By Shalina Chatlani, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL- Tucked away between popular neighborhoods of Urca and Copacabana in Zone Sul (South Zone), Leme is a quieter residential area in Rio that is often overlooked. With its beautiful suburban streets, attractive mom and pop restaurants, and easy distance to other parts of the city, the neighborhood definitely deserves a lot more attention.
In reality, Leme is an extension of Copacabana. The area occupies about one kilometer of Copacabana Beach from the end of Avenida Atlântica to Avenida Princesa Isabel. Leme’s portion of the beach is generally less packed than other areas like Posto Five or Six, and making it popular among families.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Leme, for which it was named after, is the Morro do Leme (Leme hill), a rock formation that resembles the helm of a ship. Residents and visitors can walk or bike to the end of Avenida Atlantica and enter the path path around the hill, where they will find a number of fisherman trying to make a catch, as well as a great view onto Copacabana Beach.
For just R$4 visitors can also take a thirty minute walk along a paved stone road that winds to the top of the hill through Mata Atlântica tropical rainforest. Since 1987, the hill has undergone projects of reforestation and is now home to thousands of different types of plants and around ninety animal species, including the popular Sagui Monkeys and Coatis.
At the top of the hill, visitors will discover a fort built in 1776 to guard Guanabara Bay that was renamed in 1935 as Forte Duque de Caxais, although today it is simply known as the Fort of Leme. Since the fort is maintained by the military, the pathway is generally quite safe. Visitors can go to walk the stone road and see the fifteen stations of the cross, copper and bronze sculptures that depict the final hours of Jesus, from Monday to Sunday between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM.
Besides the natural attractions, Leme is also home to a number of great restaurants with a range of cuisines. Some popular establishments include Galeria 1618, for a book filled and picturesque french dinner, Amir, where one can eat delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, Azumi, an authentic Japanese sushi house, and Restaurant Shirley, for great seafood.
Some nearby coffee stops worth visiting include Sofra Cafe along Nossa Senhora de Copacabana and Nonna Ridolfí Cafe on Ronald de Carvalho. This latter street also closes down every Thursday to host an elaborate farmers’ market, where residents can enjoy some of the fresh vegetables and fruits at very low prices.
Leme is mainly accessible via bike or bus. Several buses that pass through Copacabana go all the way until the end of Leme, while the closest Metro stop is Copacabana’s Cardeal Arcoverde. If traveling from Copacabana, though, the walk along the beach is not long and quite enjoyable on a good day.
Although Leme doesn’t have many nightlife options, no clubs in particular, it does have some smaller bars spread out through the neighborhood. For those craving a quieter more suburban lifestyle, however, Leme is the perfect location.
The average apartment purchase price per square meter has dropped since last December by about 2.1 percent, reaching R$11,681 in July 2015. Rents per month have fallen by 9.1 percent in the same period, reaching a similar level as one year ago with an average R$50 per square meter in July, according to FipeZap.