By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Glória, a residential middle class neighborhood strategically located between Zona Sul (South Zone) and Centro, is one of the most historic areas in Rio de Janeiro with many beautiful art déco buildings. After decades of being overlooked by many, it recently has been seeing a renaissance and return to its past glamor.
“I like Glória, because it’s a very quiet neighborhood. And it is very close to everything, close to the metro, the beach and Centro,” Francivaldo Moraes, a Glória resident told The Rio Times.
Glória played an important role in the foundation of the city, as it is said that in the 16th century, the base of Glória hill was a Tupí (native Indian) village called Karioca, which later turned into the modern day name for Rio’s residents: Carioca.
Until the middle of the 20th century, Glória was then the heart of Rio’s aristocracy, due to its proximity to the governmental seats in Centro and Catete. It even became known as “the Paris of Rio”, due to the many French-style art déco buildings, and Praça Paris conveys a feeling of Versailles even today, with its trimmed trees, statues and old-fashioned street lamps.
Another historic gem is the church of Nossa Senhora da Glória de Outeiro, which gave the area its name and was restored in 2006. From the hilltop where the church stands, one has a wonderful view over the bay onto Niterói.
A major change happening in the neighborhood is the famous Hotel Glória. The reportedly first reinforced concrete building to be built in South America and a magnificent building by the same designer as Copacabana Palace, is currently under renovation.
Completion of the historic palace has been delayed until 2014, although the building’s future is unclear, as owner Eike Batista is reportedly planning to sell the place.
The sea side of Glória is taken up by a park around the Marina de Glória, which serves as starting point of boat tours around the bay and leads up to the Museum of Modern Art. The Marina was built in 1979 and also hosts concerts and events, as well as features an impressive World War II memorial site.
Recent visitors Sara and Marianna, World Youth Day pilgrims from Italy, took a moment to describe it to The Rio Times, “It is very characteristic of the city and very different from Italy. It’s beautiful.”
After the capital of Brazil had been moved from Rio to Brasília, Glória suffered from a level of neglect, earning a bit of a bad reputation. Yet real estate has seen a rise due to new investments in the area, which can be noted from 2010 onwards.
Also, last year, a Public Order Unit (UOP) began patrolling the neighborhood as part of the Operação Choque de Ordem (Operation Shock and Order). “Glória improved a lot recently. It received the UOP, it is a lot cleaner and there was a lot of new construction and renovation,” Mr. Moraes explained.
However like much of Rio, especially in Zona Sul, the real estate market has feared a bubble burst. “Prices have increased too much. Especially because most apartments in Glória are not that big,” Mr. Moraes described.
In the last twelve months, purchase prices have risen 12.8 percent and in June a square meter cost R$9,161. Rental prices have increased by 9.5 percent in the last year, although the square meter price has seen a drop in June to R$35, placing it at almost the same level as it had been in November 2012.
Data showed that this fall was mainly due to a drop in one and two bedroom apartment prices. Larger apartments, although there are fewer in the neighborhood, are still rising in price.