Best European Cities for Art Nouveau Architecture

by Jules on March 27, 2013

Art Nouveau was one of the most popular styles of art, architecture and design at the turn of the 20th century in Europe. It was seen everywhere from the lavish dance halls of Paris to the streets of Moscow. The name ‘Art Nouveau’ itself derives from the French meaning of “New Art.” The name aptly describes the movement as it challenged older aesthetics with free flowing figures surrounded by pastoral scenes. Art Nouveau took the world by storm thanks to its fresh perspective of modern art and design.

If European architecture and history are your thing, why not join an organised socialist tour to truly understand how the Art Nouveau movement affected the European continent. Each country was able to take the basics of the style and make it its own. Various forward-thinking cities and regions were able to take the art movement one step further by totally customising it. Art Nouveau was a break from the neo-classical style that had been popular for centuries and it was one of the first true breaks for the modern aesthetic of art and design. Art Nouveau is very distinct in its subjects and lines and thanks to its popularity it continues to be present in these countries around the world.

Art Nouveau Architecture in France

The name Art Nouveau derives from the French meaning of “New Art.” If you are a fan of this art movement, then you must go to its epicentre – Paris. The City of Lights is full of Art Nouveau influence left over from the early late 19th century. For example, just take a look at the famed Parisian metro signs. Their classic green script is an emblem of Art Nouveau style. If you want to get up close to Art Nouveau design, then head to the Musee d’Orsay for prints, sculptures, and interiors that reflect the era. However, you can just wander the city to get a taste of classic Art Nouveau styles. The best place to do this is by the Bon Marche and the Hotel Lutece in the 6th and 7th arrondissements.

The South of France was also one of the most popular places for the Art Nouveau style. Old posters and postcards of the era reflect the natural beauty of the landscapes. Cannes in particular has many buildings reminiscent of the style.

Italian Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau was also very prominent in the Italian cities of Milan, San Pellegrino Terme, Naples, and in some regions around Lake Como. While it is not evident at first, one can easily find examples all over these cities. The Italians refer to Art Nouveau as ‘stile Liberty‘ due to its free flowing architecture and lines. One of the best known Art Nouveau buildings in Italy is found in Trieste. Its Palace Barburizza or fine art museum is one of the best examples of the architecture style in the country. The Palazzo Castiglioni in Milan in northern Italy is another fine example of art nouveau architecture. The palace was built in 1901 and is pictured above. Rome is also host to some Art Nouveau collections.

Jugendstil architecture in Riga in Latvia

Riga in Latvia has one of the best examples of the German style Art Nouveau architecture, called Jugendstil (youth style), in the whole of Europe. In fact, it is even said to have the best collection of said Art Nouveau buildings in Europe by World Heritage Foundation. If you really want to see a large variety of German Art Nouveau (the best selection outside Germany itself) then visit downtown Riga for the best selection.

The Outskirts of Europe

The movement was also very influential in Russia as both St. Petersburg and Moscow have Art Nouveau buildings. You will find the Mindovsky House and the Novaya Opera Theatre in Moscow are prime examples of Art Nouveau reaching beyond the technical borders of Europe.

German Traditional Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau in Germany is a little different from traditional works of this period. It has sharper lines that create a crisper image when compared to the softer Art Nouveau drawings found in Italy or Spain. Munich’s Schwabig village is the best known area of Art Nouveau architecture in Bavaria. Berlin also has a few buildings that are reminiscent of the time period, but not as much as Munich. One of the best places to see the Art Nouveau influence in Germany is in a little town outside of Frankfurt called Darmstadt. There was once an artist’s colony that drew heavy inspiration from the art movement of its time. All of the buildings in this artist colony reflect Art Nouveau with a distinct German feel.

Spain Takes it All

Spain is probably the best place to go authentic Art Nouveau and in particular, Barcelona. This city is in homage to the works and love of Antoni Gaudi, the man who designed the Sagrada Famiglia, the Parc Guell and the Battle House. Each of these structures are incredible, and a must see for anyone who loves architecture. Of course, these are his more famous works, but the city is sprinkled with his influence. If you love colorful and whimsical architecture, then you must visit Barcelona because you will not see this anywhere else in the world.

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