By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – What Laranjeiras lacks in beaches and tourists, it makes up for in verdancy, sophistication and a gema da Cidade (at the heart of the city) lifestyle. Tucked away from Guanabara bay and under the watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer, Laranjeiras is a historically rich neighborhood that has enjoyed a deserved resurgence over recent years.
Once a royal residence, the neighborhood is home to two stunning palaces: the eponymous Palácio Laranjeiras, formerly the home to Brazil’s presidents and now the official residence of the state governor, it is open for public viewing throughout the week; and Palácio Guanabara, which used to be home to Princess Isabel of Brazil and is now the seat of the state government.
Parque Eduardo Guinle, which contains Palácio Laranjeiras, was modernised by Roberto Burle Marx and is now open to the public. It is one of many attractive public spaces that feed Laranjeiras’s spirit of neighborly openness.
Praça São Salvador is perhaps the epitome of what Laranjeiras has to offer. It is a public square surrounded by bars and restaurants, with children playing in the day and adults drinking and conversing well into the night. On Sundays, it holds a Roda de Choro (a communal recitation of ‘Choro’ music, a sophisticated genre similar to Samba) and hosts a market.
Laranjeiras is well known for its antiques and street fares. Mercadinho São José (Saint Joseph’s Market) is an indoor market with individual stores selling art, music and food, which has a special artisanal market every Saturday from 10AM-5PM with live musical performances and Capoeira.
Maria Birman, Biology Student, commented on the relaxed nature of the neighborhood, “I grew up in Laranjeiras. It’s a tranquil neighborhood, residential and bucolic. The buildings are old and the majority of the pavements are wide, with trees lining the streets.”
When asked what made it stand out, she simply stated, “Out of the Zona Sul neighborhoods, it’s the least pretentious!” She also recommended Maya Café as a “great place for children with lots of delicious food.”
When dining out, locals go to Mamma Rosa, an unpretentious Italian restaurant that offers excellent service and authentic dishes at reasonable prices. Or there is Maé Noi, one of the city’s few truly authentic Thai restaurants.
While Praça São Salvador is the social hub of the neighborhood, nearby Cosme Velho is where the nightlife continues, with plenty of Casarãos (old colonial mansions) now repurposed into bars, art galleries and nightclubs, including Casarão da Z42 Arte, Casarão Floresta and Solar dos Abacaxis.
The neighborhood, while having nearby Lago de Machado and Flamengo metro stations, does not have the best transport links, though it is serviced by many bus routes. However, residents seem to like the hidden away aspect which means quieter streets and less tourists. Further to the family-friendly atmosphere, the famous Lycée Molière de Rio de Janeiro (French International School of Rio de Janeiro) is also located in Laranjeiras.
While Laranjeiras has become hugely more desirable in the past ten to fifteen years, Rio has also suffered one of its worst property slumps, meaning that prices have stayed more or less stable since 2016.
When looking for an apartment to buy in Laranjeiras, prices vary from around R$6,000 per square meter for a small one-bedroom apartment to R$15,000 per square meter and above for a large family-sized property. The average currently lies at around R$10,000 per square meter.
The average rent at the moment is around R$29 per square meter. With a typical example of an apartment being around 110m², with three-bedrooms, on Rua das Laranjeiras for R$2,500 per month excluding taxes and condominium charges.