The place where the city originated is the confluence of the river Daugava with its tributary, the Rīdzene. At the beginning of the XIII century, Bishop Albert, the founder of Riga, started to build a fortified settlement on this peninsula.
New master of Riga — the Kingdom of Sweden and later The Russian Empire perceived the city as a strategic facility and thus developed fortifications, which held back the development and expansion of Riga
as a city for centuries.
Due to changes in war tactics and weapons, such fortifications gradually lost their defensive value and they could be dismantled. In 1856, the architect Johann Daniel Felsko and engineer Otto Dietze designed a new city development plan, which noticeably determined the street layout of Riga’s centre.
|Thanks to its geo-
graphical position, Riga has been known as one of the most important western centers of trade, finance and culture.
By the beginning of the XX century, Riga had become the third largest industrial centre in the Russian Empire, after Saint Petersburg and Moscow. That caused an increase in its population, and consequently, a large-scale housing development. On 18 November 1918 in Riga, the independence of Latvia was declared, and the city became the capital of the newly formed Republic of Latvia.
Karl Johann Felsko is a master of Eclecticism — a style that largely determined the look and atmo-
sphere of Riga at the turn of the century. Over a hundred buildings were built in Riga by his projects, many of which became significant architectural pieces of the time. Karl Johann Felsko was born on 18 May 1844 in Riga, into the family of the Riga Chief Architect, Johann Daniel Felsko. He received his architectural education at the Siegen School of Architecture and the Berlin Academy of Architec-
ture. The most outstanding works of Karl Felsko, in which his maste-
ry reached its peak, were the buil-
dings of the late Eclecticism created during the 1880's–1900's.
August Franz Leberecht Volz has created many artworks which became an integral part of Riga’s image. The talent of Volz allowed his workshop to be the leading sculpture firm in Riga for about half a century. August Franz Leberecht Volz was born in 1851 in Magdeburg. From 1869 to 1871, he studied at the Berlin Academy of Arts. After graduation, he devoted himself to decorative sculpture. He arrived in Riga in 1875. A year later, he founded a workshop where decorative elements for buildings, art for monuments, and small sculptures were produced.
Felsko and Volz were more than satisfied with the outcome of their work. In 1903, the attention of the famous magazine at that time “Rigascher Almanach” was also attracted by the rich decorative elements of the building.
In addition, the magazine described in detail the building’s front garden with beautiful bushes of roses greatly admired by passers-by through the wrought iron fence. At that time, only a few homeowners of Riga could impress with such a luxury.
The purpose of the project was to restore the facade, main staircase and main entrance to its original, historical appearance. Almost all the details of facade survived, which simplified the restoration work.
|Elizabetes Street is the location of:
the embassies of Austria, Greece, Israel, Spain, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Finland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Institute of Inter-
national Relations of Latvia, as well as the World Trade Centre, central offices of banks and many other significant institutions.
The house is an example of late Eclecticism with tremendous external decoration. A bright and rich facade, which reveals the aesthetics of Renaissance, also presents elements inherent in Baroque, Empire and even Art Nouveau. A variety of architectural elements were used in the design of the facade, such as pediments, columns and turrets.
The decor of the pilasters and their capitals, balcony railings and turret finials show significant influence from Baroque. Despite the use of elements of different styles, the building has beautiful proportions. The two-toned facade enhances the expressiveness of the sculptures.