Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer is an art deco statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms high upon Corconado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Designed by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor de Silva Costa with French engineer Albert Caquot, Christ the Redeemer is 30 meters (98 ft.) tall standing on an 8 meter (26 ft.) pedestal.  With an arm span of 28 meters (92 ft.) Christ the Redeemer is one of the most recognizable symbols of Brazil around the world.  Built between 1922 and 1931, the statue weighs 635 metric tons and is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone.  Construction of the statue took nine years and cost US $250,000 ($3.3 million adjusted for 2015 dollars) and was officially opened on 12 October, 1931.

The Catholic Circle of Rio made the second and ultimately successful proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain in 1920.  The group organized an event called Semana do Monumento (Monument Week) in order to collect signatures of support and donations that would make the building possible.  The donations collected were primarily from Brazilian Catholics and the final design was chosen from a small list of Christian themed symbols.

Christ The Redeemer far in the distance

For the 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated the Our Lady of the Apparition chapel in the shadow of the Christ the Redeemer statue.  The addition of a chapel now allows one of the most scenic location for baptisms, weddings, and religious ceremonies.

Lightning has struck the statue several times and during a particularly strong thunderstorm in 2008 sufficient damage was caused to require government sanctioned restoration.  In 2010 a massive restoration project was undertaken and included replacing much of the exterior with new soapstone, repairing lightning rods, waterproofing, and cleaning years of soot, fungi, and bacteria.  After all this work, which took over a hundred people and 60,000 new pieces of soapstone, the statue struck by lightning again in 2014 causing a finger on the right hand to become dislodged.  The statue is increasingly becoming darker after each periodic repair because the original pale soapstone is no longer available.

Christ the Redeemer Facts

  • The statue is covered with more than 6 million stone tiles.
  • The inspiration for the statue was in response to “an advancing tide of godlessness”.
  • To celebrate the 75th anniversary in 2006, a small chapel was built in the base.
  • The statue became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World on July 7th, 2007.
  • The statue weighs approximately 635 tons.
  • Christ the Redeemer is only the 5th largest statue of Jesus.
  • All the stone used in restoration efforts came from the same quarry as the original stone but the light stone is no longer available and replacements are slightly darker.

Travel Tips

  • Plan on visiting Christ the Redeemer early.  Lines for the train can get quite long and they fill up quickly.  We recommend lining up by 8:00 (trains start at 8:30) in the morning which can sometimes be difficult if you’ve been out enjoying Rio’s nightlife.  Being early will also improve your photos since there will be fewer people mulling around.
  • Arriving early will also give you a chance to see the front of the statue with sun on its face.  If you are interested in getting a well-lit photo of the back of Jesus’ robe feel free to wait till mid-afternoon.
  • Do some walking.  Remember that this statue is on a mountain covered in forest and these particular mountains hold many species of monkeys including the adorable Golden Lion Tamarin.
  • Take some bottled water with you since anything bought near the statue is going to cost a little more than things bought near your hotel.  This is a recommendation we make for many walking trips but it will be worth its weight in gold after standing in the sun for a few hours.
  • Remember to take sun block and sunglasses.  There is often a bit of fog on the mountain but it burns off early and it can get quite bright and hot.  It is not uncommon for temperatures to reach 30-35°C (86-95°F), and sunburns can ruin the rest of your stay in Brazil.