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.
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.
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.
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.