The temple complex at Angkor Wat; the Mayan pyramids of the Yucatán; the ruins of Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain; Moscow's Kremlin Towers; the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco---certain works of monumental art and architecture imprint themselves on memory, rising above others as symbolic of the places that engendered them. Overlooking one of the great cities of the world, Christ the Redeemer belongs in their company.
A Global Treasure
In 2007, the statue "Christ the Redeemer" was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World along with the Taj Majal, the Great Wall of China, and the Colosseum in Rome. Atop Corcovado Mountain, at an elevation of 2300 feet, the statue depicts Jesus Christ with arms outstretched in a gesture of welcome overlooking Rio de Janeiro. It is the largest art déco sculpture in the world, notes Copacabana.info, an online source of information about Rio de Janeiro.
Comparable to the Eiffel Tower, a symbol of French national pride, or the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom, Christ the Redeemer may be seen as expressing acceptance of all people regardless of ethnic differences. Brought to Brazil by the Portuguese who settled there in the sixteenth century, Catholicism promised salvation to all. In fact, Brazil has exhibited an extraordinary degree of tolerance for ethnic differences and intermingling among its various ethnic groups, notes Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez in his book "Latinoamérica."
Built between 1926 and 1931 with funds raised from donations, Christ the Redeemer was inaugurated on the day of Our Lady of Aparecida, October 12, 1931, by then President of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas, and Cardinal Dom Sebastião Leme, states Maps of the World, an online source of travel information. Collaborating with Paul Landowski, a French sculptor of Polish ancestry, the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue and directed its construction.
At its inauguration ceremony, the statue was to be illuminated by electric lights switched on by Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi from his yacht in Naples, according to Destination 360, an online travel guide. But poor weather conditions interfered with the signal strength, compelling workers at Corcovado to turn the lights on manually.
A 2.4 mile railway (3.8 kilometres) facilitates access to Christ the Redeemer, notes Sacred Destinations, an online source of travel information. The railway can bring 360 passengers per hour to the statue, according to Destination 360. Leaving the base of the mountain every half hour, the trip takes approximately 20 minutes. From the train terminal, 222 steps lead up to the statue---an ascent eased by escalators and elevators for those wishing to skip the climb. At an elevation of over 2,000 feet, the site of the statue offers magnificent views of Rio de Janeiro, indicates Sacred Destinations.