By Nelson Belen and Ciara Long, Contributing Reporters
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the most important legacy projects of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics was the new metro (subway) line which not only impacted transportation by connecting Ipanema in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) with Barra da Tijuca in Zona Oeste (West Zone), but also resurrected beloved neighborhood squares in two of Rio’s most upscale and trendiest neighborhoods, Antero de Quental in Leblon and Nossa Senhora de Paz in Ipanema.
Named after the Portuguese poet Antero Tarquínio de Quental (1842-1891), Praça Antero de Quental (Antero de Quental Square) is located in the heart of Leblon and originally opened in 1942. The square remained unchanged for decades, until architect Luiz Eduardo Indio da Costa and the landscaper Fernando Chacel completely renovated it in 1996.
In 2012, the square and many of the surrounding streets were closed to make way for the new Metro Line 4, accompanied by the new Antero de Quental station in the run up to the 2016 Games. Finally in July 2016, just days before the opening of the Games, the revitalized Antero de Quental square opened along with the new metro station.
The new Praça Antero de Quental has a completely refurbished landscape design with new trees and toys in the playground, and includes a swing adapted for disabled visitors. Seniors also have a dedicated area for exercise and the square has refurbished seating areas and and enhanced lighting.
The metro station has two entrances on either side of the square, one facing Avenida Bartolomé Mitre and another on the corner where Rua General Urquiza meets Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva.
In Ipanema, Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace Square) originally opened almost one hundred years ago in 1917, as Praça Souza Ferreira. The square took its current name from the nearby church in 1936. The main feature of the park was a statue of Senator Pinheiro Machado (1851 – 1915), a tribute to one of Brazil’s leading political figures at the turn of the last century.
Like Praça Antero de Quental, Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz also closed in 2012 for Metro Line 4’s construction and reopened in May 2016. Residents and visitors were treated to new wooden toys and vast playground area, to replace the old, iron installations. There are new benches and bike racks, a new dog park, and the park’s lighting was also enhanced.
Recently, thousands of visitors came to the square for the food truck festival Ipanema Urbana. Lasting from noon until late night on November 26th and 27th, visitors were able to take advantage of trucks selling gourmet burgers, crepes and craft beers among other culinary pleasures. This week on December 10th, many of the food trucks will return and the square will be visited by Father Christmas, collecting donations for local NGO Obra do Berço (Work of the Cradle).
Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz is also easily accessible using the new Metro Line 4 and, as in Praça Antero de Quental, it has new stations on either side of the park. The new station has two passenger entrances on the streets Joana Angélica and Maria Quitéria, both at the corner of Rua Visconde de Pirajá. Built to ensure the accessibility of all, there are ramps and lifts in the two entrances.