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The artistic style known as "Nouveau" first appeared at the turn of the century, and certainly was a fresh approach and stunning in its diversity - from ornate entrances, building facades to minimalistic detail, Art Nouveau considered functionality as a key guiding light for the new look - interior design and selection of furnishings with many innovative touches.
Rīga was one of the cities at the forefront of the style’s active use, and the examples of it are truly bold and vibrant. The echo was heard in other cities in Latvia, and even in country locales.
Riga – Northern European’s Art Nouveau Capital
Central Riga, the downtown area, is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List thanks to its Medieval dwellings, quaint 19th century wooden structures and its prime examples of Art Nouveau architecture that, actually, are like no other!
Make Riga your next vacation destination and see for yourself.
Attractions worth visiting:
- The very first Art Nouveau-style building is rental property with shops at Audēju iela 7 (1899).
- ’Elegance’ and ‘vision’ are the terms that come to mind when gazing at the adjacent buidings at Elizabetes iela 10a & 10b, designed by the avid advocate of Art Nouveau, the architect Mihails Eizenšteins.
- Evocative female figurines, painted flora, twisted braids and masks are what makes up the facade at Smilšu iela 8.
- The apartment house at Alberta iela 11, designed by Eižens Laube, reflects the efforts of Latvian architects of the day to create a national style. Many natural elements were called forth, like travertine and wood, and embellished with ethnographic ornamentation.
- The facade of the Riga Latvian Society House at Merķeļa iela 13 is adorned with striking figures drawn by one of the masters of Latvian art - Jānis Rozentāls.
The museum Riga Art Nouveau Centre
The multi-floor building now housing the Art Nouveau Museum (Alberta iela 12) was completed in 1903 as the private home of the outstanding Latvian architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns, with the blueprints in collaboration with Eižens Laube. The building’s trademark is its grandiose and challenging central spiral staircase.
Coming directly or indirectly from the homes where they were a part of daily routine are furniture items (early 20th century), tableware, paitings&sculptures, clocks, attire, embroidery, etc.etc. A pleasant chat with one of the lovely ladies dressed in Art Nouveau style is sure to put you in the proper mood.
Art Nouveau oasis in western Latvia
A rich heritage of Art Nouveau architecture can be found in the port city of Liepāja. Herewith are a short-list of edifices that have must-see status:
- Six-story rental property at Baznīcas iela 18, or the Blue Wonder, which may be the most impressive representative of Nouveau that Liepāja sports.
- Multiple decorative elements make the building at Graudu 44 a delight.
- Unique frescos and murals in the stairwell can be seen at Kuršu 21.
- National Romanticism in Liepāja’s Nouveau milieu, as reflected in the apartment houses at both Graudu 34 and Lielajā iela 4.