kami

Can't live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

Riga art nouveau – a photo gallery

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I’ve never been a big fan of Riga, Latvia. I just never really felt this city. I could easily spend few days in Vilnius or Tallinn without being bored but it was a different story with Riga. But I’ve decided to give the city another chance and guess what – I loved it! This time I focused on just about every other place but the Old Town and it was the key to enjoying the capital of Latvia. And everywhere I went I could admire the incredible architecture built in Riga art nouveau style! I was literally falling for every second building, they were just too beautiful! Funny how our (travel) interests change – I hadn’t paid that much attention to art nouveau during my previous visits, this time however it was the highlight of my stay in Riga!



The short history of art nouveau

The art nouveau style took over (mostly) European architecture and decorative arts at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a perfect transition between the revival style (such as Neoclassicism) and Modernism (another style among my favorites, by the way) and the main aim in creating this style was for buildings/art/jewelry to be just esthetic, without any historical influences. Art nouveau architecture’s most distinctive features include rich ornaments (especially floral patterns), kind of abstract style and sleek and curvy lines. Most famous art nouveau buildings can be found in Barcelona (Gaudi’s works), Berlin (Hackesche Höfe) or Subotica – a small Serbian city that looks like from a fairy tale!

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau


The overview of Riga art nouveau

Can you imagine that there’re over 800 art nouveau buildings in Riga, 40% of the center is build in this style? That’s pretty incredible, if you ask me. I don’t think there’s any other city that have such a huge densification of art nouveau architecture in such a little space. This and an extreme beauty of the buildings were the reasons why the center of Riga have been designated an UNESCO World Heritage List. It might be surprising that the capital of Latvia is simply overload with this style but the explanation is easy. The era of art nouveau blooming happened at the peak of the financial prosperity of Riga and rich inhabitants needed to show off their wealth. What’s significant about Riga art nouveau is that the majority of buildings were designed by local architects. The most famous one – Mikhail Eisenstein – was the precursor of introducing mythological and human ornaments. It was also his way to deal with the difficult relationship he had with his wife therefore he tried to make the buildings look like they’re crying and most of the faces seen on the facades are screaming. He was considered an eccentric but soon his work became really pricey and even now a flat in the building designed by Eisenstein is among the most expensive ones in Riga!

Riga art nouveau


Where to look for Riga art nouveau

Riga is one of those cities when it’s worth looking up as true gems can be seen there. The majority of art nouveau buildings can be found just outside the Old Town, still in the center of the city. In the so-called Quiet Center, especially on Alberta Iela and Elizabetes Iela, every second building takes your breath away. The richness of ornaments is just outstanding and you simply don’t know where to look! But everywhere I went I stumble across some interesting examples of art nouveau and what I found the most fascinating is how the buildings showed the various interpretations of the same style. I actually preferred more raw ornaments that could be found closer to the train station but I honestly eulogizing over every single building I’ve seen!

At the tourist info point at the airport I found a really good map of Riga that showed the most important art nouveau buildings – you should look for it too. Also this and this website can give you some addresses and more info about Riga art nouveau!

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau


Riga art nouveau – photo gallery

When I was wandering around the streets of Riga I could easily picture myself living in one of the stunning buildings. They made the city look so unique and different than any other capital I’ve visited. That actually could have been the reason why I finally felt for Riga and enjoyed my stay there so much. Here’s a little photo gallery for you to see what I’m talking about!

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Riga art nouveau

Do you also like art nouveau architecture? Where else have you seen it? Would you like to visit Riga?


In Riga I stayed in Hotel Skanste and while the place itself was ok the service was really terrible and for that reason I’d suggest avoiding it (they tried to overcharge me and Booking had to get involved – kudos for their customer service). However there’re many other accommodation options in Riga, you can book a place for yourself here!


Are you planning a trip to Eastern Europe? Do you like that region as much as I do? I’ve created a Facebook group where you can look for advise or inspiration and share your travel stories and pictures from Eastern Europe and beyond. Join now!


I haven’t written all that much about Latvia yet but you might be interested in other destinations I’ve covered on this blog. If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you.


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10 Gru '15

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There are 42 Comments.

  1. I’m so happy you gave Riga another chance! I’ve lived in the city for a year and a half and absolutely love it! The architecture is unique and beautiful, yes, but I’ve been most impressed with the number of high quality museums and culture events here. I don’t think I could ever get bored!
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun latest post…Winter Packing Tips for People Who Hate to Be ColdMy Profile

    • kami
      11:07 13/12/2015

      I’m really glad I went there again as this time I’ve looked at Riga from a completely new perspective and loved the city big time. I can imagine how great it must be to live there, it seemed like the city with a lot of things going on. Actually I wouldn’t mind returning there at some point :)

  2. Nie byłam, chociaż już dwa razy miałam w planie!

  3. I loved Riga – I think it’s the Baltic capital I could most see myself living in. It was pouring rain and thundering when we walked through the art nouveau district, but still so moody and beautiful.

    I’m so excited to visit Subotica this month – your blog was one of the first places I ever read about it!
    Nick @ concrete and kitsch latest post…Road Trip! Bulgarian Roadside Commie KitschMy Profile

    • kami
      12:13 13/12/2015

      Now I think I could live in Riga as well, funny how 4 and 8 years ago I was interested in completely different things and couldn’t see how awesome Riga is! Better late than never :D
      I hope you will enjoy Subotica as much as I did! It’s a quiet town but the architecture is just stunning!

