Lower Prices than Cruise Line Higher Quality, Smaller Tours Money Back GuaranteeGuaranteed Return to Ship 24/7 Traveler Hotline 35,900+ Customer Reviews Customer Reviews4.7 / 5

What Makes Christ the Redeemer Statue Worth the Visit

High atop the city of Rio de Janeiro stands Christ the Redeemer — a cultural and symbolic icon and the pride of Brazilians for almost 90 years. Standing over 37m (124 ft) tall, Christ the Redeemer statue towers over Rio de Janeiro and can be seen from anywhere.

Recognized worldwide, there is no other statue or landmark that screams “Brazil!” louder than this one. More than 2 million visitors clamor to this architectural wonder each year, making it one of Rio’s top tourist attractions and a definite must-see while you are in the city.

What Makes Christ the Redeemer Statue Special?

In a word, everything.

For starters, the statue itself is massive: it stands 30 m tall (98 ft) on top of an 8m (26 ft) pedestal base of stone, with an arm span of 28m (92 feet), and a weight of about 635 tons — making it about 4.5 times as heavy as the Statue of Liberty (without her base). The statue appears as a superhuman figure to those up close and like a cross ascending into the heavens from those in the distance. Impressive!

Equally impressive is its location:  it rests at the peak of Mount Corcovado, a 710m tall (2,329 ft) mountain in the Tijuca forest, gazing out over Brazil’s largest port city.

Known as Cristo Redentor in Portuguese, the Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is a chameleon in terms of its meaning and significance to the viewer. The final version that you see today was ultimately chosen as a symbol of peace. Some see it as a symbol for Christianity while others see it as a sign against secularism. Many see it as a universal sign of welcome. Additional meanings include it being an emblem of protection or a divine societal blessing.

The famous statue has served as inspiration to many artists and songwriters, and has received notable visitors over the years including Princess Diana, Former U.S. President Barack Obama, and the Dalai Lama.

Finally, Christ the Redeemer is a visible reminder of the importance and power of teamwork and collaboration. From concept to design and construction, many hands, minds, and hearts went into this national treasure.

Why Was Christ the Redeemer Built?

A Christ-like statue was proposed by a local priest in the 1850s to honor Princess Isabel, Emperor Pedro II’s daughter and the then princess regent of Brazil, but the idea was later dismissed due to political concerns of the time. The concept was brought up again by the Catholic Circle of Rio in 1920 in response to what they saw as declining spiritual values; to them, the statue would help “reclaim Rio” for Christianity. It was largely funded by Brazilian Catholics and the Catholic Church at a cost of $250,000.

Once permission to build Christ the Redeemer was approved, local Brazilian engineer, Heitor da Silva Costa, won a contest to draw up the statue’s design. He worked in collaboration with Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald, French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski, and sculptor Gheorghe Leonida to create the final version you see today.

The project took 9 years and around 100 workers to complete the statue. Clay pieces were created by Landowski and Leonida in Europe and shipped over to Silva Costa, who oversaw the assembly on site. The statue’s pedestal base was created first, out of concrete ordered from Sweden, while the clay pieces were being formed.

Christ the Redeemer began as a scaffolding in human form on top of the pedestal base that was overlaid by steel mesh to reinforce the concrete; the clay pieces were then attached. Finally, 6 million triangular soapstone tiles were applied to the clay in a mosaic fashion. Christ the Redeemer’s clean lines and modern, streamlined look make it the second largest Art Deco statue in the world.

Nine Surprising Facts You Might Not Know About the Statue

Fact #1 – Christ the Redeemer took 9 years to build (1922-1931) and is the fourth tallest statue of Jesus Christ in the world after Christ the King in Poland, Cristo de la Concordia in Bolivia, and Brazilian newcomer Cristo Protetor in the small town of Encantado just south of Rio.

Fact #2 – Silva Costa originally floated the idea of the Jesus statue holding a globe in one hand and a cross in the other; Oswald was credited for suggesting a Jesus with open arms, as a gesture of peace.

Fact #3 – The statue is a literal lightning rod: thanks to its perch on the mountaintop, it is subject to several lightning strikes per year. A severe strike in February 2008 caused minor damage to the statue’s head, brows, and fingers; in January 2014 a strike detached one of the statue’s fingers.

Fact #4 – It was also a lightning rod for controversy. First, there were plagiarism concerns with the design due to its similarity to the Christ of the Andes statue bordering Argentina and Chile. Then the image rights were given to the Catholic church through the Public Act, which removed any image rights for Landowski. Lastly, the statue was protested by other religious communities, particularly Protestants, out of concern of forced evangelization as well the lack of separation of church and state.

