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Art Nouveau in Liepāja

Experts have recognized long ago that not only Riga, the capital of Latvia, but also the third largest city Liepaja can be proud of true values of Art Nouveau architecture. Our city has excellent Art Nouveau wooden architecture which has survived till today, as well as wall and ceiling paintings in the staircases and wood carvings decorating the facades of the buildings.

  • Art Nouveau in Liepāja
  • Art Nouveau in Liepāja
  • Art Nouveau in Liepāja
  • Art Nouveau in Liepāja

The Art Nouveau in Liepaja architecture is reticent and laconic; it harmoniously fits into the overall city building character. The most of Art Nouveau buildings are seen along Graudu, Dzintaru and Liepu streets. Graudu street is lined with the houses built in the early 20th century featuring the elements of romanticism, eclecticism and Art Nouveau.

The whole old town of Liepaja is saturated with unique aura gently treasured by the old ancient wooden and stone houses. The guests of our city take a walk along the narrow cobbled streets and the Seaside Park area with genuine enthusiasm and admiration, recognizing that Art Nouveau in Liepaja is romantic and leisurely. And for that reason several events are planned for 2011 and 2012 to promote international awareness of Art Nouveau in Liepaja.

In 2003 The Hague Central Library (the Netherlands) hosted an exhibition "Art Nouveau in Latvia" providing broad international audience for the first time with an insight in the architecture of the second largest Art Nouveau city in Latvia - Liepaja. Afterwards the exhibition travelled to Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, Liepaja’s sister city Darmstadt, other German cities, Tallinn and Moscow.

The idea of promoting Liepaja as an Art Nouveau town evolved from the successfully implemented series of events in 2010 dedicated to the 170th anniversary of the outstanding architect Max Paul Bertschy. He held the position of the Chief Architect of the city from 1871 until 1902 which provided the opportunity almost solely shape the appearance of Liepaja architecture at the end of the 19th century. This period fully revealed the brick architecture and M.P. Bertschy used it both in the design of living houses, as well as public and industrial buildings, while demonstrating that also industrial facilities can be dressed in beautiful architectural form.

The architectural gourmets will for sure appreciate another unique phenomenon in Liepaja – the expression of Art Nouveau in the buildings of Karosta, then military territory of the Russian Empire. Karosta is the largest historical military territory in the Baltics, developed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Karosta is a fascinating, paradoxical and unique place not only in Latvia, but also world’s history and architecture. Its environment in its own way reflect the interaction of Russian military elegance and Soviet militarism.