on November 2, 2009
Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro. The statue stands 40 metres (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 metres pedestal, and 30 metres wide. It weighs 635 tons, and is located at the peak of the 700 metres Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. It is a truly magnificent sight and the trip here, including the train ride, is my top experience in the city. At night, the statue is floodlit and is visible from almost every part of the city.The idea for erecting 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 completely dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a Republic, with laws mandating the separation of church and state. The second proposal for a large landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The group organised an event called Monument Week to attract designs, donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms was chosen as the winner.After much consideration it was decided to build the structure out of reinforced concrete with an outer layer of soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931. It has been a major attraction and the symbol of Rio ever since. In 2007, Christ the Redeemer was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a list compiled by the Swiss-based The New Open World Corporation. You can drive to the top of the mountain but the best way to get to the statue is by the Corcovado train. This was the first electrified Brazilian railroad. Inaugurated in 1884, it’s much older than the monument of Christ and was used to carry the parts of the statue to be mounted at the top of the hill. The train operates from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, with departures at every half-hour. Trip duration is around 20 minutes. The view from the train was alluring, giving us a keen anticipation of what was to come. The best views are obtained from the right side of the carriage.The views from the top were just spectacular. The Redeemer’s gaze is directed at Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf) while slightly to the right is the great Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, Jardim Botanico and Ipanema. The statue’s left arm points to the North Zone of the city with the Maracana football stadium and the international airport clearly visible. Fortunately it was a bright sunny day and we could even see the Serra dos Orgaos mountain range in the distance.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009