By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Featuring elegant art deco architecture, located next to the Guanabara bay, with the largest urban public park in Brazil and breathtaking views of Sugarloaf mountain, Flamengo offers as diverse an experience of city life as any neighborhood in the South Zone (Zona Sul).
It isn’t just Flamengo’s location which makes it one of the most desirable locales of the moment, though it’d be a hard one to beat. The neighborhood is serviced by two metro stations (Flamengo and Largo do Machado) and is a short ride away from the central business district to the north, as well as the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon to the south.
Within walking distance from Flamengo are, to the west, Laranjeras, another family-friendly, residential neighbourhood, and to the south, Botafogo, the trendier little brother to Flamengo. While, to the north, the party-hub of Lapa and the bohemian hillside of Santa Teresa are just a short taxi ride away.
Many residents, however, are happy to stay put, with Flamengo offering a wide variety of restaurants, bars, museums and outdoor activities. The defining landmark of the neighborhood is the gargantuan Aterro do Flamengo, the largest urban public park in Brazil, and a work of art in itself, designed by the modernist maestro, Roberto Burle Marx.
Here, residents picnic, jog, cycle, play football, or while away the time however they see fit. The park also hosts concerts, sporting events, and accommodated the Rio+20 summit.
Culturally, Flamengo has plenty to keep its inhabitants stimulated. The beautifully restored Museum of the Republic, located in a former presidential palace and just a short walk away in neighboring Catete, is a window back in time, with exhibitions detailing how it witnessed some of the major events in Brazilian history, including the dramatic suicide of President Vargas, the signing of declarations of war in both 1917 and 1942, and the visit of a future Pope.
Castelinho do Flamengo is another architectural wonder, looking like it has been teleported from a hillside in Transylvania. Legend has it that it used to be the scene of decadent parties during Rio’s Belle Epoque, in the early 20th century; now it hosts cultural events, theatrical productions, and the occasional exhibition.
For cinephiles, the Kinoplex São Luiz presents popular films as well as featuring entries to the Rio film festival.
The restaurants of Flamengo cater to all tastes and budgets. Those looking for a bit of decadence can head to the famous Paris Gastro, which serves French cuisine in Casa Julieta da Serpa, one of the most striking and lavish buildings in all of Rio.
For excellent food at a low price, a locals’ enduring favorite is the Rotisseria Sírio Libanesa, located within the Galeria Condor shopping centre, great for Middle-Eastern snacks such as kibe, tabule, and sfeehas. Churrascaria Majórica offers something in the middle, priding itself on offering straight-forward but high-quality Brazilian barbecue.
Local resident, João de Beyssac, praised the inexpensive nature and convenient location of the neighborhood. “After moving to Flamengo, I noticed that the cost of living is not very high, and it is well situated in the city, near all the destinations and with good restaurants close at hand. The neighborhood also has a sizable Asian community, which is rare for Rio.”
Often overlooked in favor of Botafogo or Lapa, Flamengo’s nightlife is enjoying a resurgence. One of the most eccentric bars in the area, and definitely something different, is Bartman, a Batman themed bar with a devoted cult following.
Praça São Salvador is also a great place to sip a beer at one of its many bars, but also, on a Sunday, hosts a wonderful open-air market and legendary recitals of chorinho music.
A modest, two-bedroom apartment on Rua Barão do Flamengo will set you back around R$850,000; while a large two-bedroom apartment on Avenida Rui Barbossa, complete with views of Christ the Redeemer and a parking space, costs R$2.2 million.
To rent an apartment in this neighborhood will cost about R$30.8 per square meter, which is around the same price as this time last summer. A two-bedroom apartment on Praia do Flamengo, with a parking space, can be rented for about R$2,900 per month, not including condominium fees.