Latvia

Riga art nouveau – a photo gallery

(Last Updated On: 13/05/2020)

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!


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Thank you! And now on to the post!


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 Riga 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!


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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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    11/12/2015 at 10:40

    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!

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 11:07

      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 :)

  • Reply
    Natalia Fraś
    11/12/2015 at 21:26

    Nie byłam, chociaż już dwa razy miałam w planie!

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      do 3 razy sztuka? :)

  • Reply
    Nick @ concrete and kitsch
    11/12/2015 at 22:44

    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!

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 12:13

      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!

  • Reply
    Megan
    11/12/2015 at 23:52

    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

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 12:18

      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!

  • Reply
    Hanging around in Asia
    12/12/2015 at 02:19

    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.

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 12:20

      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!

  • Reply
    Mirøslav Hristøff
    13/12/2015 at 07:20

    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.

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 12:23

      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

  • Reply
    Ewa
    13/12/2015 at 08:18

    I’ve got friend from Riga, and actually I don’t know why I didn’t visit him before… fantastic place!

    • Reply
      kami
      13/12/2015 at 12:23

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

  • Reply
    Darek Jedzok
    13/12/2015 at 07:31

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

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:53

      zdecydowanie polecam, fajnie tam! :)

  • Reply
    Anna Brusewicz
    13/12/2015 at 09:44

    Nie, ale planujemy :)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      słusznie :)

  • Reply
    Zygmunt Kuba
    13/12/2015 at 09:53

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

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:54

      tak ;)

  • Reply
    Magdalena Su
    13/12/2015 at 10:52

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

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:54

      glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Simon Pedro Viajero
    13/12/2015 at 11:33

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

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      Łódź już niedługo musi być!!

  • Reply
    Kanoklik
    13/12/2015 at 16:01

    Byłam w tym roku. Pięknie tam :)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      bardzo pięknie!

  • Reply
    Izabela Idzikowska
    13/12/2015 at 19:06

    No a mnie jakoś ta Ryga nie urzekła.

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      mnie przy pierwszych dwóch wizytach zupełnie nie. a teraz nagle wow!

  • Reply
    Barbara Sotowska
    13/12/2015 at 21:52

    Chętnie bym wróciła :)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      18/12/2015 at 20:55

      promocji dużo się trafia!!

  • Reply
    Tatiana
    15/12/2015 at 00:12

    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.

    • Reply
      kami
      19/12/2015 at 14:37

      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! :)

  • Reply
    Asia
    15/12/2015 at 09:22

    To w końcu dlaczego te twarze krzyczą?

    • Reply
      kami
      19/12/2015 at 14:41

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

  • Reply
    Mariusz
    15/12/2015 at 17:28

    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 :)

    • Reply
      kami
      19/12/2015 at 15:07

      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!

  • Reply
    Połącz Kropki
    15/12/2015 at 21:56

    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:)

    • Reply
      kami
      19/12/2015 at 15:09

      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!

  • Reply
    Połącz Kropki
    15/12/2015 at 21:59

    Ejjj, a street arty jakieś wyhaczyłaś?:> Nie wierze, ze nie;P

    • Reply
      kami
      19/12/2015 at 15:09

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

  • Reply
    Agnieszka /Zależna w podróży
    23/12/2015 at 20:36

    it reminds me a lot new part of Lviv.

    • Reply
      kami
      07/01/2016 at 22:27

      really? I wouldn’t say so…

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