Riga is one of the largest centers Art Noveau. Riga’s collection of art noveau buildings is recognized by Unesco as unparalleled anywhere in the world, according to the book Eyewitness Travel.

I didn’t really know that when I was there. I could hardly distinguish baroque from neo-classical. Art deco from art noveau. But as I always say and even wrote in a summer chronicle for the newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning – I am never ashamed of my ignorance. Ignorance is but natural. But what you do with it is what’s important.

So I read more about art noveau. Not that I am an expert now, oh no, far from it. But at least I appreciate Riga more – knowing that it is one of the most important art noveau cities – with a third of its buildings in the central district built in this style, which Latvians call Jugendstil. There are over 800 art noveau buildings in Riga.

So what are the other art noveau centers? According to a blog focusing on local life in Riga, these are Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Krakow, Moscow, St Petersburg…

Art noveau architecture is Riga’s claim to fame. And to be more exact, the architecture there is categorized as eclectic art noveau with two styles: perpendicular (places emphasis on vertical composition) and national romanticism (with folk motifs and use of natural materials).