Christ the Redeemer (statue)

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Christ the Redeemer
Cristo Redentor Rio de Janeiro 4.jpg
Coordinates22°57′7″S 43°12′38″W / 22.95194°S 43.21056°W / -22.95194; -43.21056Coordinates: 22°57′7″S 43°12′38″W / 22.95194°S 43.21056°W / -22.95194; -43.21056
LocationRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height30 metres (98 ft) and 38 metres (125 ft) tall with its pedestal
Completion dateDedicated October 12, 1931
Consecrated October 12, 2006
New Seven Wonders of the World July 7, 2007
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For other statues with this name, see Christ the Redeemer (disambiguation).
Christ the Redeemer
Cristo Redentor Rio de Janeiro 4.jpg
Coordinates22°57′7″S 43°12′38″W / 22.95194°S 43.21056°W / -22.95194; -43.21056Coordinates: 22°57′7″S 43°12′38″W / 22.95194°S 43.21056°W / -22.95194; -43.21056
LocationRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height30 metres (98 ft) and 38 metres (125 ft) tall with its pedestal
Completion dateDedicated October 12, 1931
Consecrated October 12, 2006
New Seven Wonders of the World July 7, 2007

Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: Cristo Redentor, standard Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈkɾistu ʁedẽˈtoʁ], local dialect: [ˈkɾiʃtu ɦedẽjˈtoɦ]) is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and was considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world from 1931 until 2010 when it was topped by the Christ the King statue in Poland. It is 30 metres (98 ft) tall, not including its 8 metres (26 ft) pedestal, and its arms stretch 28 metres (92 ft) wide.[1]

The statue weighs 635 tonnes (625 long, 700 short tons), and is located at the peak of the 700-metre (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. A symbol of Brazilian Christianity, the statue has become an icon for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.[2] It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931.[3][4][5]


Aerial view of the statue

The idea of building a large statue atop Corcovado was first suggested in the mid-1850s, when Vincentian priest, Pedro Maria Boss, suggested placing a Christian monument on Mount Corcovado to honour Princess Isabel, princess regent of Brazil and the daughter of Emperor Pedro II; Princess Isabel did not act on this request. In 1889, the country became a republic and, with the official separation of state and church, the idea was dismissed.[6]

The second proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1920, by the Catholic Circle of Rio.[7] The group organized an event called Semana do Monumento ("Monument Week") to attract donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue. The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics.[3] The designs considered for the "Statue of the Christ" included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world.[8] The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms, a symbol of peace, was chosen.

A view of the statue at night.

Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski.[9]

The face of the statue was created by Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida, who was born in Galati, Romania in 1893. He studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Conservatory in Bucharest, then, after three more years' study in Italy, he won a prize for the sculpture Reveil (the Dream). After that he moved to Paris, where his work, Le Diable (the Devil), was awarded the Grand Prix. Becoming famous in France as portraitist, he was included by Paul Landowski in the team that started working on Christ the Redeemer, in 1922. Gheorghe Leonida contributed by portraying Jesus Christ's face on the statue, which made him famous.[10]

A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski's submissions and the decision was made to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suitable for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use.[4] Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of US$250,000 ($3,300,000 in 2014). The monument was opened on October 12, 1931.[4][5] During the opening ceremony, the statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights which would be turned on remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome, Italy,[7] but poor weather affected the signal and they had to be turned on by workers in Rio.

