By William Jones, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The neighborhood of Gávea is a popular, high-end residential region of Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone), its affluence represented by the leafy surroundings of dwellings mixed in among a bohemian feel of professionals and students. As such, the contrast with neighboring Rocinha, one of the continent’s largest favelas, is a striking one.
The area also borders the Lagoa, Leblon and Jardim Botânico on its eastern and northern edge and is well-positioned for straightforward access to downtown Rio de Janeiro and Barra da Tijuca. The upper slopes host some of the most sought-after housing in the city, while nearby amenities such as bars, convenience stores, specialist boutiques and an up to date modern shopping center make it one of the most popular residential locations in Rio, coupling open space with a central location and easy access to the beaches.
Public transportation to and from Gávea is currently limited to a huge number of buses, but construction of the Gávea Metrô station, which will be located opposite the PUC University and part of the much-vaunted Linha 4 (Line 4), began in August 2013 and will eventually connect Gávea to the very center of the city to one end, and rapidly expanding Barra at the other.
As it still revels in its slight detachment from much of the city, the atmosphere is perhaps best encapsulated by the tranquil Parque da Cidade, which lies on the fringes of Tijuca forest and shares the luscious greenery and a host of wildlife from monkeys to toucans. The former summer residence of the Marques de São Vicente also houses the National History Museum with around 20,000 historical artifacts, including the emperor Dom João VI’s throne, while the nearby Instituto Moreira Salles offers an excellent array of exhibitions and film screenings.
Gávea is also home to PUC university, lending the area its youthful buzz. Praça Santos Dumont, located in the so-called Baixo Gávea region, is a popular meeting and drinking spot for those looking to enjoy the rich, cultural and traditional nightlife of the area. Further up the hill towards Rua José Roberto Soares, many more bars and restaurants can be found but most close by 1AM in response to strict local noise pollution laws.
A lesser-known icon of the city is the Hipódromo da Gávea, or Joquei Clube, the horse racing venue built in 1926 where meets are still held on weekend afternoons and evenings. The Joquei is considered to be one of the most beautiful settings for a racing track anywhere in the world, with the Copacabana skyline and statue of Christ in full view, all bordering on the Lagoa. The first Sunday of August is the easily biggest day in the racing calendar courtesy of the international Grande Prêmio, regularly drawing more than 50,000 spectators.
Two-bedroom properties in Gávea start around R$900,000 and prices rise to R$2 million for a three-bedroom of around 130 square meters. The purchase price per square meter is currently R$13,243 up 5.1 percent since the beginning of the year despite leveling-off in recent months.
Average rental prices have oscillated at around R$55 per square meter, a little more than neighboring Jardim Botânico, but still significantly less than the prices found in nearby Ipanema and Leblon. Expect to pay around R$5,000 a month for a two-bedroom of 80-100 square meters.