When visiting Rio de Janeiro there are a few things that are on everyone’s to-do list. You have the Sugarloaf Mountain, you have Copacabana beach, maybe the colored Stairs of Selarón. But without a doubt, a visit to Christ the Redeemer is number one on most lists.
Since the world famous statue was chosen as one of the seven new wonders of the world, the popularity of the monument — 2 million visitors per year — seems more than fair. But a visit to the statue is not complete without knowing at least a little bit of the history. So here we are, some pretty unknown facts about the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Initially, it was planned for the statue to have a cross in his left hand and a globe of the world in his right hand. But after fierce criticism in the media, the statue was redesigned to the current famous version the world has come to love. The body of the monument was constructed in Brazil, almost like a building. But the head and the arms were made of reinforced concrete in France, by sculptor Paul Landowski with some help of a Romanian artist. They were shipped to Brazil in 58 separate parts, 50 for the head and 8 for the arms. Once in Brazil they were put together and applied to the statue. Because of the altitude where the monument was built, it was projected to resist wind speed up to 250 kilometers an hour. This means Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro would be able to weather even strong hurricane winds. The laying of the first stone was on April 4 in 1922 and it would take 9,5 years to finish the construction.
In the middle of the chest of the monument, there is a little heart. It measures 1.3 meters and is the only part of the Christ the Redeemer that was projected towards the inside of the statue. Two of the most important engineers of the project, Heitor Levy and Pedro Fernandes Viana, placed a parchment inside a little box of glass with the family tree of both families as a demonstration of faith and gratitude.
The Christ has a height of 38 meters, the statue has 30 meters and the pedestal has 8 meters. This equals a building of more or less thirteen floors. Since it was built on top of the 710-meter high Corcovado Mountain, its greatness is seen from the most parts of Rio de Janeiro. Though the statue is one of the tallest in the world, there are three other statues of the Christ higher than the one in Rio – located in Vietnam, Poland and Bolivia. In 2007 the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro was chosen out of 21 finalists as one of the seven new wonders of the world.
The idea was to build the statue for the 100-year celebration of the Brazilian independence. Even though Brazil is the biggest Catholic country in the world, the State and Church were separated. Then it is pretty amazing that such a big and important monument has such a religious meaning. Lots of locals think of the monument less in religious and more in a liberal way, as a warm welcome — with open arms — for all the people visiting the city.
The cost to build the statue in current value would be around 2,5 million euros. Compare this to the Statue of Liberty, that had a cost 24 times higher, and the Christ turns out to be quite a cheap project. All the money came from donations made by Brazilians. Stories about the Christ being a gift from some country are not true. The idea came from Brazilians and it was the Brazilians, mostly the locals from Rio de Janeiro, who paid for it.
The monument, which is made of concrete, is covered with millions of little tiles of soapstone. Temperature variations and the salt of the ocean almost do not influence this type of stone. It remains a soft rock. The rock was crushed into little pieces and then applied on all parts of the statue, creating a gigantic mosaic. It is said that the workers who prepared the little stones, wrote messages and the names of their families on the backside of them. Which means the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is full of hidden messages.
The Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro may be big and may be one of a kind, it’s not untouchable. Once in a while, around three to four times per year, lightning hits the statue. Normally this doesn’t bring much trouble, since there are little lightning rods all over his head, shoulders and arms, But in 2014 the monument was hit twice in a month, two fingers and the head were damaged. It took more than four months to repair the damage. The statue has regular restorations, to fix cracks and water damage. The last big one in 2010 and the next one planned for 2020.
Together with the opening of the monument, there was illumination installed to light up the Christ in the dark. With a clear view from the port of Rio de Janeiro, a sailor man wanted to leave his ship to search for drinks and women in the port district. Just when he stepped outside all of a sudden he saw Jesus appear up in the clouds. With no idea of what was going on at the top of the mountain, he was in shock of this vision. He turned around, went back to the ship, called the father and made his confessions. According to the legend, that shows how big of an impact the whole construction of the statue had, he then never touched alcohol anymore. Though nothing is said about women.