Your pictures are stunning and crisp! Wow, you’ve really captured the architecture quite beautifully! What a pleasure to stumble upon your post today!

  6. Stephen Bugno says:

    Thanks @Jeff Glad you liked them!

  7. Charlotte says:

    Its a beautiful kind of architecture…Glad that you share to us…Thank you for sharing with us..

  8. Audrey says:

    I first came across Art Nouveau in poster form; I really like the work of Alfons Mucha, but by the looks of it I would really enjoy a walk around Riga!

  9. Jemma says:

    Visiting Art Nouveau really makes you feel like you’re in the 20th century. I hope they can really preserve this beautiful place for many many years!

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