Travel, Wonders of the World

Cristo Redento Statue

Atop the Corcovado Mountain overlooking the glittering Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro stands the Christ the Redeemer statue (or Cristo Redento, as it is called in the native Portuguese). With arms wide open, the monument of Christ stands nearly 125 feet (38 meters) in height and houses a small chapel at the base where Catholic weddings and baptisms are often held. The original idea to erect a statue representing Catholicism on top of Corcovado came about in the 1850s, but was inevitably squashed in 1889 by Princess Isabel when Brazil became a republic and the separation of church and state became law. However, in 1921, the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro revisited the idea and began to fundraise in its support. The statue was inaugurated on October 12, 1932. Although there are several replicas of the Christ the Redeemer statue around the world, Rio de Janeiro’s Cristo Redento remains the tallest.

History of Christ the Redeemer

The idea of placing a large Christian monument atop Corcovado peak in Rio dates back to the 1850s, when a local Catholic priest requested funds from Princess Isabel to build one. The princess was not enthusiastic and the plan was scrapped entirely with the founding of the Republic of Brazil in 1889, which separated church and state.

In 1921, the Catholic Circle of Rio began to collect signatures and donations for a privately-funded Christian monument. Various designs were considered, including a large cross and a statue of Christ holding a globe, but ultimately an image of Christ with his arms wide open was chosen.

Construction began in 1922. The statue of Christ the Redeemer was designed by local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted from concrete and soapstone by Paul Landowski, a Frenchman. After nine years and a cost of $250,000, the statue opened to the public on October 12, 1931.

To celebrate Christ the Redeemer’s 75th anniversary in 2006, a chapel dedicated to the patron saint of Brazil (Nossa Senhora Aparecida) was built at the base. The statue was struck by lightning in February 2008 during a major electrical storm, but escaped any damage due to the insulating properties of soapstone.

What to See at Christ the Redeemer

Cristo Redentor depicts Christ with his arms spread wide in a welcoming gesture, representing his role as redeemer of the world. It stands 120 feet high including the pedestal and is 98 feet wide. Made of concrete and soapstone and sculpted in a modern style, it weighs a total of 635 tons.

Standing on a peak over 2,000 feet high, Christ the Redeemer is famed for its magnificent views over the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The small Chapel of Nossa Senhora Aparecida (2006) at the base of the statue hosts weddings, baptisms and Mass on Sundays. There is a cafe near the statue.

Getting There

Christ the Redeemer is located on Corcovado peak (710 m/2329 ft) in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro. The monument is accessible by road and a cog railway (3.8km), which provides fine views along the way. From the parking lot or train terminus, visitors have a choice of 220 steps or a system of elevators to reach the statue. The last train departs from Corcovado at about 6:15pm.