In Rio de Janeiro, the gargantuan statue of Christ the Redeemer towers spectacularly over one of the most recognizable landscapes in the world. Known in Brazil as Cristo Redentor, the statue measures 30.1 m or 99 feet in height (not including a 6-meter or 20-foot-tall pedestal), its arms stretch to 19 m or 62 feet, and its total weight is approximately 700 tons.
Constructed over a period of 9 years, from 1922 to 1931, the statue was designed by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald and it was carved by French sculptor Paul Landowski, who preferred the Art Deco style. The interior structure of the statue is made of reinforced concrete and the outer layers are of soapstone. The cost to build the statue totaled 2 million reais, at that time equal to $250,000, or a staggering $3 million in today’s equivalent, and incredibly, all the funds were donations gathered by Catholic parishes across Brazil.
At the time of its construction, the Christ the Redeemer statue was the greatest feat of Brazilian engineering. It was also the largest Jesus statue in the world, though it has since lost this distinction to other, successively bigger ones around the world. Today, it holds fifth place in the ranking of statues by size, but it is the only Jesus statue recognized as a World Wonder. Every day, hundreds of locals and foreign travelers visit this most iconic of Brazil travel attractions.
The Christ the Redeemer statue’s fame as one of Brazil’s most recognizable landmarks may be partly due to the inimitable urban and cultural landscape over which the statue stands guard. Situated atop Mount Corcovado in the Tijuca Forest National Park (the largest urban park in the world), the statue presides over remarkable views of the city of Rio below, including the iconic beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the granite rock outcrop directly on the coast known as Sugarloaf Mountain, as well the distinctive Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. These sites (and sights) are the classic highlights of a Rio de Janeiro tour.
Brazil is a deeply Catholic country. Talk to any Brazilian, and if the subject of Rio de Janeiro comes up, they are sure to sing the praises of the Christ the Redeemer statue, a symbol as deeply entwined with the identity of the city (and the nation) as Carnaval, samba, cachaça, its beautiful tropical beaches, or “o jogo bonito” (literally, “the beautiful game,” also known as football or soccer).
The most recent modifications to the structure were completed in October 2006, when the Chapel of Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady of Apparition, patron saint of Brazil) was dedicated. Located at the base of the statue, the chapel has a capacity for 150 worshippers and Catholic weddings and baptisms can be celebrated here.
In 2007, the Christ the Redeemer Statue was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in a competition organized by the New7Wonders Foundation. Millions of voters participated in the election, and Rio’s magnificent man-made creation was chosen alongside other wonders, including our already profiled Machu Picchu, as well as Chichen Itza, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and others.
The main viewing platform of Cristo Redentor can be accessed by a series of walkways, escalators, and elevators. For a very cool aerial panorama of Christ the Redeemer and the city of Rio, check out this site: http://bit.ly/UWwyqo.
The travel experts at Latin America For Less can help you organize tours to Brazil’s top destinations, including Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, and the Amazon. Contact us to start planning your dream Brazil vacation.
Anabel has been exploring the length and width of South America since 2010. Ditching preconceptions, settling into the local pace, and embracing the unexpected are the tenets of her philosophy of travel – and life.