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Parque Nacional da Tijuca, Alto da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Brazil

GPS: -22.951711522038, -43.210360271987

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Erected at the top of Corcovado Mountain at 720 metres above sea level, in the heart of the Tijuca Forest National Park, Christ the Redeemer is an obligatory stop on any stay in Rio de Janeiro. Its position overlooking the Brazilian city and its monumental dimensions make it one of the largest statues representing the Christ in the world. The location of the monument is not chosen by chance. From its position, the statue of Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor in Portuguese) is visible to the vast majority of the Cariocas, the inhabitants of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

At a height of 38 meters including its pedestal (30 meters without it), Christ the Redeemer quickly became the uncontested icon of the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro as well as the emblem of the nation. The statue alone symbolizes peace and Christianity in Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world. It was the Vincentian priest Pedro Maria Boss who unsuccessfully proposed to Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil, to build such a statue in the 1850s. And it was only in 1920, after the separation of Church and State, that a petition launched by the Catholic Circle of Rio led to the construction of Christ the Redeemer. The Art Deco style monument is the work of the Brazilian architect and engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and the French sculptor Paul Landowski, both assisted by the Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida and the French engineer Albert Caquot. The building project was launched in 1921 under the aegis of the Diocese of Rio, which wanted to consolidate the influence of the Catholic Church in the country and celebrate the centenary of Brazil’s independence (which was declared in 1822 from Portugal).

The statue of Christ the Redeemer was completed in 1931 thanks to donations from the Brazilian Catholic community (representing over 100 million faithful at the time) and financial support from the Vatican. With a wingspan of 28 metres, it takes the form of a cross and represents the Christ embracing all those who come to him. Classified as a historical monument in 1973, the statue is today one of the most visited places in Brazil (750,000 visitors per year). From its pedestal, Christ the Redeemer offers a fantastic view of the famous Guanabara Bay, the cariocas beaches and the urban centre of Rio de Janeiro.

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  • Brazil has about 130 million faithful out of a population of 208 million, 64% of whom are Catholics. Despite a downward trend in recent years combined with a strong increase in the evangelical movement, this country represents 15% of the world’s Catholicism.
  • During the installation of the statue, between 1926 and 1931, the architect in charge of the work (Heitor Levy) lived on top of Corcovado and used the pedestal as his office. After suffering a fall that could have been fatal, this man of Jewish faith decided to convert to Catholicism.
  • The structure of the statue consists mainly of reinforced concrete and steatite (a very soft rock) from Sweden. This choice is not insignificant because it allowed the construction cost of Christ the Redeemer to be reduced to a minimum. In the end, the amount was almost 25 times lower than that of the Statue of Liberty in New York (United States), which was built on a metal frame.
  • The height of the monument is equivalent to a 13-storey building with a total weight of nearly 1,200 tonnes. If Christ the Redeemer were to be shod, he would opt for a size of 530. His head is 3.75 metres high and his hands are 3.20 metres long. Little known is the fact that a small heart is affixed to the chest of the statue (symbolising adoration of the Sacred Heart) and triangular tesserae cover the outer surface of the monument to form a large mosaic (this was done to reinforce the statue’s waterproofing).
  • In January 2014, the statue of Christ the Redeemer lost half of its right thumb after a stormy episode consisting of several thousand lightning bolts (the lightning cable protecting the statue actually only stops at the wrists).
  • Christ the Redeemer turns 90 years old in October 2021 and will benefit from an extensive restoration program (analysis of the coating and the armature, replacement of defective parts and fight against infiltrations). This work will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team of 40 people (engineers, geologists, mountaineers, masons…) to make a study of the structure and to prevent possible degradation in the future.
  • Other monumental statues of Christ have sprung up around the world long after the original version of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Among them, we can mention the Cristo de la Concordia (Christ of Peace) completed in 1994 in Bolivia, the Pomnik Chrystusa Króla (Christ the King) inaugurated in 2010 in Poland or the Cristo del Pacífico (Christ of the Pacific) erected in 2011 in Peru. In this list, we can add the Monumento a la Virgen de la Paz (Virgin of Peace) built in 1983 in Venezuela (it is a colossal statue commemorating the Virgin Mary) and the Estátua de Santa Rita de Cássia (saint Rita of Cascia) achieved in Brazil in 2010.
  • The small Brazilian town of Encantado (State of Rio Grande do Sul) should soon celebrate the arrival of another giant statue representing Christ. Named Christ the Protector, it will rise to 43 metres in height (37 metres without the base) and will thus surpass its elder brother in Rio de Janeiro. This project is supposed to boost tourism activity in the region. It is led by the Association of Friends of Christ and funded by donations from the Christian community. The monument will contain an interior lift to a glass belvedere at the top.
  • Guanabara Bay, with more than a hundred islands, was discovered in January 1502 by the Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos. He mistakenly named it Rio de Janeiro (“January River”), thinking that it formed the mouth of a river.
  • Mount Corcovado was first appointed as “Pinaculo da Tentacao” (the “Pinnacle of Temptation”) in the 16th century by the Portuguese. A century later, the mountain was renamed Corcovado (the “hunchback”) because of its characteristic shape. According to Adon Peres (art historian), if Corcovado had not been chosen as the site for the statue of Christ the Redeemer, it could have been erected on top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
  • Make sure you have good weather conditions to get to the foot of the statue and enjoy the expanse of the landscape (preferably on a weekday if possible).
  • Once this has been checked, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance.
  • To reach the statue, you have the choice between climbing the 220 steps, taking a rack railway train dating back to 1885 (20 minutes of transport departing from Corcovado station), requesting the services of a van, preferring a taxi or opting for panoramic escalators and lifts.
  • The spectacular view over the centre of Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara Bay, the beaches of the Ipanema district, the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range and Maracanã Stadium; a statue with a religious vocation (embodying the crucifixion and the reception by Christ) which quickly became a public monument and a major tourist attraction in Brazil
  • The small chapel at the foot of the statue (dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Apparition) where marriages and baptisms are celebrated
  • The statue illuminated at night and admired below from the Marvellous City; the purity of the stone of the monument which is constantly exposed to the elements of nature (lightning, salinity, rain, pollution…)
  • The typical ride by rack railway (to be booked in advance) from the charming district of Cosme Velho; the fantastic panorama of Christ the Redeemer from the Sugarloaf Cable Car
  • A source of inspiration for many artists (painters, poets, singers…)
  • Hiking in the rainforest of the Tijuca National Park; the nearby attractions: Pedra da Gávea (842-metre high mountain), Vista Chinesa (lookout point), Mayrink Chapel (built in 1855), Mesa do Imperador (quiet place with a beautiful view) and Parque Lage (public park)
  • The carioca landscape, between sea, urban forest and mountains
  • The beaches below, including Copacabana and Ipanema
  • A site easily accessible by foot, train, bus or taxi at the gates of the city centre; a significantly different experience each day depending on the light, fog and clouds enveloping the city of Rio de Janeiro

Where to eat

  • Prana Vegetariano
    (exquisite vegetarian break)
  • Braz Pizzaria
    (great variety of pizzas)
  • Eleven Rio
    (gastronomic and refined)

Where to go out

  • Parque Lage
    (enchanting walks)
  • Mirante Dona Marta
    (the most beautiful view of Rio)
  • Museu Internacional de Arte...
    (creative and colourful museum)

Where to sleep

  • Solar do Cosme
    (pretty house)
  • Pouso Verde Bed and Breakfast
    (like at home)
  • Les Jardins de Rio
    (hotel with unusual decor)

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