By Karen Shishiptorova, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brushing the greenery and wildlife of the Mata Atlântica Forest, Gávea is within a five minute drive to São Conrado, Lagoa, Jardim Botânico and Leblon. In the Twenties, the area was for the most part blue collar and residential, with a few manufacturing plants. Many Cariocas perceive it as a bit of a nocturnal playground, due to its well-known bars and clubs.
Baixo Gávea — meaning lower Gávea, topography wise — is a two block restaurant, bar and beer vendor area attracting mostly the young and hip. There are two nightclubs, four theater halls, five screening rooms, plus cultural institutes, several art galleries, ateliers and film production companies in the neighborhood. Two of Rio´s most charming malls offer products, services and unique eateries.
The Zona Sul area is close to Rede Globo´s headquarters (Brazil´s largest network TV) in Jardim Botânico. A certain laid back sophistication in a natural makes this milieu popular with artists and celebrities. Many actors, writers, screenwriters, musicians, journalists and film directors call Gávea home.
However, Gávea is also the address of several of Rio´s best schools — including the American School of Rio de Janeiro — and Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC), among the world´s top private universities, with campus, events, research, funding and technology to match.
Currently under construction, the Núcleo Regional de Competência em Petróleo (NRCP) — PUC´s new R$30 million state of the art oil research facility — will house fifteen labs designed for maximum operational and confidential research data safety. This brings in top faculty and business professionals, PhDs from all over the world, plus an eclectic population ranging from freshmen to graduate students. Such rich academic and cultural vocation lends Gávea a Berkeley flair.
The neighborhood is proud to house the official residence of Rio’s mayor. It also boasts the 118-acre Parque da Cidade (City Park) and museum, the Jockey Club racetracks, the city´s Planetarium and Universe Museum. In addition, places of worship abound, with eight churches from varied denominations, including two monasteries. Equally religious soccer fans will be pleased to know that Rio’s top team Flamengo has its headquarters here as well. For antiques buffs, Santos Dumont Square holds a charming fair on Sundays.
Despite the hustle and bustle one could expect from the neighborhood’s many offerings, residents enjoy quiet, tree lined streets. Smart city planning has ensured that most commercial activity is clustered around the Gávea Mall. Marquês de São Vicente, the main street, is serviced by bus. From Santos Dumont Square there is public transportation to all points in Rio, including the subway shuttle, and both airports.
With little room for expansion due to protected state park borders, Gávea is a seller´s market. Two bedrooms start at R$300,000, while three bedrooms range from R$370,000 all the way to R$1 million depending on size and location. One bedrooms are harder to find and start at R$220,000. Rentals fall anywhere between R$1,800 and R$2,800 for 2 and 3 bedrooms. Certain areas of upper Gávea may cost less, due to proximity to the Rocinha and Parque da Cidade communities, and fewer bus lines.
Karen is a bilingual writer, screenwriter, journalist and translator.