Some of the most famous local landmarks in addition to the beaches include the giant statue of Jesus, known as Christ the Redeemer (‘Cristo Redentor’) atop Corcovado mountain, which has recently been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Christ the Redeemer (Portuguese: O Cristo Redentor) is a statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue stands 38 metres (120 ft) tall weighs 700 short tons (635 tonnes), and is located at the peak of the 700 metres (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city. It is the tallest of its kind in the world. It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone.
On 7th July 2007, 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. In Brazil there was a campaign Vote no Cristo (Vote for the Christ) which had the support of private companies. Additionally, leading corporate sponsors including Banco Bradesco and Rede Globo spent millions of dollars in the effort to have the statue voted into the top seven.
A symbol of Christianity, the statue has become an icon of Rio and Brazil.
The idea 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 completely dismissed in 1889, when Brazil became a Republic, with laws mandating the separation of church and state. The second proposal for a large landmark statue on the mountain was made in 1921 by the Catholic Circle of Rio. The group organised 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 was chosen.
Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue; it was sculpted by Paul Landowski, a French monument sculptor of Polish origin. 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. The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The cost of the monument was $250,000. The statue was meant to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely by shortwave radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, stationed 5,700 miles (9,200 km) away in Rome, but poor weather affected the signal and it had to be lit by workers in Rio.
The statue was struck by lightning during a violent electrical storm on Sunday, February 10, 2008. The storm caused havoc in Rio, falling trees in several neighborhoods, but the statue was left unscathed because soapstone, the material forming the outer layers of the statue, is an insulator.