One interesting fact to begin with...
The colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer is now considered to be among the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, along with the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, Petra in Jordan, Pyramid of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, Colosseum in Italy, and the Taj Mahal in India.
The statue of Christ the Redeemer is the crowning glory of Rio de Janeiro, and a matter of national pride for all Brazilians. This modern landmark was the brainchild of Vincentian priest, Pedro Maria Boss, who wanted to place a monument atop Mount Corcovado in the honor of Princess Isabel of Brazil in the 1850s. The plan never bore fruition, as Brazil soon became a republic.
It was in the year 1921 that the idea was revived by the Catholic Circle of Rio, and with the aid of public contributions, the statue of Christ the Redeemer was finally unveiled on October 12, 1931.
History of Christ the Redeemer
☆ The massive statue is 30 meters tall, not measuring its 8-meter pedestal, with the arms stretching 28 meters wide. It remains one of the largest Art Deco structures in the world. The weight of the structure is estimated to be around 635 tons.
☆ The monument is made of reinforced concrete topped by a mosaic of thousands of triangular soapstone tiles. It stands on a square stone pedestal base which is about 8 meters high. The entire edifice is on the summit of Mount Corcovado, a part of the Tijuca National Park. Mount Corcovado itself is about 710 meters above sea level, which gives the impression that the Redeemer is indeed looking over Rio.
☆ In 1882, Emperor Dom Pedro II inaugurated a 3,800-meter railway to the top of the mountain, which still runs today, and is the most popular means to reach the summit.
☆ In 1921, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro proposed that a statue of Christ be built on the summit of Mount Corcovado. Owing to its imposing height and stellar location, a monument built here would be visible from anywhere in Rio. Catholic citizens of Brazil took the cause forward and generated funds to finance the entire project.
☆ The foundation stone of the base was ceremonially laid on April 4, 1922―a day celebrating the centennial of Brazil's independence from Portugal.
☆ A competition was announced to encourage people to come up with a fitting design. Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa was chosen on the basis of his sketches of a figure of Christ holding a cross in his right hand and the world in his left. This design was amended by Brazilian artist Carlos Oswald, who instead suggested a standing pose with widespread arms in which Christ was himself the cross, his outstretched arms signifying the redemption of mankind at the crucifixion. French sculptor Paul Landowski was credited for creating the figure's head and hands.
☆ Da Silva Costa imagined the statue facing the rising sun, and he is known to have said, "The statue of the divine savior shall be the first image to emerge from the obscurity in which the earth is plunged and to receive the salute of the star of the day which, after surrounding it with its radiant luminosity, shall build at sunset around its head a halo fit for the Man-God,".
☆ On-site construction began in 1926, and took five years to complete. The stone used in construction was sourced from Sweden. Materials were taken to the top of the mountain using the railway. The total cost incurred in 1931 was approximately USD 250,000. Today that would roughly amount to USD 3.2 million.
☆ It was on October 12, 1931 that Christ the Redeemer was finally unveiled to the citizens of Rio and the rest of the world.
Restoration and Repairs
☆ The statue has undergone several restoration attempts to preserve its grandeur, as well as to protect it from the elements.
☆ The statue was struck by lightning on February 10, 2008, in what was one of Rio's perpetual storms. This resulted in damage to the statue's fingers, head, and eyebrows. A restoration effort saw the replacement of the outer soapstone layers and lightning rods being installed on the statue. It was struck by lightning once again on January 17, 2014―this time, a finger on the right hand was dislodged.
☆ The year 2010 saw a massive restoration drive being undertaken. The statue was cleaned, the mortar and soapstone layers were replaced, the internal structure of iron was restored, and the entire monument was made waterproof.
☆ An act of vandalism took place during this time, when a group sprayed a layer of paint along the arm. Rio de Janeiro's mayor, Eduardo Paes called the act "a crime against the nation". The culprits were soon rounded up and made to apologize.
☆ In 2003, escalators, walkways, and elevators were installed, much to the benefit of the frail and elderly to access the monument.
☆ Aquele abraço! translates to 'That Embrace!', and it refers to the message of the statue―that Christ loves all and will embrace all those who come to him.
☆ On the 75th anniversary of the statue, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro consecrated a small chapel at the foot of the statue to become a holy place to hold baptisms and religious weddings.
☆ During Brazil's famous pre-Lent Carnival, a street party called Christ's Armpit, or "Suvaco do Cristo", weaves its way beneath Mount Corcovado in tribute to the outstretched arms of the statue overhead.
☆ The Redeemer is visible in all its glory during the day from all over Rio, but it looks especially resplendent at night―the brightly lit, 38m-high statue is visible from nearly every part of the cidade maravilhosa.
☆ On special occasions it may be illuminated in colored light―for instance, lilac for Mother's Day, pink for a breast cancer charity or blue for an autism awareness day.