By Nicole Pelligrino, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – As an extremely large yet tightly-knit, mostly middle-class enclave, Tijuca has everything one could ask for in a Carioca neighborhood. It has an interesting history with architecture both reminiscent of Rio’s past and indicative of the city’s future.
The name Tijuca comes from the Tupi language, meaning “marsh.” It is separated into four districts: Saens Peña Square, Afonso Peña Square, Usina and Muda. It serves as the home base to some of Rio’s most famous Samba schools, has great shopping, great food and charmingly low-key bars, housing prices that match the pocketbooks of nearly every socioeconomic class, and ample public transportation. Tijuca also lies within arms reach of Maracaná Stadium, and sits adjacent to the world’s largest urban forest, Floresta da Tijuca.
For shopping, stroll down to Praça Saens Peña, and the Metrô station in the square is surrounded by vendors. Independently-owned clothing stores line Rua Conde de Bonfim. Bustling crowds flood the streets in search of bargains, especially on weekends. The popular and fairly upscale Shopping Tijuca is only a stone’s throw away, for those seeking to escape the Rio sun and bask in the dark coolness of the mall. Don’t forget to check out the open-air market Saturday mornings on Rua das Artistas, for fresh fish, fresh flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Tijuca’s nightlife is a decidedly more relaxed version of Zona Sul’s. What it lacks in hip clubs it makes up for in a tranquil vibe. Praça Varnhagem (typically just called “Buxixo” by Tijucanos, after the bar/restaurant of the same name that sits on the square) holds several popular area pubs, including Garota da Tijuca. Always packed on the weekends, the square is even more packed after football games at Maracaná. On Friday nights, Tijucanos gather around the churrascino stands at Praça Saens Peña to drink, eat and listen to Pagode.
Tijuca is also home to some of the most world-renowned Escolas da Samba (Samba Schools) including Salgueiro, Unidos da Tijuca, and Império da Tijuca. Together these schools hold nine championship titles.
Home prices in Tijuca range from reasonably affordable to relatively expensive. The Usina and Muda areas of Tijuca contain some exceptionally chic streets. Ruas Alto Leblon, Alto Uruguai, and Andrade Neves remain some of the priciest in the neighborhood, but the properties are beautiful and spacious with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. The streets are quiet, safe and lush. Properties on these streets run from the high R$400,000’s to well over R$1,500,000, and home ownership is very common in Tijuca, especially for the more expensive areas.
Rentals are easy to find for those of more modest means. A one bedroom will run between R$400 to $800, larger units go for up to R$2000. Condominium prices on the less-chic, but still attractive streets will run from the low R$100,0000′s to the mid R$300,000′s, many still with views, and proximity to transit, shopping and nightlife. Tijuca truly has something for everyone. What more could one ask for?
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