More Buildings, Another Tale


Balconies in art nouveau style

Last week I wrote about buildings in Old Town Riga with different histories. This week I'll take you on a tour of a newer section of the city and explain Riga's Art Nouveau architecture.

Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil in the German language, was a style of architecture that was very prominent for only 20 years from about 1895 to 1914. Since Riga was expanding at that time, it has gained a reputation for Art Nouveau style. Over one third of Riga's buildings were built during this short period of time. 

Art Nouveau is most easily spotted by the extra flourishes added to the outside of the buildings. Often they include figures, animals, plants or faces from Greek mythology.

Ornamentation on building


Nature was very important to the era of Art Nouveau. All buildings have some aspect of nature in their edifices. An owl can be seen perched on top of the door in the picture below. 

Owl decoration

From Albert Street
This form of architecture can be seen on most of the buildings on Albert Street in Town Center. Most of these pictures were taken while on that street. 

Notice the differences in the decorations from the first floor to the top. The architects made the ornamentation different on each floor. It was important to be unique in the design of the building, adding to the its beauty. 

I think the best example of Art Nouveau is on the building pictured below. There are two figures on the top of this five story building surrounding a peacock with his wings spread out. It's amazing that these can be carved onto a apartment building. 

Notice the peacock in the middle

The beauty isn't contained only on the outside of the buildings. The same ornamentation was added to the inside rooms as we saw in the Riga Jugendstil Museum. This home was built by the architect K. Peksens in 1897. We were able to tour the museum to observe this style on the inside. 

Flowers ornament the walls

Decorated ceiling
The ornamentation was visible on the walls and ceilings as can be seen on the left. The nature theme of flowers covered both places. 

The nature theme was visible in the dining room as well.  The green color with grass and flowers in the window show this. There the style was demonstrated in the stained glass windows. Only the rich could afford these homes when they were built.

Dining room window

Wood hutch ornamented also

Winding staircase
Of course, the owner wasn't the only one who lived in these large fancy houses. The upper floors were constructed as rental units to bring in money to pay for the building. But even the staircases were built in the fancy style. This winding staircase goes all the way to the fifth floor with the ceiling decorated. 

This is one of the famous Riga photographic scenes for the city. I'm glad that I was able to be in the right spot to take the picture.  It was pretty amazing. I'm just glad we didn't have to climb the circular staircase. 



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