The Art Nouveau faces in Riga

If you go to Riga you have to take time to see some of the many art nouveau buildings.
The historic center of Riga is an UNESCO World Heritage site, and has the finest collection (quality and the quantity) of art nouveau buildings in all of Europe.

art noveaux blues

I studied architecture, and buildings have always naturally fascinated me a passion I share with my dad:) We are always looking more up than straight ahead, when we go somewhere together.

Morten, sadly doesn’t share my enthusiasm, so he normally selects one thong that he wants to se or do, and then he is in charge. And in Riga he actually chose to be in charge of what we called the “Treasure hunt for faces”… no we are not kids, but who doesn’t like a good treasure hunt:)

I like to do some rough research of the place and location before I set of so it’s easy to find, but I was busy planing my 30th birthday right before we left, so didn’t get to it.
If I see a location on a map one time, I will be able to remember an approximate location for at least a week.. a skill that comes in very handy when traveling. Morten was in charge of the “face hunt”, but hadn’t noted any street names, so after a day of endless wandering, he surrendered and let me look it up. Most houses are on Elisabeth, Strēlnieku and Alberta Iela (Street).

The second day of hunting, we did find our treasures:)

Looking like a castle

Fox building Riga

Morten taking pictures of faces

We almost strained our necks looking up all day, but it was a lot of fun:)

Art Nouveau in gennerel

Art nouveau in general, is inspired by nature with lots of curvy lines, typically flower and plant inspired. Architecturally Art Nouveau is characterized by very decorated facades, statues, faces, leaves, flows, vases. Beautiful hand painted glass in curvy windows and exposed iron. Most Art Nouveau buildings were build between 1890-19101.

Art noveaux lady door Riga

Art Nouveau was not only on the facade of a building, but considered a “total” style. It was expressed in the interior, graphic art, jewelry, furniture, lighting and literature as well. It was a lifestyle and mindset, inspired by “longing for creativity”.

Painted glass was often used in and above doors, and furniture designed in organic lines.

Art Nouveau  interior

If you want to se an original interior, check out the Riga Art Nouveau Museum. The staff is even dressed in clothes from the period, which is kind of fun to see. They just walk around or sit together drinking tea.. which is a nice twist.

art noveaux stairs

The museum is very small and only features one apartment. It takes about 10 minutes to see the hole thing, so unless you really find these things interesting, I wouldn’t go. In it’s defense it is only 2-3,5 LVT

We digested all the impression in a small cafe, by sharing one of our favorite dishes.. a nice burger. We always try to share dishes to keep costs down, and most places portions are huge, so it works out well.

lunch break

Art Nouveau in Riga

40% of buildings in Riga are Art Nouveau, the highest density ind the world. Around 800 buildings in total. Most of them were build between 1905 – 1911. In those years Riga was at the peak of a huge financial boom, making it possible for people to build elaborate architecture.

Most famous of the Riga architects, was Mikhail Eisenstein (1867 – 1921). He was known and loved for his radical sculptures and colored bricks and tiles. One of his most iconic buildings is this blue beauty below.

famous art noveaux faces

The treasure hunt for faces was a way for us to bridge our very different interest and it worked, by the end of the day we had both seen enough faces:)

What do you think about the Riga faces? Have you seen them or planing to?

8 Comment

  1. We are planning to go next spring! Riga has been on our Bucket list for quite some time now, so it’s time so go!

    1. An Art Nouveau lover like you should definitely go to Riga, there is so much to see in a relatively small area:) Hope Riga makes it on your 2014 bucket list. A little tip, with both Balticair and norwegian you can find cheap tickets to Riga.

      1. We found Ryanair and Wizzair to be the cheapest airlines. They offer returnflights for around 70 euro’s!
        Will keep you posted!

        1. Wow that is cheap! Please do:)

          1. It’s on the schedule for March!

  2. What a great tip. I’ll keep it on the list for trips in future years. (have loved seeing Art Nouveau in Paris and in Belgium in years past and I have lots of old slides I wish I’d kept better notes with).

    1. I bet it’s possible to take a guided tour with an Art Nouveau expert around Riga, that would be interesting. I hope you go, if you enjoyed Paris you will like Riga too:)

  3. […] and learning new things (my favorite: seeing her photos of Art Nouveau buildings in Riga, see it here). And read her post on setting goals for the New Year […]

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