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Urca is one of Rio's most charming neighborhoods. With six squares and only 16 streets, it is home to one of Rio's most famous postcards, the Sugarloaf (Pão de Açúcar). Attractions like the art-deco houses from the early 20th century, the old Casino on the beach are surrounded by scenic Guanabara Bay. Several artists live here, including singer Roberto Carlos (known as the King in Brazil, like Elvis in the U.S.).
Urca has an important historical role, as reportedly this is where Estácio de Sá inaugurated the city in 1565. The oldest construction still standing is the Fortaleza de São João, of 1618. It was renovated in 1872, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Brazil's independence. This is when its 15 cannons were installed.
Casino da Urca was one of the most glamorous casinos in Brazil. When gambling was outlawed in Brazil it was turned into the headquarters of TV network Tupi. Casino do Chacrinha, a cult variety show, was broadcast live from here. A major fire would later burn down the studio.
The Sugarloaf complex includes two hills. You reach it by Av. Pasteur, it's a quick 10 minute ride from Copacabana. The shortest hill is named Morro da Urca, the first stop of the cable cars. It's 224 meters tall. This is where you find the restaurant, and amphitheater. It was the highlight of Rio's nightlife in the 80's with a nightclub named The Frenetic Dancing Days. It was also home to legendary Carnival balls, promoted by Guilherme Araújo. The Sugarloaf itself is 395 meters tall. About one million people visit the Sugarloaf every year.
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