Riga, Latvia has got to be one of my absolute favorite cities in the world! Reconstruction after WWII has brought most of “Old Riga” back to its former glory. It’s a fabulous city in which to walk, observe, learn, eat, visit, and absorb Latvian culture.
I was totally captivated by Riga’s architecture, in general, and the “Art Nouveau” district, in particular! If you love architecture like I do, you’ll love browsing through this gallery.
“Forty per cent of buildings in the centre of Riga belong to art nouveau, which is more than in other European cities. Moreover, art and architecture connoisseurs believe that it is in Riga that art nouveau found especially powerful and sweeping expression. In order to preserve Old Riga, Riga’s wooden buildings and the art nouveau architecture, the historical centre of Riga has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
“Latvia has a special relationship to art nouveau – just as the art nouveau worldview is closely linked with the rise of national consciousness in Scandinavia, and especially Finland. It was in the spirit of art nouveau that the first professional Latvian artists were first recognised and appreciated. The art nouveau gems of Riga were created at a time when Riga, as the western “periphery” of the Russian Empire, enjoyed an economic upswing: Riga was home to entrepreneurs and engineers, educated in St. Petersburg, Moscow and the European metropolises, who succeeded at attracting German, Russian and Jewish capital; also, hope- and ambition-filled artists had returned here from their studies. This enabled the boundless imagination of the architects Konstantīns Pēkšens and Wilhelm Bockslaff and the building engineer Mikhail Eisenstein (the father of the legendary film director Sergei Eisenstein): the facades of the buildings are overflowing with decorative elements; above the cornices one finds obelisks, sphinxes, lions, vases, flowers and everything else that characterises abundance and celebration of life.