The Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. Standing high atop Mt. Corcovado, this 98 foot tall statue of Jesus watches over and protects the people of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With his arms open wide, it also stands as a symbol of Rio’s warm hospitality, welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Christ the Redeemer: History and Significance
The idea for a Christian monument to be placed atop Mount Corcovado was first suggested in the 1850’s by Vincentian priest Pedro Maria Boss. He wished to honor the Princess Regent of Brazil, Princess Isabel, although the project was never approved. However, the idea was broached again in 1921 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro. This time, the Brazilian government granted permission for the statue to be built. The first stone was laid on April 4, 1922, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Brazil’s independence from Portugal.
Money for construction of the Christ the Redeemer statue was raised privately, with the largest portion coming from the church. Contests were held to choose a designer, with local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa making the winning bid. In collaboration with French sculptor Paul Landowski, construction of the statue began in 1926.
The statue was completed in 1931 and dedicated on October 12 of the same year. Made from reinforced concrete and sandstone, the statue has become the most famous monument in Brazil. Measuring 98 feet tall (which doesn’t include the 26-foot pedestal) with a wingspan of 92 feet, the statue ranks as the 5th largest statue of Jesus and the largest art deco statue in the world. Perched atop the peak of the 2,300-foot Mount Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer can be seen from nearly anywhere in the city.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the statue, the church constructed a chapel at its base in 2006. Dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida, baptisms and other ceremonial events can now be conducted by the Roman Catholic church here. Christ the Redeemer was also voted as one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World” in 2007.
Due to its extreme exposure atop the mountain, the statue has needed to undergo some occasional repairs. Over the years, it has taken a pounding from wind and rain and is the victim of occasional lighting strikes. The most recent restoration on the monument took place in 2010.
How to Get to Christ the Redeemer
Visitors to the Christ the Redeemer statue will be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of Rio and the surrounding area. In the evening, the statue is lit, creating the illusion that Christ is suspended in the air and protecting the city throughout the dark night.
Until 2002, visitors had to climb about 200 stairs in their final ascent to the Christ the Redeemer statue. However, escalators and panoramic elevators have since been added to assist visitors with this final stage in their journey.
To get to the statue, take the cog train up Mount Corcovado. The cost runs around R$35, and trains leave about every 30 minutes. The statue is open from 8:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. If you can, try to sit on the right side of the train for the best views on your way up the mountain. Trains fill up quickly, so it’s best to get to the station first thing in the morning.
Another option is to take a taxi up the mountain. This could save you time and money, especially if you are traveling in a group. Be sure to negotiate a round-trip fare with your driver.
As one of the world’s most famous monuments, no trip to Rio would be complete without visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue. Complete with artistic relevance and incredible views, getting to this sacred statue should find a place on everybody’s bucket list.