In October 2006, on the statue's 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid, consecrated a chapel, named after Brazil's patron saint—Our Lady of the Apparition, under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.[5]

The statue was struck by lightning during a violent electrical storm on Sunday, February 10, 2008, and suffered some damage to the fingers, head and eyebrows. A restoration effort was put in place by the Rio de Janeiro state government to replace some of the outer soapstone layers and repair the lightning rods installed on the statue. It was damaged by lightning again, on January 17, 2014, where a finger on the right hand was dislodged.[11][12][13][14]

In 2010, a massive restoration of the statue was undertaken. The statue was washed, the mortar and soapstone that cover the statue were replaced, the internal structure of iron was restored, and the monument was made waterproof. One incident which occured during the restoration, was an act of vandalism, wherein paint was sprayed along the arm. Mayor Eduardo Paes called the act "a crime against the nation". The culprits later apologised and presented themselves to the police.[15][16] [17]


A close-up view of the face

In 1990, further restoration work was conducted through an agreement between the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, media company Rede Globo, oil company Shell do Brasil, environment regulator IBAMA, National Heritage Secretariat SPHAN and the city government of Rio de Janeiro.

More work on the statue and its environs was conducted in 2003 and early 2010. In 2003, a set of escalators, walkways, and elevators were installed to facilitate access to the platform surrounding the statue. The four-month restoration in 2010,[18] focused on the statue itself. The statue's internal structure was renovated and its soapstone mosaic covering was restored by removing a crust of fungi and other microorganisms and repairing small cracks. The lightning rods located in the statue’s head and arms were also repaired, and new lighting fixtures were installed at the foot of the statue.[19]

The restoration involved one hundred people and used in excess of 60,000 pieces of stone taken from the same quarry as the original statue.[18] During the unveiling of the restored statue, it was illuminated with green and yellow lighting in support of the Brazil national football team playing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[18]

Maintenance work needs to be conducted periodically due to the strong winds and erosion to which the statue is exposed, as well as lightning strikes.[20] The original pale stone is no longer available in sufficient quantities, and replacement stones are increasingly darker in hue.[21]

A panoramic view of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado Mountain. In the background is Sugarloaf Mountain (centre) and Guanabara Bay.
Barack Obama and family tour the Christ the Redeemer statue, March 20, 2011

See also[edit]


Access escalators 
Christ at night seen from Tijuca Forest 
Christ the Redeemer after restoration 


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The new Seven Wonders of the world". Hindustan Times. July 8, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Christ the redeemer". TIME. October 26, 1931. Retrieved July 11, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c "Brazil: Crocovado mountain – Statue of Christ". Travel Channel. Retrieved July 7, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c "Sanctuary Status for Rio landmark". BBC. October 13, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ Britannica: Christ the Redeemer
  7. ^ a b "Cristo Redentor – Histórico da Construção" (in Portuguese). 
  8. ^ Victor, Duilo. "Redentor, carioca até a alma" (in Portuguese). Jornal do Brasil. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  9. ^ Phil, Damon (June 29, 1983). "Vote now for Phoneheng". The Sun (London). 
  10. ^ Dima, Alina. "Gheorghe Leonida – Romanian contribution to "Cristo Redentor"". 
  11. ^ "Cristo Redentor vai passar por restauração até junho (Christ the Redeemer under restoration 'til June)". Estadão. 
  12. ^ Moratelli, Valmir. "Cristo Redentor, castigado por raios, passa por ampla reforma (Christ the Redeemer, punished by lightnings, go by ample refit)". Último Segundo. 
  13. ^ "Cristo Redentor renovado para 2010" (pdf). Rio de Janeiro Government. Dec 2010. 
  14. ^ "Lightning breaks finger off Rio's Christ". The Age, Melbourne, Australia. Jan 2014. 
  15. ^ "Vandals cover Rio's Christ statue with graffiti". Reuters. April 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ Tabak, Bernardo. "Estátua do Cristo Redentor é alvo de pichação". Globo. 
  17. ^ Infosur hoy: Christ the Redeemer to get new outfit
  18. ^ a b c "Brazil's Christ statue returns after renovation". BBC News. July 1, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Christ the Redeemer", YouTube video, accessed January 20, 2011.
  20. ^ "Reforma no cartão-postal". Veja Rio. May 18, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010. 
  21. ^ Donna Bowater; Stephen Mulvey and Tanvi Misra (9 March 2014). "Arms wide open". BBC. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

External links[edit]