For a city whose inhabitants have a general reputation for being very good at sin, it seems strange that a giant statue of Christ should stand above the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but Rio is a complex and complicated city, so it is entirely fitting that Christ should keep a close eye on what is happening there.
Christ the Redeemer is perched on top of the peak of the 700-metre (2,300 ft) Corcavado, a mountain which forms part of the Tijuca Forest National Park. It is the world’s tallest art deco statue, standing 36.1 metres (119 ft) tall, with an arm span that is 19 metres (62 ft) wide. The statue stands on a pedestal that, whilst it looks solid, is actually hollow and contains a chapel large enough for 150 worshipers.
The Christ Redeemer statue was designed by Heitor da Silva Costa and carved by French sculptor Paul Landowski. The statue took five years to construct and was inaugurated on October 12, 1931.
Perhaps the best method to make your way up to the statue is on the historic cogwheel train. This train long precedes the statue as it was opened in 1884 by Emperor Pedro II. The cogwheel train still runs reasonably efficiently, particularly as it was repaired after the Corcovado was ravaged by rains early in 2010. From the train you can truly appreciate just how steep ride through the Tijuca Forest is. Sometimes you each get to enjoy the occasional treat of samba groups playing on the train.
On a good day, the view from the top of the Corcovado is really quite stunning, particularly as you get enjoy panoramic views of Sugarloaf Mountain, and Rio’s famous beaches including Botafogo, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. In the distance beyond the impressive Guanabara Bay, are great vistas of other mountains in Rio de Janeiro State.
The outstretched arms of the Christ represent peace, and the statue has become an instantly recognisable icon of Rio de Janeiro.
Standing beneath the statue you can truly appreciate just what a giant undertaking its construction was. From a perspective looking up from near the pedestal, the head seems to soar high into the sky, and even with the best periphery vision, it is impossible to take in the full scan of the arms.
The chapel beneath the statue has been consecrated, and it is a popular place in which to hold both baptisms and weddings.