Like many European cities Riga is home to a varied collection of architectural and historical remnants mixed together to create beautiful and romantic neighbourhoods. Many of the city’s most ornate buildings come from the Art Nouveau era of the early 1900s. Riga was swept away by the influence of visionaries like Eizens Laube and Janis Fridrihs Baumanis, applying their principles to the streets of Alberta and Elizabetes. Today this area, to the north of the city centre, is a neighbourhood of contradiction. While a major tourist attraction, the area remains somewhat unloved and in need of renovations. Occupants vary from the more glamorous in the form of international embassies to the mundane, such a photo developers.
The buildings here tall and impressive, the detailing an ode to grand mythological symbols of the past such as sphinxes, mermaids and dragons. Colour facades use striking but mature shades; blues, reds and yellows dotted along the street in no set order. Scaffolding abounds indicating that in the next few years these buildings could be at the centre of Riga’s tourism industry.
Visiting the Art Nouveau Museum gives you a glimpse of the interior architecture of these buildings, including spiral staircases and never ending doorways.
The core of Riga’s Art Nouveau nieghbourhood is on Alberta and Elizabeth streets, illustrated on the map below.