By Bryan Gregory Sanders, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Baixo Gávea is an affluent and once bohemian Zona Sul (South Zone) neighborhood that rests neatly at the bottom of Gávea, bordering Jardim Botanico, Leblon and the Tijuca National Forest. The beautifully tree lined streets, spacious Santos Dumont Plaza, and proximity to great schools, nightlife and strong cultural history put it high upon the list of places to live.
According to Heitor Trengrouse, owner of Tracks record shop in Baixo Gávea, “Baixo Gávea in the 80’s became an alternative to the [...] scene of Baixo Leblon” where Mondays saw the entire plaza filled with intellectual types that were much “cooler” and relaxed.
Its cultural significance as a meeting place for intellectuals ensured that many of those artists never left. Today, Gávea and Baixo Gávea remain home to many of Rio’s most talented and famous playwrights, artists, authors, actors and filmmakers.
The neighborhood is anchored by the Santos Dumont Plaza known locally as “Praça do Jockey” where there is a large fenced-in playground and an excellent weekly Friday morning farmer’s market filled with the freshest fruits, veggies, seeds, and meat.
The plaza boasts the SESC Rio Casa Da Gávea Theater, the only SESC space of its kind in Zona Sul – where independent plays are put on five times per week. Typically the price is less than R$40 a ticket – with half price discounts for SESC members, seniors, and students.
Around the corner in the cozy Gávea Shopping (shopping mall), a movie theater and four more theatrical stages put on some of Rio’s best work. Additionally, on Sundays there is a weekly antique market where patrons can see relics from old Brazil and Europe.
Directly across the Santos Dumont Plaza and Rua Jardim Botânico is the legendary race track Hipódromo da Gávea or more often called- “jockey”, which since its completion in 1926, has served as a cultural center known famously for its races (Friday to Monday evenings) and polo, and recently for its culinary events and live shows.
The plaza hosts a strong night life where young and older more affluent residents, theater types, and PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica) students merge onto Praça Santos Dumont to drink, eat linguiça (sausage) and picanha (rump steak), and socialize late into the night.
Pedro Padilha agrees stating that, “it’s a nice open space to drink and meet friends and also new people. I love the idea of being in the street – and people in Rio seem to like it a lot as well … Thursdays the place gets completely full of people. [It] has been like that for years.”
Local native Liana Nigri Moszkowicz describes the intersection as a place where young PUC college crowd meet up with their friends after class “At night you see more bohemian people, from university youth to the old friends who have gone there every week for ages.”
Due to the popularity of the area, proximity to PUC, and the large amount of talented people who call the neighborhood home – housing here is limited and if it is found, it can be quite expensive.
Prices have shot up drastically just since last year, where two bedrooms now start at R$800,000, while three bedrooms range from R$1,120,000 all the way to R$2,500,000 million depending on size and location. One bedrooms are harder to find and also start at R$800,000. Rentals fall anywhere between R$2,800 and R$9,000 for two and three bedrooms again depending on size, location, and condition of the apartment.