By Patricia Maresch, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Ask a Carioca ‘What’s your opinion on Flamengo?’ and it’s unlikely the answer will be about the neighborhood. Flamengo is football (soccer), the name of Rio’s favorite team. But it is also a small and vibrant middle class neighborhood located between Botafogo and Centro with the most spectacular view of the Sugar Loaf.
In addition, Flamengo holds the largest urban park in Brazil, annually hosts Rio’s Marathon and is full of splendid Art Deco architecture.
The Aterro do Flamengo (Flamengo Park) stretches for seven kilometers alongside the Bay of Guanabara up to Santos Dumont Airport.
The park was designed in the 1950s by famous Brazilian landscaper Burle Marx who also landscaped Brazil’s capital Brasília.
The area includes gardens, 1,500 meters of sandy beach, jogging trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and sports courts. Flamengo is considered an excellent spot for practicing beach sports, rollerblading, cycling and relaxing.
It’s not recommended to swim at Flamengo beach though, since the water in the area is quite polluted. The park counts three museums: the Museum of Modern Art MAM/RJ, the National Monument to the Dead of the Second World War and the Carmen Miranda Museum.
Foreign visitors who are into architecture are drawn to Flamengo because the neighborhood holds some of the world’s gems of Art Deco design, including the famous Biarritz Building and even a Carioca version of New York’s legendary Dakota building.
The avenues Marques de Abrantes and Senador Vergueiro are the two main streets, lined with majestic palm trees and large beautiful art déco homes with high ceilings, huge windows and wooden floors. Some also offer magnificent views of Rio’s finest scenery: the Guanabara bay, the Sugar Loaf, the Marina da Gloria and even a distant Nitéroi.
Although Flamengo lacks the student-like nightlife of neighboring Botafogo, the district offers some nice bars, like the very popular Botequim Belmonte and German beer bar Herr Brauer.
Until the 1950s, Flamengo was the principal residential zone of Rio’s wealthier class. That was until the tunnel to Copacabana opened. Flamengo then turned into a largely middle class, quiet family-atmosphere-like neighborhood.
Recently however, Flamengo has made a comeback as trendier area, especially among young, working couples. They realized that thanks to three Metro stations in the district, Flamengo is only minutes away from both Centro in one direction, and Copacabana and Ipanema in the other..
Particularly popular is the upscale waterfront area. Beach front in Flamengo doesn’t directly mean directly on the beach, there is the park between the beach and the residential area.
For renting, most apartments have two bedrooms, and there is more choice in apartments with three and four bedrooms. The two-bedrooms that are available start at R$1,500 per month and go up to R$3,500, where three-bedrooms start at R$2,000 and go up to R$5,000 per month.
As in the rest of Rio, prices for buying property have gone up in recent years in Flamengo as well. A one-bedroom starts at around R$285,000, while the wider available three and four-bedrooms range between R$600,000 for a regular apartment or R$3 million for a beachfront penthouse with a sublime view of the Sugar Loaf.