Catete: Emerging From the Shadows

By Doug Gray, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When it comes to naming the most fashionable neighborhoods in the city, there are few that would utter the word ‘Catete’ in any such discussions. Perched on the back of Glória, along from Largo do Machado and squeezed in between favela-strewn hillside and the thundering main road of the Aterro, on the surface there aren’t any immediately obvious redeeming features.

Rua do Catete

The old buildings in Rua do Catete, photo by Hmaglione/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Dig a little deeper, however, and its (very well) hidden leafy streets and parks, coupled with some of the cheapest prices in Zona Sul, mark it out as one of the few remaining spots where you can still, just possibly, find a property bargain.

Well served by bus routes and the Metro station of the same name, Catete is amply catered for when it comes to public transport. For anyone working in Centro, it could barely be better placed; just two stops and you are in Cinelândia, three and you are at Carioca station, whilst in the opposite direction a fifteen minute Metro finds you beach-side in Copacabana and Ipanema.

Indeed it is the latter stop, opened at the end of last year, that has made places like Catete more viable for the sun-worshiping Cariocas reluctant to get their feet wet on Praia do Flamengo but still keen to hit the beach whenever possible.

Flamengo’s beach, running from the start of that bairro right up to Glória, does have its attractions even if swimming in its water is not recommended. The Aterro do Flamengo park running alongside is over one million square meters of recreation space, housing running tracks, cycle paths, football pitches and tennis courts.

The beach itself is constantly buzzing with volleyball, fut-volei and the new craze of beach tennis, and at the weekends families pour into the area from all around giving it a friendly, warm atmosphere you won’t find on Copacabana’s or Ipanema’s sands.

Rua do Catete and Rua Bento Lisboa are the two main artery roads running through the area, the former leading north towards Centro, the latter heading south towards Largo do Machado. Right on Bento Lisboa is where the enormous Quartier Carioca condominium is located, which brought not just hundreds of new apartments to the area, but also its fair share of infrastructural problems. These are slowly being ironed out, but the water demand of, and waste generated by, such a sudden influx of people was a strain on the local facilities and water shortages and overflows were not uncommon.

The Quartier Carioca, with its swimming pool, cinema, restaurants and calm, open spaces was in huge demand when first released, and prices of many apartments have doubled since they were first on the market nearly two years ago. They are still regularly found for sale, mainly due to the sheer number built, and now a two bedroom here will cost around R$580,000.

A short walk from here Rua Tavares Bastos snakes up the adjoining hillside to the favela of the same name. Certainly not one of the most dangerous Rio has to offer, it is home to The Maze venue and guesthouse, and the monthly influx of foreigners for their jazz nights are a reassuring sight for anyone worried about living close to the community.

Palácio do Catete

The Palácio do Catete or Museu da República (Republic Museum), photo by Skyscrapercity.com.

Between Rua do Catete and Bento Lisboa are where, if you look hard enough, you are likely to find some of the quietest corners of this part of town, with tranquil, tree lined roads and pleasant-looking apartment buildings. Off Rua Silveira Martins are the ‘cul-de-sacs’ Rua Andrade Pertence and Martins de Mota.

Availability here is few and far between, but expect to pay around R$600,000 for a three bedroom apartment, whilst rental values vary from R$1,200 per month for a small one-bedroom to R$3,000 for a spacious three-bedroom.

Well served with restaurants and bars, close to the perennial night-time favorite Lapa, and with its own sense of history in the form of Palácio do Catete where, in 1954, President Getúlio Vargas shot himself in the chest (his nightshirt with the bullet hole in the breast remains on display today), Catete should not be overlooked by those looking for convenience, centrality, and a little more value for their money.

4 Responses to "Catete: Emerging From the Shadows"

  1. Kris  October 15, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    We love to kick around Catete during the day, but am not sure I’d feel comfortable walking around much past dark. You definitely get the true Carioca experience in this neighborhood. I’d want to know more about crime statistics before buying or renting there.

  2. Fabio  October 19, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Nice neighborhood with a historical past and feel. Real estate is similar to what is found throughout the city – but with good value for the money. Good access to public transport and other facilities such as supermarkets, pharmacies and banks. Reasonably nice restaurants and bars such as Estacao da Republica, Restaurante Carmelo, Bar Getulio and Cariocando, an outpost of the Lapa bar with the same name. Old facades along Rua do Catete are beautiful but need restoration. City needs to clean up the street vendors and vagrants along Rua do Catete and create new urban plan for the area (which includes cleaning up the visual polution). The history associated with Catete, its unique Architecture along the Rua do Catete and its easy access via metro together create the potential for this area to become a new entertainment destination much like Lapa.

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  4. John Napper  July 13, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    I am English and first visited Rio in 1996, staying with Brazilian friends in Flamengo. I fell in love with Rio and made frequent trips over the years and I really like this area. In 2008 I discovered Quartier Carioca under construction and was able to buy an apartment. As an investment this would have been a very wise move as I certainly couldn’t afford to buy it now. However, this was to be my retirement home and I have been living here for 10 months now. For me it is perfect.

    I am 15 minutes walk from Flamengo Beach, which I much prefer to the more touristy Copacobana, Ipanema or Leblon. there are plenty of good shops, bars and restaurants in the area plus it is well located for public transport to other parts of Rio. It is also walking distance from Laranjeiras where there is a Roda da Samba supplying free live music in Praça São Salvador every Saturday night.

    This is a nice place to live and I feel much safer than I did in London. Of course, as with any large city, you have to be careful and there are some places that are best not go to at night, but the Rua do Catete area is fine.

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