By Milli Legrain, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city’s saltwater Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas gives its name to the sumptuous Lagoa region that occupies the middle ground between fellow upmarket neighborhoods Jardim Botânico, Gávea, Leblon and Ipanema to the west and Humaitá and Copacabana to the east. Unsurprisingly, apartments along the shore, with their spectacular views of the lake as well as Christ the Redeemer are highly sought after and among the most expensive in the city.
In 1660 the land where today stand the areas of Jardim Botânico, Gávea and Lagoa, was acquired by Rodrigo de Freitas Mello e Castro. In 1808 the whole area was expropriated by Dom João VI to found the Botanical Gardens as well as a gunpowder factory. As real estate speculation began in the 1970s, architect Oscar Niemeyer was among the names to lobby for the area to be protected as part of the national heritage.
Today, the 7.5km path that wraps around the lagoon’s strip of parkland is a busy spot for joggers, cyclists and skaters. Dotted sporadically along the water’s edge are restaurants, bars and kiosks, some offering live music, whilst bikes, sailboats and pedalos can be rented. At Christmas, an enormous floating Christmas tree is built on the lake, attracting thousands of visitors with a huge firework display.
Given the huge expanse of water and its rich, green areas such as Parque da Catacumba, the region has a relatively low population density. From the latter hillside park, a 25-minute hike offers fine views over the lake to Christ the Redeemer on one side and Ipanema on the other. The bottom of the hill also hosts a collection of sculptures by internationally renowned artists, a far cry from the favela that once stood here until it was removed by order of Governor Carlos Lacerda in the 1960s.
The Lagoa also boasts the Eva Klabin Foundation. Originally one of the first residential homes to be built on the lagoon, it now houses one of Brazil´s most important art collections including paintings, sculptures and furniture stretching back to antiquity. Musical soirees are regularly held here on Thursday evenings.
The Rebouças tunnel located to the north of the lake offers strategic connections with Rio´s North Zone, reaching out to the international airport via Linha Vermelha, while Avenida Henrique Dodsworth – Corte de Cantagalo as it is better known – on the south-east side is the fastest route to Copacabana, circumventing the pacified Cantagalo favela. The lagoon itself is linked to the Atlantic Ocean by the Jardim de Alah canal located in neighboring Leblon. The nearest metros are Cantagalo and Siqueira Campos.
Prices in Lagoa have averaged around R$12,420 per square meter since July 2012. A small two-bedroom apartment starts at approximately R$1-1.2 million with larger apartments easily fetching R$2-3 million. Many of the apartment blocks overlooking the lake have communal swimming pools.