Christ the Redeemer is the most iconic landmark in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ with arms spread, overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro from the Corcovado Moutain.
The statue itself is 30 meters (98 ft) high, excluding its 8-meter (26 ft) pedestal. The arms stretch 28 meters (92 ft) wide.
It’s not just a statue. It’s a symbol for millions of Christians worldwide and is considered one of the most important cultural symbols in all of Brazil.
Let’s take a closer look at all the facts about Christ the Redeemer so you can learn everything about this famous statue.
1. The original proposal
The original proposal for a monumental landmark was first proposed by a priest named Pedro Maria Boss. This happened way back in 1850.
The proposed location for the landmark was mount Corcovado. This literally translates to “Mount Hunchback” from Portuguese.
If you look at the mountain, you can see why it got this name.
His idea was to honor Princess Isabel. She was the regent of Brazil and the daughter of Emperor Pedro II.
The project was dismissed.
2. Why was the Christ the Redeemer statue built?
In 1889, Brazil was transformed into a republic. This means that the state and the church were separated from each other.
Catholic activists had witnessed a sense of “godlessness” in society during the first period of the 20th century. They wanted to do something about it.
The second proposal, which would become the Christ the Redeemer statue, was submitted back in 1920.
The statue of Christ with open arms was chosen as a symbol of Christ protecting the city of Rio de Janeiro.
3. Construction was a huge task
And not just that.
It’s estimated that the building of the statue cost around $250,000, which is the equivalent of over $3.5 million today.
The design was created by local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, and French sculptor Paul Landowski actually created it.
Construction started back in 1922 and it took 9(!) years to finish the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
4. It’s an international building
The statue is made with reinforced concrete instead of steel. This makes the cross-shaped statue a lot stronger.
The outer layer consists out of 6 million tiles of soapstone, which are known for their longevity.
The main sculptor was French, his assistant was Romanian, the concrete used was imported from Limhamn in Sweden and Italian lights were supposed to light it up during the opening ceremony.
Better yet, the statue wasn’t even created in Brazil and merely shipped to Rio de Janeiro.
It’s fair to say that Christ the Redeemer isn’t just a Brazilian statue, it’s a global statue simply located in Brazil.
5. The initial proposal was different
Christ on top of the Corcovado Moutain with arms wide open overlooking and protecting Rio de Janeiro.
It’s an iconic sight that just about everybody in the world knows. The original proposal for the statue was a bit different though.
Instead of depicting Christ with open arms, in the original proposal, Christ held a globe in one hand and a cross in the other.
It wasn’t received too well, and people started calling it “Christ with a ball.”
Heitor da Silva Costa, the designer of the Christ the Redeemer statue, started all over and designed the statue with open arms as we know it today.
6. Christ the Redeemer is huge
The statue is about 98 feet (30 meters( high and this doesn’t include the 26 feet (8-meter) pedestal it stands on.
It also weighs a colossal 635 metric tons, which is the equivalent of 625 long, 700 short tons.
There are only a few statues of Christ in the world that are taller, including “Christ the King” in Poland and the “Crist de la Concordia” in Bolivia.
What truly makes the Christ the Redeemer statue unique is its location. It stands on a 700-meter peak of the Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park.
7. The largest statue in the world
Didn’t we just say that there are at least 2 more statues of Christ that are larger than Christ the Redeemer?
That’s correct. However, Christ the Redeemer is actually the largest art-deco statue in the world.
Art-deco is a style of design and architecture that was first used in France just before the first world war.
It has since then spread all across the world and the Christ the Redeemer statue is made in the art-deco style (the sculptor was French, remember?)
8. Christ the Redeemer struck by lightning
Its location on top of the mountain makes Christ the Redeemer very prone to lightning strikes.
Back in 2014, a serious storm passed through Rio de Janeiro and the lightning strikes actually caused damage.
Both the thumb and the middle finger were reportedly chipped.
Luckily, the statue is used to it as it gets struck by lightning 6 times a year on average.
9. A darker Christ the Redeemer?
Soapstone has been chosen for the statue’s outer layer. This gives that statue its light color.
Frequent renovations are needed because of the fierce winds and resulting erosion the statue faces.
There’s just one problem now. The quarry near the city of Ouro Preto where the original soapstone came from is running dry. The replacement tiles look a lot darker than the original white ones.
Will Christ the redeemer look much darker in the future?
Many people believe so.
11. Hidden messages
Over 6 million soapstone tiles are forming the outer layer of Christ the Redeemer.
These tiles are 3cm x 3cm x 4cm in size, and 5mm thick.
What’s more important is that the volunteers who helped to glue the tiles onto the statue wrote messages on them.
Essentially, the Christ the Redeemer statue is covered with hundreds, if not thousands of hidden messages and prayers of the people that helped to create it.
12. Huge maintenance costs
In 1980, the first major renovation of Christ the Redeemer was done in preparation for a visit by Pope John Paul II.
Many other restorations have taken place, the biggest one in 2010. This renovation alone cost about $4 million, involved more than 100 people and over 60,000 pieces of stone were replaced.
But that’s not all.
A yearly budget of about $1.5 million is needed to maintain the statue and the 30 employees that work in the park it’s located in.
13. Vandals committed a national crime
During the major renovations of 2010, vandals managed to get access to the site and sprayed graffiti on the statue.
They covered the chest and arms with slogans related to gang and criminal activity in Rio.
Texts included: “When the cat’s away, the rats will play.”
The Mayor of Rio took this incident seriously and referred to the incident as “a crime against the nation,” and assured the perpetrators would be put in jail.
This kind of emphasizes the status of the statue of Christ the Redeemer as a symbol, not just for Rio but for all of Brazil.
14. A room with a view
Here’s another interesting one in our list of Facts About Christ The Redeemer.
Want to rent an apartment in Rio de Janeiro?
The price you’ll pay will depend on whether or not you have a view of Christ the redeemer or not.
Apartments or houses with a view will cost you a lot more than those without.
15. No more steps are needed
Up until 2003, to get a glimpse of Christ the Redeemer up close, you needed to be quite fit.
The final part before actually reaching the statue had to be done by a total of 220 steps.
Luckily, from now on you can use an escalator to go directly to the top.
Do you still feel like doing some exercise?
The steps are obviously still available!
16. Huge tourist attraction
The Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
It’s visited by nearly 2 million people every year, and there are times when over 15,000 people visit the statue in a single day.
17. A new wonder of the world
In 2007, over 100 million people voted on which landmarks should make the list of 7 new wonders of the world.
Christ the Redeemer made the list.
The full list of monuments that made the list of 7 new wonders of the world include:
Of the 7 new wonders of the world, Christ the Redeemer is the most recently built monument.