Riga is one of the oldest cities in Baltic States, understandably, old architectural buildings dates as old as the 13th century. Be mesmerized with picturesque and exquisite designs of one of a kind building in the city.
The architectural and artistic answer to the literary Modernist movement that began in the late 19th century was the Art Nouveau movement in Europe. Unlike the stiffer sensibilities of Victorian style, Art Nouveau stressed a complete creative freedom, mixing fantastic elements with a tendency to show all utilitarian construction elements as artistic value, with very characteristic elements such as dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines and geometrical ornaments. In Riga, Art Nouveau could be split into two main directions, decorative and romantic-nationalistic Art Nouveau.
Riga is one of the largest centres of Art Nouveau, with more than a third of the buildings of its Central District built in the style; other significant centers include Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Krakow, and Moscow and St. Petersburg, among others. The main street for Riga’s Art Nouveau district is Elizabetes, which intersects Brivibas Boulevard. In addition to Elizabetes Street, Alberta and Strelnieku Streets also feature impressive examples of the style. In total, there are over 800 Art Nouveau buildings in Riga, but finding them all would be quite an ambitious undertaking. So here are some of them:
The Freedom Monument, affectionately called Milda by locals dates from 1935. It’s a national shrine for Latvians in memory of people who were deported to Siberia in Soviet times. Milda is the symbol of the freedom of Latvian people and the three stars in the maiden’s hands represent the three historical regions of the country: Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale.
Great and Small Guild Halls: Both buildings dating back to the 14th century; it was the home of the merchants and the city’s artisans. Today the Great Guild hosts the Philharmonic Orchestra (the Small Guild is now a youth disco).
The Cat House: the story goes that 100 years ago, the Latvian owner of the building was “not welcomed” into the the powerful Great Guild across the road. To be insulting to his enemies, he ordered the cats to be turned around, … backside up… A lengthy court battle ensued, “the cats” were eventually turned around and he was admitted to the Guild.
The Old City Walls and the Swedish Gate: This is the oldest remaining portion of the Old Town “fort type” walls. The Swedish Gate dates back to 1698 to celebrate the Scandinavians’ occupation while the walls were built between the 13th and 16th centuries. Including to these Old town fortifications, The Powder Tower
The Academy of Sciences: Building built by the Soviets, the local nicknames for this “Empire State Building” copy includes “Stalin’s birthday cake” or “the Kremlin”.
These majestic designs of architecture in Riga will bring a whole lot new meaning to your visit.