14. Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"The statue of Christ the Redeemer, though
majestic, is not the main attraction. What
impresses most visitors is the breathtaking
panoramic view.... ” - Andre Sampaio
Christ the Redeemer is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world and the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world. It is 39.6 metres tall, including its 9.5 metres pedestal, and 30 metres wide. It weighs 635 tonnes, and is located at the peak of the 700-metre Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. A symbol of Brazilian Christianity, the statue has become an icon for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931.
The ideas 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 dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a republic with laws mandating the separation of church and state. The second proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The group organized an event called Semana do Monumento ("Monument Week") to attract donations and collect signatures to support the building of the statue. The donations came mostly from Brazilian Catholics. The designs considered for the "Statue of the Christ" included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms, a symbol of peace, was chosen.
Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by French sculptor Paul Landowski. A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski's submissions and the decision was made to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suitable for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of US$250,000 ($3,257,463 in 2012). The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 9,200 km away in Rome, but poor weather affected the signal and it had to be lit by workers in Rio.
In October 2006, on the statue's 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel (named after the patron saint of Brazil-Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or "Our Lady of the Apparition,") under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.
The statue was struck by lightning during a violent electrical storm on Sunday, February 10, 2008 and suffered some damage on the fingers, head and eyebrows. A restoration effort was put in place by the Rio de Janeiro state government and archdiocese to replace some of the outer soapstone layers and repair the lightning rods installed on the statue.
On April 15, 2010 graffiti was sprayed on the statue's head and right arm. Mayor Eduardo Paes called the act "a crime against the nation" and vowed to jail the vandals, even offering a reward of R$ 10,000 for any information that might lead to an arrest. The Military Police eventually identified house painter Paulo Souza dos Santos as the suspect of the act of vandalism.
On July 7, 2007, in Lisbon (Estádio da Luz), 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. Leading corporate sponsors, including Banco Bradesco and Rede Globo, had lobbied to have the statue voted into the top seven.