Swaying and rustling of stepping feet in skirts that softly touch the floor. The delicate fragrance of fresh flowers upon pastel coloured hats. The faint sound of music played by an old Gramophone. The moment you open the door and enter the Riga Art Nouveau Museum, is being teleported to the year 1903. Floral patterns on the authentic wallpaper, leaded glass windows in an abundant amount of colours. Elegant chairs and embroided tablecloths. Geometrical forms and ancient gods. Even chamber maids swiping off the book shelves, complete with white apron and cap fixed on top of the head.
I wish I didn’t fuck up my pictures. Sometimes, when traveling, I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing. I’m so busy exploring, exhaling impressions, looking around and trying to shoot pictures that I forget to check if my camera settings are correct. After my trip to the Art Nouveau Museum I learned the hard way to A-L-W-A-Y-S check my camera settings. Yes, half my pictures ended up being black. Bummer. No, I didn’t know how I did it. Yes, I could save a few. Anyhow, lesson learned and an extra reason to pay another visit to Riga, so I could finally share some decent footage.
Even though my pictures suck, the buildings don’t. In fact, each and every one of them are architectural pearls, remnants of a past where the aiming for beauty predominated. Throughout the different areas of the city you can spot those delicious leftovers – okay, I’m thinking about food at the moment, can I? – of the beginning of the 20th century. Especially the area around Alberta iela – Alberta street –, a boulevard packed with beauties from the 1900s, is worth the walk. A little bit outside the city centre and far away from the normal hustle and bustle in the capital, shooting pretty pictures of architectural pearls will be a pleasure. Not too many shops or restaurants, just a residential area with a couple of embassies – yes, those buildings must cost a fortune which normal people couldn’t afford in a gazillion years – and of course the Riga Art Nouveau Museum. The Museum used to be the private house of the most prominent Latvian architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns and state of the art for its time, since the inhabitants could already warm themselves by using the central heating system or take a warm bath thanks to hot water supply in the apartments. Don’t forget to admire the spiral staircase, it is just magnificent. Only magnificent. And a little bit stunning too. My absolute favorite – the Museum for the inside of course – on the outside is located on the Elizabetes iela 10b. Masks. Peacocks. Sculpted heads. Geometric shapes. Blue glazed bricks. All arised from the lively imagination of Mikhail Eisenstein, the Russian architect whose name decorates several properties throughout the whole city.
While the architecture at the Alberta iela area has the most extravagant ornamentation and the brightest colours, it’s also worth the effort to try and look for examples in the old city centre. One of the most remarkable buildings is where you can find Passerella Cafe. No idea if the coffee tastes good, but the beaming sun above the entrance and simplified flowers on the side makes you curious to take a look inside. My best advise is, again, just walk around in Riga. Look up. Study those difficult geometrical shapes and well-proportioned sculptures. Take pictures. Sketch. Or just admire and smile.