Art Nouveau is my favorite era of art and architecture. I studied it a summer in Vienna during my college years (not to shabby for an engineering student huh?). Since then I love to look at the detail of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil in Germanic lands). When we were planning our walking tour of Heidelberg a few weeks ago, I noticed a listing for a Jugendstil Library and knew I had to see it.
Sometimes it is best to approach things like this from the side. To appreciate the beauty and care given to the sides and not just the grand front. Thankfully the approach we took led us alongside first. The building has spiky towers and is made of red sandstone. Even from this side the faces carved near the top and the sweeping lines are typical of what I know as Art Nouveau.
An Amazing Front
Of course the front is what we are looking for. I like this kind of architecture because it sets my mind going. I see Hogwarts in the tower and Paris in the faces. Everything reminds me of my times in Vienna.
One of the things that strikes me while we were standing there a few minutes to take pictures is that it is utilitarian. The building is an active library. Students parking bikes and walking back and forth cradling books, even on a Saturday. One of the great aspects of Art Nouveau was that nothing is beneath being decorated.
All in the Details
Everything about the period and the building is in the details. The tiny little things that you can easily overlook or are too far up to see. Everything had care taken and has little curly-cues or some other carving made to embellish the lines.
This attention to detail and details extends inside. I didn’t go further than the entryway and still found this level of detail. Griffons guarding the doors and even the doors intricately carved. There is something neat about walking through tall doors guarded by mythical statue creatures. It just feels grand.
Even though I don’t have pictures from further in, I know from experience that the interior is likely to be just as detailed as the exterior. From the ceilings to the staircases will be embellished.
Wonderful Example of Jugendstil
Paris and Vienna are quite well known for their Art Nouveau architecture. Prague as well, but Heidelberg not so much. This was cool to see such a great example of the high detail and in such good repair. Often the industrial smoke has settled on the buildings and in all the details. It was good to see, at least from the ground, that it was taken care of and clean.
I really like this period and seek it out where ever I go.