Monday, March 7, 2011

Icon – The Statue of Christ the Redeemer

The first proposal to build a statue on the peak of Corcovado (the name means “hunchback” in Portuguese) goes all the way back to the mid-1850’s, but found no favor with the royal family of the time.

The second proposal, the one that ultimately resulted in what we have today, was made in 1921, by a group of religious laymen in Rio de Janeiro.

And it wasn’t a government project. It was financed by donations from Brazilian Catholics.

Initial proposals included a Christian cross and a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands.

Construction of the winning design, in reinforced concrete covered with soapstone, took nine years and cost the equivalent of $3,000,000 in today’s U.S. dollars.

You can get there by tram...

...or by road.

Inside there’s a metal stairway that offers access to every part of the interior, and there are viewing ports in the hands and the head, but they’ve long been closed to the public because of the strong winds that blow almost constantly at that height.

The breadth of the statue from fingertip to fingertip is 28 Meters (92 feet).

The granite peak on which it is built, is 710 meters (2,329 ft) above sea level.
The statue and the pedestal add an additional 110 meters (361 feet).

Here’s the view you get from the base of the statue.

You can still spot the head and extended arms from a distance of more than 20 kilometers at sea.

I have.

And hope that, someday, you’ll be as lucky.

Leighton - Monday


  1. Brings back memories of my trip to Brazil in 1979.

  2. Wow! I'd forgotten how truly beautiful it was the first time I saw it both from afar and the view from the base of the cristo statue. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Gorgeous, Leighton. One of the things I most want to see before I stop seeing things.

  4. Leighton, thank you for sending me a divine vision when I needed it most.

    It was a dark and stormy night. Yes, last night surely was. And as I sat into the second hour on an otherwise deserted eastern Pennsylvania runway with 200 pilgrims from Minneapolis diverted by prudent flying (and wind shear) from reaching New York City, all seemed lost. We were in Allentown.

    Billy Joel's lyrics kept running through my mind. But I heard a BEEP. It was your piece going live on my mobile and taking me away from all that, bringing me sunshine and light and ... you get the idea. Then I got home to NYC and forgot all about thanking you. Sorry. Now I think I'll go back to sleep, with visions of sugar plums...

  5. The first time I saw the statue it was a picture in a geography book when I was in the fourth grade. The pictures in the post are stunning.

    I think people would need to have some faith in Christ to drive that road up to the statue.


  6. Truly stunning. I would love to see it.

    A friend of mine who spent some time in Brazil more than a few years ago became obsessed by it. He said according to the weather it seemed to change moods. On gloriously sunny days it seemed as if Christ was casting his blessings over a city gilded by the sun. Yet during the rainy season, he thought it cast a disapproving shadow over a city gone to seed.

    Needless to say he was a lapsed catholic...

  7. Is there a city in the world that has a more beautiful prospect than Rio? I haven't seen one. Stunning photos. Thank you, Leighton, for bringing me back.

  8. You raise an interesting point: is the statue better seen from afar or from underneath staring up into his armpits? From 20 miles out at sea you don't see the favelas and you don't see the body-mad Cariocas piled like seals upon the beach. You also don't see the favelas or the Cariocas looking out from atop Corcovado but you do get a great view of Rio. Oh, were we supposed to look at the statue? Once you've had your picture taken up there, all you can think of is when is the next tram going back to the beaches.