But art nouveau wasn’t only relegated to the façades of the city’s buildings. The flowery style became a part of everyday life and was present in well-to-do homes in furniture, flatware and fashion and was commercially used in graphic design, most famously in advertisement posters. For a fascinating look at an art nouveau apartment where even the bathroom and kitchen are adorned with Jugendstil elements visit the Riga Art Nouveau Museum where the staff give tours dressed in period costume. The shop across the street sells excellent art nouveau gifts and souvenirs.
Essential art nouveau buildings
Nearly every building on this street is an art nouveau masterpiece and roughly half of them were designed by Mikhail Eisenstein including the buildings at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 13. The most stunning example is arguably the latter that boasts a massive woman’s face, a screaming woman, a satyr and large busts of crowned representations of lady liberty. The building at No.11 is a classic example of Latvian national romanticism designed by Eižens Laube in 1908, another prolific local architect of the age. You’ll also find a sphinx or two guarding entrances and windows shaped like old keyholes. The famous philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909 - 1997) lived at No.2 and a plaque commemorates this fact.
Punctuating the narrow space where Blaumaņa and Pērses streets meet at Barona, this classic art nouveau building designed by Karl Johann Felsko in 1903 looks like something only Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley could conceive. It’s covered in dragons, wolves and a variety of hideous gargoyles with gaping mouths – art nouveau’s dalliance in the macabre.
Elizabetes 10a & 10b
Two of Eisenstein’s most iconic buildings can be found next to one another at the corner of Elizabetes and Antonijas streets. The blue façade on the left with the incredibly long faces at the top is one of the most photographed buildings in the city and the one on the right is no less impressive with it’s oddly shaped windows and smiling sun face under the balcony. The building across the street at No.33 is also his creation.