What is Christ the Redeemer?

Mary McMahon

Christ the Redeemer is a famous statue of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched located in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Almost everyone who has seen a wide-view photograph of Rio has seen this statue, since it towers over the city, almost as though it is standing guard. The statue has come to symbolize Rio de Janiero and Brazil in the eyes of many people; in films and television shows set in this famous Brazilian city, for example, establishing shots often include Christ the Redeemer so that the audience knows the action is taking place in Rio de Janiero.

The Christ the Redeemer statute is located in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janiero.
The Christ the Redeemer statute is located in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janiero.

The statue is located on Corcovado Mountain, situated in the midst of Tijuca Forest National Park. To reach it, people take a small railway up the mountain and then climb over 200 steps to Christ the Redeemer. The site also houses a chapel where people can pray and attend religious services, and sometimes weddings are held there as well.

Catholicism is highly popular in modern Brazil.
Catholicism is highly popular in modern Brazil.

Brazil has a long history of devout Christianity, going back to the 16th century, when it was colonized by Roman Catholic Portuguese. Today, Brazil is one of the most Catholic countries on Earth, on an already very Catholic continent, and Christ the Redeemer is a notable symbol of how seriously Catholicism is taken in Brazil.

Ideas for a religious statue on Corcovado Mountain were thrown around as early as the 1800s, but it wasn't until 1921 that a serious effort emerged, spearheaded by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The group held fund raisers to build a statue, and commissioned several designs to choose from, deciding to construct the statue in France, where the designer could use expert sculptors.

The core of the statue is made from reinforced concrete, and the sculpture is clad in soapstone. It stands 120 feet (38 meters) tall, and was completed in 1921. This statue has been included on the list of “New Seven Wonders of the World,” which includes sites like the Colosseum and the Taj Mahal.

This statue is very popular with visitors to Rio, many of whom try to make an effort to go see the statue up close, in addition to admiring it from afar. Citizens of the city also enjoy visiting Christ the Redeemer, and like many famous religious statues, it has an almost iconic status; some people believe that the statue is largely invulnerable to natural disasters, for example.

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