With wide eyes looking out from a serene art-deco concrete and soapstone face, Cristo Redento stares out across the vast urban sprawl that is Rio de Janeiro. The statue faces Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay while keeping an eye on the golden sands of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
The 30 metre tall statue of Christ the Redeemer stands at the top of Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro. Its arms spread out, symbolically embracing the whole world; the statue is the 5th largest, of Jesus, in the world.
Otherwise known as Christ the Redeemer, this icon of a city and symbol of a country is considered one of the new wonders of the world. The panorama that the location affords is breathtaking for the two million people who make the trip up to the statue every year.
The idea of building a religious monument was first suggested, in the 1850s, to Princess Isabel of Spain by a Catholic priest, Father Pedro Maria Boss. It did not get very far. The statue idea came up again in the early twentieth century with several designs being put forth. The open-armed statue representing universal peace was chosen. The French-Polish sculptor Paul Londowski began sculpting it in 1922. It was completed in 1931 at the (then) cost of US $250,000 (equivalent to $3,200,000 in 2013).
In 2006, a chapel was built under the towering statue and its pedestal. It is dedicated to the patron saint of Brazil – Nossa Senhora Aparecida or "Our Lady of the Apparition".
The statue has been the target of nature and humans. In 2008 lightning struck it during an electrical storm. The head, fingers and eyebrows suffered damage. To repair it soapstone from the quarry where the original material was sourced was used. New lightning rods were installed.
Two years later Paulo Souza dos Santos, a house painter, took his trade a bit too far. He spray-painted graffiti on the statue’s head and right arm. He was arrested and convicted for his delinquent artistic ‘crime against the nation.’ Besides these two incidents, maintenance work needs to be regularly done because of the strong eroding winds to which the statue is subjected.
The statue has featured in several films including Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious and numerous video games. It was controversially blown up in the disaster movie 2012. It also has songs dedicated to it.
Views of the statue and from it are spectacular and almost otherworldly – especially on cloudy nights. The face of the city is one of the most amazing structures and landmarks of the world.