The world renowned statue of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ is situated on the top of the mountain Corcovado, overlooking the famous Brazilian city of ‘Rio de Janeiro’! This statue is considered as the largest Art Deco statue in the world & was ranked as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders’ of the world in 2007!
This spectacular statue of ‘Jesus’ is 30 m (98 ft) in height & its arm stretches to the width of 28 meters (92 ft). It is erected on top of 8 meters (26 ft) tall podium & is nestled atop 700 meters (2300 ft) high Corcovado Mountain in the ‘Tijuca Forest National Park’! The statue weighs 635 tons & is made up of reinforced concrete & soapstone.
The statue has given Rio de Janeiro the unique identity over the past several years. It is considered as the symbol of peace & the pride of Brazil. The view of Christ standing on top of the hill simply pleases the eyesight & it becomes even more spectacular during the night as the statue gets illuminated with dazzling lights & the mountain it stands on gets disappeared in the dark; it makes an impression as if the Christ is hovering over the city keeping a generous eye over the people of Rio!
The History in Brief:-
The idea of building a statue on the Corcovado hill top was tossed up for the first time in mid-1850 when Vincentian priest– Pedro Maria Boss made a point of erecting a Christian sculpture atop Mt. Corcovado to commemorate the daughter of Emperor Pedro II & the princess regent of Brazil- Princess Isabel! However, the manifestation of the idea didn’t take place, firstly, due to the ignorance of the princess & later on because of the official separation of State from Church as Brazil became a republic country.
In 1920, the Catholic Circle of Rio proposed for a momentous statue atop the mountain & garnered the donations for the placement of the statue. Several designs were made to decide the appearance of the statue including a representation of the Catholic Cross, a monument of Christ holding the globe in hands & a podium suggesting the world. Out of several models, the design of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ with widespread arms was finalized!
Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa was appointed to design the statue. His team included a Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski who sculpted the statue & famous Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida who created the face of Christ. The work was started in 1922 & came to an end in 1931. The monument was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. The construction cost was equivalent to US $250,000 & the monument was constructed using reinforced concrete & soapstone was used for the facade of the statue.
On the 75th anniversary of the statue i.e. in October 2006, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid had consecrated a chapel under the statue. The chapel was named after Brazil’s patron saint, as ‘Our Lady of the Apparition’.
The mammoth statue of Christ was struck twice by lightning; firstly on February 10, 2008 when the fingers, head & eyebrows were severely damaged & after that, on January 17, 2014 when the finger of the right hand was extricated.
Renovation Post Installment: –
The splendid statue of ‘Christ the Redeemer’ has gone through various restorations schedules. The first extensive restoration was done in 1990 followed by more work in 2003 & in early 2010. Restoration in 2003 was focused on installing escalators, walkways & elevators in order to ease the access to the podium; whereas, in 2010, the statue itself was renovated from within as well as from outside as the layer of fungi & moss was uprooted from the soapstone cloak & the crevices were filled. The illumination provisions installed on the statue’s head & arms were replaced with new ones & fresh lighting arrangement was made at the foot of the statue which highlights it brilliantly on dark nights!
The statue periodically goes through the restoration regime due to its exposure to the gusty winds & attrition due to the frequent lightning strikes. The statue is acquiring the darker shade due to the scarcity of the original pale colored stone & the stones used for replacement are darker in shade.
This ultimate piece of architecture & the landmark of Rio is visited by myriad visitors from every corner of the globe, which more often than not, includes the famous faces as well. The statue saw the number of visitors surging remarkably during recent 2014 FIFA World cup hosted by Brazil.