Riga was built by German crusaders and early buildings and churches were put up in a Romanesque and Gothic styles which German craftsmen and Cistercian monks brought from Northern Germany.
By the end of the 15th century Riga had aquired a metropolitan style which was characteristic to all of the cities in the Medieval Hansiatic league. The city’s skyline of three Church steeples as it was known became a true visiting card to what was then the capital of Livonia.
Many call Riga -Â Europe’ sÂ capital ofÂ Â Art Nouveau. The most distinguished street is Alberta Street, which is laid exclusively with picturesque Art Nouveau buildings designed by such master architects as Mandelstahm, PÄkÅ¡Äns and Eisenstein, the latter an architect whose son went on to become the world famous film director Â - Sergei Eisenstein.
Alberta and Strelnieku Streets comprise the biggest gallery of Art Nouveau architecture in Riga. Many buildings have still not been renovated and you can still venture into the beautiful although neglected hallways. Of particular interest are freshly renovated buildings of the Stockholm School of Economics and Law, as well as the head office of the Latvian anti-corruption police KNAB.
People have occasionally called Riga little Paris while Napoleon once referred to it as a suburb of London. This may be because Napoleon never conquered London or Riga. Latvia’s capital put the torch to all of the wood buildings in its outlying areas in order to prepare for Napoleonic attack. In fact this laid the groundwork for a new phase in Rigensian architecture. The wood buildings gave way to the stone structures which form the present face of the city.