By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the most distinctive features when it comes to real estate in Rio is the amount of developed and expensive property that lies within the confines of the city’s beaches, and lowlands. In contrast, the spectacularly beautiful mountain hillsides brimming with lush, green vegetation are largely undisturbed save for the occasional favela creeping up the banks of the valleys. The result is that unless you live inside a favela, or go sightseeing from Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf), sweeping views from above are rarely found.
Naturally, living close to the beach has its perks, but neighborhoods with breathtaking views will always be in demand. At the top of the list for many buyers is Santa Teresa.
As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio, it emerged during the 18th Century as a sanctuary for residents fleeing the lower regions during a yellow fever epidemic. Its ongoing popularity stems from the fabulously quirky, colonial art deco architecture and panoramic views down the valley.
Built above the city, residents often feel cocooned in their own little haven, tucked away from the modern world and yet in an enviable position from which to watch it. Aline Mendes, one of Santa Teresa’s residents, firmly endorses the up-side: “[It is the] best view in Rio de Janeiro, because you can see the forest, the mountains, and the ocean. It really is incomparable.”
Most of the streets are paved with cobblestones lending the neighborhood a quaint, European feel. Caroline Rothmuller is a resident of Alto Leblon and says “It is calm, quiet, and I can hear a lot of birds singing, which is amazing in a city that’s often so noisy. Depending on the position of the building we are able to see a lot of trees and even the ocean.”
One of the many good things about Alto Leblon is that, being situated at a height, the temperature is about two or three degrees Celsius lower than elsewhere, a godsend in the oppressive summer heat. According to Carol: “Up here we can sleep without air conditioning during the winter and even in the spring and autumn.”
On the other side of Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), Botafogo is a district that also offers fantastic views from some of its hillside vantage points. The area grew out of a cluster of small farms situated in the valley leading down from Corcovado, between the hills of Mundo Novo, Santa Marta and Morro de São João .
Botafogo has since evolved into a middle to upper class community renowned for its good positioning in terms of the views of both Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar, two of the city’s most famous landmarks. Marcia Barroca recently moved to Botafogo and describes, “When I was house hunting, I was looking for the perfect view. From here I can see the statue of Christ the Redeemer straight ahead, and Sugarloaf to the side. I knew instantly I had found my home.”