Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana, Brazil | CruiseBe
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Sugarloaf Mountain

Natural sights
nature, beauty nature, mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain (Portuguese: Pão de Açúcar) is a peak situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 meters (1,299 ft) above the harbor, its name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. It is known worldwide for its cableway and panoramic views of the city.


The lonely mountain is only one of several monolithic granite and quartz mountains that rise straight from the water's edge around Rio de Janeiro. A glass-walled cablecar (in popular Portuguese, bondinho – more properly called teleférico), capable of holding 65 people , runs along a 1400-meter route between the peaks of Pão de Açúcar and Morro da Urca every 20 minutes. The original cable car line was built in 1912 and rebuilt around 1972/1973 and in 2008. The cable car leaves a ground station located at the base of the Babilônia hill, to the Urca hill and then to the Pão de Açúcar.

Origins of the name

The name "Sugarloaf" was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil. According to historian Vieira Fazenda, blocks of sugar were placed in conical molds made of clay to be transported on ships. The shape given by these molds was similar to the peak, hence the name.

1907 – The Brazilian engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos had the idea of linking the hills through a path in the air.
1910 – The same engineer founded the Society of Sugar Loaf and the same year the works were started. The project was commissioned in Germany and built by Brazilian workers. All parts were taken by climbing mountains or lift by steel cables.
1912 – Opening of the tram. First lift of Brazil. The first cable cars were made of coated wood and were used for 60 years.
1972 – The current template trolley was put into operation. This increased the carrying capacity by almost ten times.
2009 – Inauguration of the next generation of cable cars that had already been purchased and are on display at the base of Red Beach.

Reaching the site

To reach the summit, passengers take two cable cars. The first ascends to the shorter Morro da Urca, 220 meters (722 ft) high. The second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar. The Swiss-made bubble-shaped cars offer passengers 360-degree views of the surrounding city. The climb takes three minutes from start to finish.

Rock climbing

Visitors can watch rock climbers on Sugarloaf and the other two mountains in the area: Morro da Babilônia (Babylon Mountain), and Morro da Urca (Urca's Mountain). Together, they form one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world, with more than 270 routes, between 1 and 10 pitches long.

Appearances in media

  • Flying Down to Rio (1933) Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The beach-side Hotel Atlantico has views across the bay looking toward Sugar loaf Mountain.
  • Now, Voyager (1942) Starring Bette Davis.
  • In the 1979 James Bond film, Moonraker, the villainous henchman Jaws (played by Richard Kiel) attempts to kill 007 (Roger Moore) and the agent's ally, Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), on a cable car. However, Bond and Goodhead escape and Jaws collides with the building at the bottom of the cable car route, demolishing the building but escaping unscathed.
  • Herb Alpert recorded a song entitled "Sugarloaf" for his 1982 album Fandango.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Blame It on Lisa", Homer's kidnappers meet with the rest of the family for the exchange between two cable cars.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, this mountain can be seen from the map "Favela".
  • In the film Rio, the mountain can be seen several times throughout the film.​

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