Christ the Redeemer (statue)

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Christ the Redeemer
Cristo Redentor Rio de Janeiro 4.jpg
Coordinates 22°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
Location Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Type statue
Height 30 metres (98 ft)
Completion date Dedicated 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] It 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 Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss requested financing from Princess Isabel to build a large religious monument. Princess Isabel did not think much of the idea and it was dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a republic with laws mandating the separation of church and state.[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 the Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida, born in Galaţi, in 1892. He studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Conservatory in Bucharest, than he continued his studies for three years in Italy where he gained also a prize with his sculpture “Reveil” (the Dream). Gheorghe Leonida lived then in Paris where his work “Le Diable” (the Devil) was awarded the Grand Prize. Becoming famous in France as portraitist, he was included by Paul Landowski in the team that started working at the gigantic statue from Rio de Janeiro in 1922. Gheorghe Leonida contributed to portraying Jesus Christ’s face, 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.[6] 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] The statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome,[7] but poor weather affected the signal and it had to be lit by workers in Rio.[6]

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

Christ the Redeemer

The statue was struck by lightning during a violent electrical storm on Sunday, February 10, 2008, and suffered some damage on 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 again damaged by lightning on Thursday, January 17, 2014, where a finger on the right hand was dislodged.[11][12][13][14]

On April 15, 2010, graffiti was sprayed on the statue's head and right arm. Mayor Eduardo Paes called the act "a crime against the nation" and vowed to jail the vandals, even offering a reward of R$ 10,000 for any information that might lead to an arrest.[15][16] The Military Police eventually identified house painter Paulo Souza dos Santos as the suspect of the act of vandalism.


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,[17] carried out by mining company Vale in partnership with the Archdiocese,[citation needed] 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.[18]

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.[17] 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.[17]

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.[19] The original pale stone is no longer available in sufficient quantities, and replacement stones are increasingly darker in hue.[20]

In popular culture[edit]

A panoramic view of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado Mountain. In the background is Sugarloaf Mountain (centre) and Guanabara Bay.

Due to its status as a highly recognizable landmark associated with Rio and with Brazil generally, it has appeared in various popular cultural works:

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c "O Dia Online – Cristo Redentor". 
  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. ^ a b c "Brazil's Christ statue returns after renovation". BBC News. July 1, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Christ the Redeemer", YouTube video, accessed January 20, 2011.
  19. ^ "Reforma no cartão-postal". Veja Rio. May 18, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010. 
  20. ^ Donna Bowater; Stephen Mulvey and Tanvi Misra (9 March 2014). "Arms wide open". News Special. BBC. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

External links[edit]