Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain (Portuguese: Pão de Açúcar pronounced [ˈpɐ̃w̃ d͡ʒi aˈsukaʁ]) is a peak situated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 m (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 and beyond.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Enseada de Botafogo e Pão de Açúcar.jpg
Highest point
Elevation396 m (1,299 ft)
Coordinates22°56′55″S 43°09′26″W / 22.94861°S 43.15722°W / -22.94861; -43.15722Coordinates: 22°56′55″S 43°09′26″W / 22.94861°S 43.15722°W / -22.94861; -43.15722
Sugarloaf Mountain is located in Rio de Janeiro
Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain
Location in Rio de Janeiro
LocationRio de Janeiro
Sugarloaf (background right) and Botafogo beach
Sugarloaf view from Botafogo beach
Sunrise in Rio de Janeiro with Sugarloaf Mountain, as seen from Tijuca Forest

The mountain is one of several monolithic granite and quartz mountains that rise straight from the water's edge around Rio de Janeiro. Geologically, it is considered part of a family of steep-sided rock outcroppings known as non-inselberg bornhardts.

The mountain is protected by the Sugarloaf Mountain and Urca Hill Natural Monument, created in 2006. This became part of a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 2012.[1]

Origins of the nameEdit

The name Sugarloaf was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugarcane 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 form of the peak reminded them of the well-known resulting "sugarloaf" shape, and the nickname has since been extended to be a general descriptor for formations of this kind.[2]

Cable carEdit

A glass-walled cable car (bondinho or, more formally, teleférico), capable of holding 65 people, runs along a 1,400 m (4,600 ft) route between the peaks of Sugarloaf and Morro da Urca every 20 minutes. The original cable car line was built in 1912 and rebuilt around 1972–73 and in 2008. The cable car goes from a ground station, at the base of Morro da Babilônia, to Morro da Urca and thence to Sugarloaf's summit.

Reaching the summitEdit

To reach the summit, passengers take two cable cars. The first ascends to the shorter Morro da Urca, 220 m (722 ft) high. The second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar.[3] The Swiss-made bubble-shaped cars offer passengers 360° views of the surrounding city. The ascent takes three minutes from start to finish.


  • 1907 – 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 lifted 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 61 years.
  • 1973 – The current models of cars were 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
Panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói (right) from Sugarloaf

Rock climbingEdit

Visitors can watch rock climbers on Sugarloaf and the other two mountains in the area, Morro da Babilônia and Morro da Urca. 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 mediaEdit



  1. ^ Monumento Natural dos Morros do Pão de Açúcar e da Urca (in Portuguese), SMAC: Secretaria Municipal de Meio Ambiente, retrieved 2017-01-15
  2. ^ Allaby, Michael (2010). A Dictionary of Ecology (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-19-956766-9.
  3. ^ Lonely Planet: Rio de Janeiro, page 76, Ricardo Gomes, John Maier Jr et al., 2006, Lonely Planet Publications, ISBN 1-74059-910-1
  4. ^ Balderas, Christopher (30 August 2018). "20 Of The Sickest Places Featured On The Amazing Race (That We Can Visit Too)". TheTravel. Retrieved 7 January 2020.

External linksEdit