By Helen Trouten Torres, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For those seeking a traditional neighborhood in Rio with similar comforts and amenities of Zona Sul (South Zone), Tijuca is an obvious choice. Often referred to as the ‘Zona Sul of Zona Norte,’ Tijuca offers easy access to all parts of the city, and located in a large valley surrounded by the rainforest clad mountains of Tijuca National Park, the largest urban jungle in the world, it also enjoys natural air conditioning.
Situated at the beginning of Rio’s Metro ‘Line One,’ the last station on the other end is Ipanema, just 35 minutes away. This allows Tijuca residents, known as Tijucanas, to have easy access to the Zona Sul beaches while workers are conveniently closer to the city center. Also, a new Uruguai station will open in Tijuca in 2014, to serve the many new properties that have been built in the area.
Home to over 150,000 inhabitants, Tijuca is mainly a middle-class district, and historically it was home to the wealthiest of barons and nobles. Rio’s industrial revolution began here with many large factories of which the façades have been preserved and transformed into shopping centers that add to Tijuca’s charm.
Tijuca resident Ana Beatriz Rocha dos Santos moved to the area from Laranjeiras and fell in love with the traditional air of the place. “Since I moved here I feel safe, it’s like a big family home.”
Residents and visitors to Zona Sul often note the lack of samba to be heard, but this is certainly not the case in Tijuca where the samba wafts from the neighborhood’s traditional botecos (small bars), and mingles with the aromas of the traditional ‘comida de boteco’ (bar snacks similar to Spain’s tapas).
It is no coincidence that two of Rio’s biggest carnival samba schools are located in Tijuca, Salgueiro and Unidos da Tijuca. Also, Jorge Ben Jor, Tim Maia, Tom Jobim, Ed Motta and Milton Nascimento were all born in Tijuca, adding to the local lore that the area inspires musicians.
Another attraction of Tijuca is the proximity to Brazil’s temple of football (soccer), the Maracanã Stadium – although currently closed for renovations. The plentiful bars and restaurants of Tijuca are normally bustling with animated activity on match days, where fans usually stay on after the games to continue into the samba night.
House-hunters can find a range of properties to choose from in Tijuca. The area has preserved many colonial style houses which offer a comfortable choice for families. The colorful houses, together with their mixes of architecture, add to the character of Tijuca’s tree-lined streets.
Mansions sit proudly on the Rua Alta da Boa Vista, which runs from the center of Tijuca over the forest connecting to Barra de Tijuca’s beaches. Apartments and smaller houses are also abundant, many of which are in the sought after villas (gated pedestrian streets).
One-bedroom properties average around R$215,000 in Tijuca, two-bedrooms R$343,000 and three-bedrooms R$467,000, according to the Union of Property Buying and Selling in Rio (Secovi).
The average price to rent a one-bedroom apartment is R$1,000, not including condo fees and taxes. Renting a two-bedroom is R$1,500 on average and a three-bedroom home is around R$1,700, according to weekly figures published in O Globo. This amount would not even rent a studio apartment in most Zona Sul neighborhoods, and many feel what Tijuca lacks in ocean views is made up for in stunning lush green jungle mountains.