I admit that I’m a huge fan of architecture and I treat it as a kind of art, and the cities I visited are the open-air museums for me. The more picturesque and beautifully designed are they, the better. For this reason, I’ve always wanted to go to the capital of Latvia, Riga, which is one of the few cities in Europe, bringing together the highest number of monuments in the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau is one of the Modernist styles. It has been popular in Europe since the 80s of 19th century to the 20s of 20th century, especially in the years 1890-1910. It’s aim is to search for new, fresh forms that will stand out from the age of eclectic historic revival styles and to allow architects and designers greater freedom and creativity. Typical features of Art Nouveau is a wavy lines, asymmetry (though I haven’t noticed this in Riga), rich and abstract details, ornaments of plants and animals, as well as faces and characters. The style is manifested in all its details, for example the railings of balconies and stairs, and even the door handles.
As I said, I love architecture, although Art Nouveau is not my favorite style. However, I have to admit honestly that it is really picturesque and interesting form. I was really interested in it and watched all the details carefully, which in some cases require more time, because Art Nouveau buildings tend to be really richly decorated.
The highest number of Art Nouveau buildings in Riga is on Albert’s street (Alberta iela) and Elizabeth’s street (Elizabetes iela), as well as several individual buildings are in the old town (most of which is Gothic). These are some of the best examples of Art Nouveau, but in whole city more than 700 buildings refer to this style.
In 1999 Réseau Art Nouveau Network was founded, which is a network of cities that boast of the largest number of Art Nouveau monuments and together care about them and popularise them. There are 23 cities in the Network (apart from Riga) including for example Barcelona, Vienna, Glasgow, Budapest, Tbilisi and Havana.
Are you interested in architecture during your urban travels? What do you think about Riga’s Art Nouveau? You’ve been to Riga or some other city known of Art Nouveau style?