  4. Ahhhh Riga. One of my favorite cities. I have to be honest when I say Riga and I only work beyond all of these districts (although I love Miera Iela!) as I take the trams far out to where no one visits) but I think the city is just stunning from any angle. Glad you finally fell for it. Maybe we can hold a reunion in these parts!? I’d say it’s long overdue <3
    Megan latest post…A Pit-Stop at Bahia Honda State ParkMy Profile

    • kami
      12:18 13/12/2015

      Before I mostly hang out in the old town and that could be the reason why I hated the city so much. This time I mostly stayed outside and I loved Riga, and visiting some random areas was the best!
      and yes! I’m definitely up for the reunion! It’s been 1.5 year I guess!! way too long!

  5. I love the begging of this article! Could easily write the same (almost;) I’ve been to Riga once and did not like it. Perhaps because it was the mid of February so I didn’t feel like walking the streets freezing to death ;) But having read your article maybe I’ll give it another try.
    Hanging around in Asia latest post…Ipoh street art walkMy Profile

    • kami
      12:20 13/12/2015

      You definitely should revisit it, Riga turned out to be a really cool city! This time I was there in mid September and that seemed like a perfect time to visit! Definitely recommended!

  6. Thank you for the information about art nouveau! It’s the same old story – sad love reproduced through someone’s art. Riga looks like just my kind of city. I’m not so sure, but I think there are some buildings in Plovdiv, Bulgaria designed in the same way.
    Mirøslav Hristøff latest post…Project ‚It`s just a cigarette’ #6 – AzimeMy Profile

    • kami
      12:23 13/12/2015

      Hope you will visit Riga one day, it’s definitely interesting! I have to google Plovdiv! I was there almost 4 years ago and I only remember the beautiful old houses but I don’t think they were art nouveau though kind of similar

  7. 08:18 13/12/2015

    I’ve got friend from Riga, and actually I don’t know why I didn’t visit him before… fantastic place!
    Ewa latest post…Urlop w Tajlandii | Jak się przygotować i co zabrać?My Profile

    • kami
      12:23 13/12/2015

      You should change that as soon as you’re back in Poland! I think you’d enjoy Riga!

  8. Secesja zawsze na propsie! Kolejny powód, aby w końcu ruszyć zady i wybrać się w tym roku na wschód :)

  9. Nie, ale planujemy :)

  10. O matko jedyna! Czyżbym miałbym te piękności podziwiać przez cały miesiąc w maju? Jeśli tam pojadę to będzie bosko :)

  11. Wow, very nice, informative post. It was nice to refresh art knowledge from high school :)

  12. of course! :) secesja Ryga i Łódź! :)

  13. Byłam w tym roku. Pięknie tam :)

  14. No a mnie jakoś ta Ryga nie urzekła.

  15. Chętnie bym wróciła :)

  16. And I fell in love with Riga from the first sight. Though I didn’t stay long to get to know the city, but a couple of times with long walks, sitting in cafes and crossing streets gave me the picture. Now I would like to come back in summer – to see green, sunny smiley Riga.
    p.s. I am not an amateur of architecture styles. I love just to get impression from the city and learn more – about history.
    Tatiana latest post…Kraków na wyrywki: Kamieniołom LibanMy Profile

    • kami
      14:37 19/12/2015

      You definitely should spend at least a weekend there, it’s so lovely! Too bad it took me that much time to fully appreciate Riga! You can find really cheap flights from Warsaw every now and then so you should definitely go for it! :)

  17. Asia
    09:22 15/12/2015

    To w końcu dlaczego te twarze krzyczą?

    • kami
      14:41 19/12/2015

      niemy krzyk, pan nie ogarniał swojego związku z żoną i szukał ujścia emocji

  18. Mariusz
    17:28 15/12/2015

    No i w tym momencie mnie masz – żałuję, że w Rydze ograniczyliśmy się tylko do murów starówki :/
    Ale żeby zobaczyć nuwo sruwo nie trzeba przecież aż do Rygi. W Płocku była? Jeśli nie, to powinna – największe zbiory secesji w Polsce. Highly rekomenduję :)

    • kami
      15:07 19/12/2015

      ja się dwa razy tak na Rygę dałam złapać, to i miłości nie było. Ale teraz jak już na spokojnie pooglądałam to miasto naprawde daje rade!
      W Płocku była, ale jakoś takich piękności nie pamięta! Musi wrócić, co i tak ma w planach, bo i podobno street arcik tam niczego sobie!

  19. Ciekawie napisany post. Upewniłam się, że chcę zobaczyć to miasto. Podobno na Łotwie kompletnie nic nie ma, a Ryga jest taką perełką. Im więcej nietypowych miejsc, tym ciekawsze zwiedzanie:)

    • kami
      15:09 19/12/2015

      Jurmala też jest spoko, pół godzinki pociągiem od Rygi. Ale poza tym to chyba Łotwa do najatrakcyjniejszych państw nie należy ;) ale Ryga daje radę, jedź koniecznie!

  20. Ejjj, a street arty jakieś wyhaczyłaś?:> Nie wierze, ze nie;P
    Połącz Kropki latest post…La Tabacalera – dawna fabryka tytoniu i aktualne centrum artystyczneMy Profile

    • kami
      15:09 19/12/2015

      coś tam było, ale ogólnie raczej bida streetartowo! Za to Wilno daje radę pod tym względem!

  21. it reminds me a lot new part of Lviv.

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