Construction Facts About Brazil's Christ the Redeemer

The Origin and History of How Christ the Redeemer Was Buil

Cristo Rei, Christ Statue in Lisbon
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The Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most important monuments in Brazil, situated at the top of Mount Corcovado in the Tijuca National Forest. It sits 2,320 feet above Rio de Janeiro. Its design is credited to Heitor da Silva Costa, but a Frenchman was commissioned to actually sculpt the piece.

Construction of the statue began in the 1920s and took nine years to finish. Brazilian Christians wanted a symbol that would defy what they saw as the country’s departure from godliness after World War I, and da Silva Costa’s design was chosen to meet that need.

The statue was officially unveiled on October 12, 1931. Here are a few interesting, bet-you-didn't-know facts about its construction: 

Composition of Christ the Redeemer

Here are some facts of the material and construction process, which was originally planned for 1850, but the idea was rejected by the catholic church back then.

  • The inner framework is made of concrete.
  • The outer layers of the statue are composed of soapstone, imported from Sweden.
  • Christ the Redeemer was built in bits and pieces. The pieces were assembled then transferred to the top of Mount Corcovado.
  • The stones that were used to build Christ the Redeemer came from Sweden.
  • Construction started in the 1920s and took nine years to finish, due in part because of the remote location and the existing cliff in the area.

How Tall the Statue Is?

  • Cristo Redentor, as the statue is known in Portuguese, measures 124 feet tall, including both the statue and its pedestal. It is 92 feet wide. 
  • Christ the Redeemer weighs over 1,400 tons.
  • It is the largest art deco statue in the world.
  • A chapel built inside the pedestal can accommodate over 150 people. 
  • Christ the Redeemer is considered the fifth largest statue of Jesus in the world, the tallest one being Poland’s Christ the King.
  • Christ the Redeemer was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in July 2007.
  • Visitors need to climb 220 steps order to reach the statue, however, a flight of escalators now exists.

Construction Process of Christ the Redeemer

During the construction process, that took about 9 years, the statue was covered by all scaffolding and only the head of Jesus was visible with no scaffolding around it. The hands of the statues are three times the size of an average human being (6'0").

  • All construction materials, as well as the workers, were transported to the top of the mountain by cog-wheel train.
  • Workers had to prepare the cement on site with water from a fountain that was 984 feet away from the construction site
  • Stairs, elevators and escalators were added to the statue in 2003.

Fun Facts of the Brazilian Statue

  • It cost $250,000 to build Christ the Redeemer. That equals $3.2 million U.S. dollars today. Brazil’s Catholic community paid the tab largely through public support and donations.   
  • Christ’s right arm points to south Rio de Janeiro and the left arm points to north Rio de Janeiro.
  • Da Silva Costa’s original design had Christ holding a cross in one hand and a globe in his other, but this met with some ridicule. People began calling the proposed statue “Christ with a ball.” Da Silva Costa went back to the drawing board and created Christ the Redeemer as we know the statue today, with his arms wide open.
  • The statue was struck by lightning during an electrical storm in 2008. The head, eyebrows and fingers were damaged. The soapstone exterior of the statue prevented more severe damage because it acted as an insulator. There was another lighting event during 2014 which also affected the statue's finger.
  • In 2010, a house painter vandalized Christ the Redeemer, spray-painting the head and right arm. The vandal was apprehended.