By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Named after an 18th century convent, Santa Teresa used to be home to some of the city’s richest families looking for a reprieve from the heat at the hilltop altitude. Today many are still drawn by the colonial architecture, stunning views, and winding cobbled streets that make this neighborhood unique.
Attracting artists, intellectuals and musicians, who walk its winding hills in search of crumbling Gallic mansions and alternative living, Santa Teresa has recently earned the nickname the ‘Montmarte of Rio.’ So it’s no surprise that a large number of French expatriates come here to visit or to live.
Charlotte Brun, a French expatriate working for an NGO, commented that “It’s great to live here because there are always lots of events happening.” She also added that the neighborhood is “cheap, close to the city centre and has beautiful views.”
As is apt for a neighborhood with a long and storied history, the eating and drinking establishments of Santa Teresa also share in the place’s heritage.
Armazém São Thiago was originally opened in 1919 as a Spanish bodega (grocery store) but has since altered, though little in appearance, and now serves ice-cold chopp beer and excellent bar snacks, including stacked sandwiches and gourmet bolinhos (‘little balls’ usually made up of fried cod or beef).
Café do Alto is another local favorite, offering a buffet of typical north-eastern Brazilian food with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. And for something a little more upmarket, there is Restaurante Aprazivel, a hidden treehouse-style restaurant with gourmet food and magical views of the city.
A truly one-of-a-kind establishment is Alda Maria Doces Portugueses, who proudly declare that they use 560 eggs daily to make Portuguese style custard tarts, cakes and other sweet delicacies, which are available to take away or eat in, surrounded by the beautiful décor of their 100-year-old house.
Getting around the steep hillside of Santa Teresa can be difficult, with many opting to use moto-taxis. The iconic yellow Bonde (tram) has been restored since its fatal accident in 2011. However, it now seems to serve as more of a tourist attraction than the necessary transport that it once was.
Santa Teresa’s real estate market is comparable to its neighbors Lapa and Glória. While its isolated position gives it a sense of tranquility and community, a lack of easy accessibility to public transport and close proximity to some favela communities on both sides has kept its property prices fairly low.
The average price to buy is around R$7,700 per square meter while the average price to rent is about R$22.85 per square meter. R$730,000 will be enough to get a three-bedroom 100m² apartment, with a balcony, situated on Rua Francisco Muratori. The apartment is located near to a bus stop and is around ten minutes walk to the nearest metro station, Cinelandia.
R$2,600 per month will secure a 148m² three-bedroom apartment with one parking space and all the usual amenities. The property is located on Rua Almirante Alexandrino, which is described as a quiet street, while the interior is described as having both great light and views of the city.