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.
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.
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.