Christ the Redeemer Statue: Rio de Janeiro's Famous Statue
The Christ the Redeemer statue towers about 750 meters or 2,430 feet over the megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It was erected on the top of the Corcovado Mountain in 1931. Standing among lush and semi tropical vegetation, this statue is emblematic of the cities Carnival parades. The Art Deco image of Jesus Christ stands at 98 feet tall, looking down over the city with outstretched arms.
While Brazil was still a Portuguese Territory, in the 1850’s, the Catholics wanted to erect a statue on the hilltop park because if its stunning panoramic view. A priest went back to Portugal to seek aid from the crown, Princess Isabel, who refused to fund his project. The church and state were separated in 1889 with the Brazilian Independence, and the cause died. In 1921, the task was undertaken by local Archdioceses who appealed for funding from the local Catholics to build a great monument. The financing took over 10 years to secure the required amount to create the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
This statue was a work that involved international efforts. The outer shell of soapstone was created by Paul Landowski, a French-polish sculptor, who developed it based upon the sketches done by Carlos Oswald. Even though this stone is very soft in nature, it was determined to be the best for weather, erosion, and deformation.
Heitor da Silva Costa engineered the inner framework of the statue from reinforced concrete. The concrete was chosen over the steel because it is stronger against the high winds and tremors considering the cross shape of the statue. The Christ the Redeemer Statue was built in several pieces, and assembled on the mountain. The transportation of the heavy pieces was done by the Corcovado Rack Railway that was built in 1892.
The statue was dedicated in October of 1931 by Brazil’s president. Since then, the Christ the Redeemer Statue has been visited by people all over the world, including popes, royalty, and presidents. The 37 ton train will take 20 minutes to ascend. The statue not only represents the Catholic majority of Brazil, but also embodies the friendly and welcoming nature of Rio de Janeiro.
A small chapel was built at the base of the monument in 2006 to celebrate the statues 75th anniversary. This small chapel is large enough to hold weddings and baptisms. Recent additions included elevators and escalators, to ease the climb of the hundreds of steps ahead of the pilgrims and tourists.
The statue is located in the Tijuca National Park, the largest urban park in the world. You can access this site by bus or train, as well as a series of hiking trails. It is estimated that over 300,000 people visit every year, making it one of the most visited sites in South America. The proceeds from the electric train are given to Ibama, the Brazilian Institute for the Preservation of Nature.