Fact #5 – It is possible to walk inside the statue and access the arms and head of Christ. This is achieved by a set of 12 very fragile and narrow stairs to gain access to the head and to tunnels that run inside along the statue’s arms. Basically, these are used for maintenance and inspection; any other purpose would require being accompanied by an employee, for safety reasons. Also, since the statue is a sanctuary, you would need permission from the Bishop and the Guardian of the Sanctuary to climb inside.

Fact #6 – The statue was a victim of graffiti vandals in 2010, who spray painted on the statue’s arm.  The vandals later confessed after the act was declared “an atrocity against the nation.”

Fact #7 – Christ the Redeemer’s likeness was spoofed in a 1998 ad for Pirelli Tires; in the ad, Brazilian football star Ronaldo’s victory run transformed him into a jerseyed, outstretched arm pose mimicking that of the statue, with the wearing of Pirelli tread on the sole of one upraised foot. Needless to say, this caused a huge uproar from the Catholic Church in Brazil. In an ironic twist, Pirelli later financed restoration work on the statue in 2014.

Fact #8 – The statue requires routine repairs due to high winds (up to 250 km/hr) and salt corrosion that can easily damage the structure.

Fact #9 – On special occasions, Christ the Redeemer gets all gussied up in custom lighting, such as when it sported the national colors of the countries that competed in Rio during the 2014 World Cup.

How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Christ the Redeemer Statue

The best time to visit Christ the Redeemer is between September and October, as the area’s heat and humidity are at its lowest. Rio de Janeiro is frequently sunny, but it can get very cloudy or foggy on the mountain. Best to keep a watchful eye on the weather forecast.

Note that this attraction is the busiest around the Christmas holidays and during Carnivale. Visiting Rio’s Christ the Redeemer might not be the best choice for those who suffer from claustrophobia, agoraphobia, or use a wheelchair as the crowds can get pretty thick, making movement difficult.

Plan on visiting the statue first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon in an effort to avoid the heat and the crowds. Morning time is usually best for photos as there is less haze, it is easier to get closer to the statue and the city overlook, and the sun is rising directly on the statue’s face. The sun is directly behind the statue in the mid afternoon, which will hide its details; alternately, it is the perfect time to go if you want a photo of the statue in silhouette form.

Even though there are food concessions on site we recommend you bring some snacks and water with you so you can spend less time in line and more time enjoying the views.

How to Get There

If time is of the essence, plan on taking the small Cog train that can get you to the visitors center within 30 minutes. The train runs from Cosme Velho to the top of Corcovado mountain. Again, early morning is best as the lines for the train can get quite long.

If you have time and want some exercise and awesome views, consider hiking up the mountain on the hidden path behind the Parque Lage art school. The trek is about 1.5 hours long and has some steep sections. Beware of your surroundings, do not take a lot of cash or valuables with you, and go in groups as some sections have lacked security in recent years. Safety first!

The truly brave can take a car, van, taxi, or private rideshare; keep in mind that the trip is up steep, narrow streets, so not for the faint of heart.

What Else Can You Do in Rio de Janeiro?

Rio is similar to New York in that there is always something going on! Here is a shortlist of attractions and activities that are well worth your time:

Carnivale Parade at the Sambadrome — known the world’s biggest party, Carnivale is a days-long celebration around Ash Wednesday, a holy day observed by Catholics; as with the Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S., Carnivale is where people let loose and have one last hurrah before the start of Lent. The Sambadrome is home to the lively and colorful annual parade of Rio’s Samba Schools.

Nature lovers will appreciate Tijuca National Park, the world’s largest urban rainforest. Explore it in an open air Jeep as you roll through the lush foliage and admire the animals and waterfalls.

Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio’s other iconic landmark, can be viewed from Christ the Redeemer and provides breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views in its own right. Board the cable car and ride to the top for another birds-eye view of the area. Fact: this mountain was used for a battle scene in the James Bond movie Moonraker.

Experience the highlights of Montevideo with its Colonial style buildings, historic Port Market, and Independence Square. You can also tour the surrounding upscale neighborhoods and walk the famous Rambla.

The world renowned beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana are a popular draw for many Rio visitors who are fans of the hit song “The Girl From Ipanema,” and who enjoy Copacabana’s legendary beach bars and kiosks.

Art lovers will appreciate the National Museum of Fine Arts with its 29 galleries full of paintings, sculptures, and visiting exhibits. Over at the botanical gardens of Jardim Botanico one can check out the orchid house and grab a photo of the giant Amazonian water lilies. Night owls will revel in the nightlife in the Lapa District, a historic neighborhood with plenty of places to dance the night away.

Contact us today and get your passport ready to get up close to the statue of Christ the Redeemer and immerse yourself in the beauty and zest of Rio de Janeiro.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes