Christ the Redeemer in Rio, Brazil

Often in the cloud, the statue that was constructed between 1922 and 1931, stands 700 meters above sea level on Corcovado Mountain and is another 30 metres tall, is an impressive sight from the sea as the sun drops behind it. It was built to commemorate the end of slavery.

Heitor da Silva Costa won the competition organised by the Catholic Church for the construction of the monumental Christ the Redeemer statue, the Monumento Cristo Redentor on Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. He was a Brazilian civil engineer. However, the design which he won with, is not what is there. His vision saw Christ with a globe in one hand and a cross in the other. Engineering ability and the team’s joint vision changed it to an impressive visual statement with the arms spread out wide.

Paul Maximilien Landowski was a French monument sculptor of Polish descent who designed Christ’s hands for the statue which spans 28 metres, and he aided Leonida with some aspects of the head.

Gheorghe Leonida joined the team in 1922. He was a Romanian sculptor, and became famous for creating the head.

Albert Irénée Caquot designed the internal structure. He is an expert in reinforced concrete engineering. This was one of the two statues he designed that shot him to fame. He was considered the “best living French engineer” for half a century. He received the “Croix de Guerre 1914–1918” and was Grand-Croix of the Légion d’Honneur. In 1962, he was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal. He was a member of the French Academy of Sciences from 1934 until his death in 1976.

To this day the Vatican still receives over 2% of its annual income from Brazil, and there is no discount for non-Brazilian nationals over the age of seventy. Whilst senior citizens are helped with queuing in Brazil, that relief is hard to enforce here as the queues can be exceptionally long and contain many older citizens.

It was voted as one of the new seven wonders of the world and is a major contributor to making Rio one of the most visited cities in the Southern hemisphere. It gets busy.

A few tips should be noted.

  • The independent tours from the cruise terminal by local companies may be cheaper, but you must transfer to local small coaches and purchase an entry ticket near the top.
  • These buses make you wait on seats in the terminal until enough customers fill a coach. That is normal in many places in the world. But, if your coach is split with others more passionate about the statue, you can be made to wait until their return at the coach station. Ensure everyone understands the return time.
  • The mornings as cruise guests flock there are the busiest, go in the afternoon to have a totally different experience.
  • Don’t go in cloud.

Here is a little history. Vincentian priest Pedro Maria Boss first suggested placing a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado in the mid-1850s. Emperor Pedro II from Portugal decided to stay and rule Brazil and wanted a statue of his daughter Princess Isabel built to commemorate the end of slavery. He left his daughter, the Princess Regent running Queluz Palace in Portugal. The Palace near Lisbon was attacked by his brother who felt he should have power, and Pedro had to return and fight to reinstate his daughter. She refused the statue and in 1888 stated that the statue be that of Christ the true redeemer of men (meaning all sexes/everybody).

The Catholic Circle of Rio made a proposal for the statue on the mountain in 1920 and started to seek out donations. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931. Most of the cost which was estimated to be worth the equivalent of $3,800,000 in 2021, was met by Brazilian Catholics. The monument opened on October 12, 1931.

It was hit by lightning on February 10, 2008, causing damage to the fingers, head, and eyebrows. Vandals attacked the statue during renovation in 2010, spraying paint along the arm. The statue did have lightning rods in, but new ones were added during the reconstruction which took over 100 workers and around 60,000 blocks of stone from the original quarry. It was unveiled for the 2010 FIFA world cup and was floodlit yellow and green during the tournament.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian of Rio was designed by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca in a modern style based, like the Liverpool Cathedral. It is from the Mayan temple theme. Built between 1964 and 1979 it replaced as the seat of the Archdiocese a series of churches in Rio that had served as cathedrals since 1676. It seats 20,000 people and has wonderful acoustics.