Few things are more symbolic of Rio de Janeiro than the Christ the Redeemer statue, also known as the Christo Redentor. This statue of Jesus Christ is located on top of Mount Corcovado and is visible from almost anywhere in the city. So how tall is this awe-inspiring monument?
The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is 98 feet (30 meters) tall. It stands on a pedestal of 26 feet (8 meters) high which is not included in its height of 98 feet. The arms of the statue are 92 feet (28 meters) wide.
The art deco-style statue is more than just a giant figure in the middle of a famous city.  Keep reading to find out why this statue was built and why it’s such a cultural icon.
Why is Christ the Redeemer important?
The Christ the Redeemer statue is among the New Seven Wonders of the World. The statue is an iconic symbol of Christianity, not just in Brazil but all around the world. It features a Deco-style Jesus stretching out his arms, a gesture that represents peace.
Weighing 1,400 tons, Christ the Redeemer is the fifth largest Jesus statue in the world, the first being Christ the King in Poland. Yet, when the world recompiled the list of the wonders of the world , it was this statue that made the cut, beating larger statues of Jesus and other well-known landmarks like Lady Liberty.
There are several reasons why the statue is so iconic. The message that Christ the Redeemer sends out is one of peace, love, protection, acceptance, and togetherness. Even the statue’s architectural design and construction were a very collaborative effort.
The concrete for the foundation stone was shipped from as far as Sweden. The people that designed, engineered, and built the monument came from across the continent, including France and Romania. In the past, the professional cleaning company Karcher North America has been involved in cleaning the statue.
The site was declared a Catholic sanctuary in 2006, as part of the 75th-anniversary celebrations of the statue’s completion. A chapel was constructed and consecrated under the statue to conduct religious ceremonies, and it was named after the patron saint of Brazil — Our Lady of the Apparition.
When was the statue built and why?
Christ the Redeemer was constructed between 1922 and 1931. The statue’s foundation was laid on April 4th, 1922, and was officially opened on October 12th, 1931. The monument was built out of the efforts of the Catholic Circle of Rio to restore Christianity and peace in society.
Although the construction work started in 1922, the statue’s origins can be traced back to the nineteenth century. As Mount Corcovado itself is an important symbol of Brazil and is visible from great distances in Rio de Janeiro, several efforts were made to build a monument on the mountain.
Among these efforts was the idea of a homage to Princess Isabel, Imperial Princess of Brazil. The Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss suggested a monument on the mountain that would be representative of Christianity. The idea never came to fruition because Brazil became a Republic at the time, leading to a separation of the church and the state.
In 1920, seeing a lack of faith and a sense of “godlessness” in society, the Catholic Circle of Rio organized a “Monument Week” known as the Semana do Monumento. Donations were collected from thousands of Brazilians, especially Brazilian Catholics, who also signed a petition to construct a Christian statue on Mount Corcovado. At the time, there was no particular design of what the figure would look like.
Shortly after that, there was a competition to attract designs of the statue. Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa’s designs and sketches were a favorite. He proposed a design where Jesus would hold a cross and the world.
However, the current look was proposed by artist Carlos Oswald. French sculptor Paul Landowski oversaw the sculpture’s creation alongside Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida for nine years. The chapel at the base of the statue is called the Our Lady of Aparecida chapel and is a fully functional chapel.
The construction of Christ the Redeemer cost US $250,000, which is equivalent to $3,800,000 in 2021.
What is it like visiting Christ the Redeemer?
At the foot of the statue, tourists can enjoy a panoramic view of Rio’s beaches and urban environment. Most people find a spiritual connection in the statue’s presence, finding its grand stature humbling and protective.
Christ the Redeemer has become the hallmark attraction of modern-day Rio. Every year, over 2 million tourists from all over the world visit the site located in the heart of Tijuca National Park.  The experience is breathtaking and rewarding, but here are a few things one should expect when visiting the statue.
In Rio, tourists can get to Corcovado via public transportation like vans or electric trains. The train and van tickets include movement to and from the statue. The prices fluctuate during the year but generally average at $55 for adults and $30 for children between 6 and 11 years.
With over 5,500 daily visitors, expect to see crowds at the sculpture. The best time to take a visit there would be early morning or late afternoon. Weekends and holidays are significantly crowded, so anybody that dislikes crowds should probably avoid those days.
Visitors can get to the site by taxi, but it will take them only up to Estrada das Paineiras. After that, they will need to use a van. The vans pick up the tourists from Praca do Lido em Copacabana. There, tourists will find two pick-up spots – one at the Largo do Machado metro and the second at Città America in Barra da Tijuca.
Hiking is another option to get to the foot of the statue. However, it’s about a 3-hour hike that gets tougher as the mountain gets steeper. It would be best to carry along enough water and be in top physical condition when hiking to the top of the mountain.
Tourists used to climb more than 200 steps to get to the statue. But that isn’t the case anymore. Since 2003, visitors can get to the sculpture using escalators and elevators.
The inside of Christ the Redeemer contains reinforced concrete, while the outside is covered in soapstone.
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