We have to admit that until researching for this article, we would have imagined that the capital of Art Nouveau would be Brussels, Barcelona or Paris; or the city of Riga never even crossed our minds.
Well, Art Nouveau architecture in Riga makes up roughly one-third of all buildings in the city center, making the Latvian capital the city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world.
The reason why Riga has the finest and the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world is the fact that, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when the style was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom. In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 to 558,000, making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire and an important sea port.
Stylistically, the Art Nouveau architecture of Riga is often divided into four main categories: Eclectic or Decorative; Perpendicular or Vertical; National Romantic and lastly Neo-Classical.