Cristo Redentor – Christ the Redeemer
The 105 ft (32 m) high Christ statue on Corcovado mountain is – without a doubt – the landmark of the “cidade maravilhosa”, the magnificent and beautiful City of Rio de Janeiro. Anyone visiting Rio de Janeiro just needs to go see the gigantic “Christ the Redeemer” statue high above the city. Not only is the enormous statue worth a visit, but also the marvellous panorama view you get when being up here.
The redeemer statue is, above all, a religious monument and originally was to be inducted in 1922 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Brazil's independence from Portugal. Due to financial issues, unfortunately, the statue could only be made accessible to the public a decade later. On the occasion of the statue's 75th anniversary, it was declared an official Catholic pilgrimage site. Only a year later, it was listed as one of the seven modern-day Wonders of the World, next to impressive architectural achievements such as the Taj Mahal in India or the Chinese Wall.
The splendid Christ statue can be seen from practically any angle of Rio de Janeiro. One might think its height is already impressive, but that just wasn't enough for the architects of Rio de Janeiro's landmark no.1. The statue is built on a 26 ft (8 m) high base accommodating a chapel. To all Cariocas, Rio's inhabitants, the Christ statue remains a symbol for joy, love, creed and hope.
On top of Corcovado Mountain, which is part of the Tijuca National Park, the Christ statue protectively embraces the Brazilian metropolis with its open arms. Standing at the bottom of the statue and viewing the entire megacity is one of the most thrilling things to do when here.
Tram do Corcovado - Corcovado tram
Clearly, the most popular way to get on the peak of the mountain is by using the red Corcovado tram. A ride takes about 20 minutes one way, leading through the forests of the national park. Moving uphill, visitors receive plenty of information concerning the history of Brazil and the Tijuca forests. In its past, the “Tram do Corcovado” also took even the former Pope John Paul II, several head of states and kings on Corcovado Mountain. Each year, more than 600,000 people make their way to the top of the mountain and take a closer look at the Christ statue of Rio de Janeiro. You will love the fantastic view you have on top of Corcovado Mountain!
It was Catholic pater Pedro Maria Boss who came up with the idea to build a gigantic statue depicting Jesus Christ. He first presented his vision to the Royal Family in 1859. Despite of this, several more decades had to pass before the project could be finally initiated. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Brazil's independence, it was eventually decided to build the statue. The first stone was laid on 4 April 1922.
First sketches depicted the Christ figure with a cross in his left hand while a globe was held by his right hand. It is said that the Cariocas initially thought of the globe as football – an imagination frowned by the church. Architect Heitor da Silva Costa, engineer Albert Caquot and sculptor Paul Landowski were the ones in charge to create the statue as it stands today. The construction work on the Corcovado took place in the period between 1926 and 1931. Luckily, the red tram already existed allowing all construction materials to be easily transported uphill. Miraculously, no fatal accidents occurred during the entire construction period which was regarded as heavenly omen and divine approval for the statue.
Technically, the statue is made of a solid reinforced concrete construction coated with a weather-proof layer of soapstone. Since 2000, however, the statue has been subject to several renovations and technical improvements. A sophisticated lighting system was set up to marvellously illuminate the Christ statue every evening.
How to get there
If you wish to travel to the statue by car, be reminded that Rio de Janeiro is known for its traffic jams. Driving out of town on the Av. Epitacio Pessoa, you take the exit in the direction of Cosme/ Velho/ Botafogo/ Corcovado. You continue from here further on the R. Cosme Velho and follow the signs. You leave your car at the station, which is where you get on the tram. You can get uphill by using the Corcovado tram or one of the small buses that are provided on-site.
By public transport
You use the metro to get to Cosme Velho and continue by taking a bus at the “Lago do Machado” station, dropping you off at the Corcovado tram station.
If you'd rather go straight to Corcovado by bus, there are several options. You may, for instance, catch bus line 583 if you happen to be at the Copacabana, while bus lines 570, 583 and 584 pick you up in Ipanema.