By Virgilio Arnaut, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – One of Zona Sul’s neighborhoods, Jardim Botânico has a privileged location nestled between Lagoa, Gávea, Humaitá and Alto da Boa Vista. It is relatively easy to reach by Rio’s buses, and it’s main street, Rua Jardim Botânico, extends across the neighborhood connecting Humaitá to Gávea and giving access to Barra da Tijuca.
This region was almost exclusively residential but in the past few years the night life has increased, especially between the streets J.J.Seabra and Batista da Costa. During weekends, young people crowd the sidewalks looking for diversion and a cold chopp in bars such as Devassa, Belmont and Jota Bar. But it’s when the sun rises that Jardim Botânico shows it’s true colors: lots of green, exuberant nature and Imperial Palms standing in the park that lends its name to the neighborhood.
The Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro (Botanic Garden) was founded in 1808 with the arriving of D. João VI in Brazil. This idyllic place offers a welcome escape from the usual city agitation; whatever the season it’s worth a stroll. Also in the neighborhood is part of Tijuca Rain Forest (the largest urban forest in the world) and the Park Lage, an enormous green area bordering the Mata Atlântica and the Corcovado mountain. This scenic spot is perfect for kids, with playgrounds, aquariums and picnic places.
The Botanic Garden was originally created to work as a acclimatization garden for spices from the east, such as pepper and cinnamon. The first plants came from the Mauricio’s Island, between those were the first Imperial Palm, the Palm Mater. Nowadays a wide variety of 6,500 plant species from various locations around the world are grown there, many of which under the threat of extinction, Pau-Brasil included.
The orchidarium is impressive, a stunning collection of 3,000 plants from more than 600 species. Many small wild animals are also part of the park experience, friendly tamarin and colorful birds singing. The Garden, open from dawn to sunset. Those 8 to 60 years old pay R$5 for the entrance, others are free to go.
Every February, the calm streets of Jardim Botânico are taken for one of Rio’s most famous carnival “blocs”, street parties. The bloc is called “Suvaco de Cristo”, which translates to “Christ’s Armpit”. The name is due to Jardim botânico geographic position right underneath the right armpit of Rio’s world famous Cristo Redentor statue.
Property prices here are very reasonable compared to Leblon, Ipanema and Lagoa. A two-bedroom apartment starts at R$400,000, while a three-bedroom runs from R$600,000. When it comes to renting, prices and property types are widely varied. The average price of a Jardim Botânico rental stays at R$2,000 (condominium fees and taxes included), but a few streets can make a big difference in value and atmosphere.
Correction: May 15th, 2009
This article was first published on May 5th and referred to the area being easy to reach by Rio’s buses and trains, however there is not an actual Metro station in Jardim Botânico. Also average apartment rental price defined as R$2,000 includes condominium fees and taxes.