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Source Full article / Jon BryantArt nouveau was the curvilinear, nature-inspired style that dominated everything from jewellery to architecture at the start of the 20th century. As it spread throughout Europe and across the Atlantic it followed two main strands: the curvy, whiplash decoration that flowed out of Paris-Brussels and the more linear, geometric style seen in Vienna and Glasgow. East European centres such as Prague, Riga and Budapest merged art nouveau with their own local traditions and the outstanding buildings of the era are found in those cities. By 1915, the craze for art nouveau had been crushed by the advent of the first world war and the arrival of a new style, art deco.
Over the last 100 years the demolition of art nouveau structures has been ruthless. French architect Hector Guimard’s innovative Parisian concert hall was pulled down as early as 1905 and only three of his roofed entrances to the Paris metro remain. While Barcelona, Vienna, Munich and Subotica claim stunning yet isolated art nouveau buildings, other cities have managed to preserve the style as part of their dominant architectural heritage.
Halfway between Porto and Coimbra, Aveiro is a floating city full of art nouveau treasures. Aveiro’s economy still comes from seaweed, salt and ceramics, and it was the revenue from these, plus the wealth of returning emigrants who had grown rich in Brazil at the end of the 19th century, that led to requests for extravagant new residences. Take a tour on one of the gondola-style moliceiros to the Rossio district; try the local ovos moles delicacies in one of the bars where Aveiro’s particular style of arte nova includes pale-shaded tiles, ironwork balconies and floral mouldings. The Museu de Arte Nova is in the Casa Major Pessoa on Rua Dr Barbosa Magalhães and its first-floor tearoom, the Casa de Chá, turns into a cocktail lounge serving caipirinhas in the evening – its floral designs and tiled birdlife motifs masked by mood lighting after dark.