One of the most iconic symbols of both Brazil and the Christian world, the Christ the Redeemer statue has been standing for nearly 90 years. Having withstood lightning storms and graffiti from vandals, the statue is considered to be a great engineering feat and a point of pride for the Brazilian people.
The statue is said to depict an embracing and loving Christ and is therefore thought of as an international icon of peace and harmony that watches over the city of Rio de Janeiro. Keep reading to find out 10 things you didn’t know about the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
10 People Debate What The Statue Actually Depicts
There’s no doubt that the Christ the Redeemer statue is one of the most iconic monuments in the world. What is up for debate is what the statue actually depicts with its pose. According to The Washington Post, the majority of people seem to interpret the statues spread out arms as symbolizing a cross.
That said, there are those who argue that the monument shows Christ holding his arms out for a hug. This reinforced the fact that Christ embraces and loves everyone. Because of this, the statue is seen as a symbol of peace and harmony by millions around the world.
9 The Statue Has Been Struck By Lightning
Christ the Redeemer is a pretty impressive structure; however, even with help from the heavens, it hasn’t been able to withstand the powers of Mother Nature. The statue has been struck by lightning more than once.
Softschools.com points out that one of the worst incidents of lightning took place in 2008 when the head, eyebrows, and fingers of the statue were damaged by an intense electrical storm. Following this, the statue was restored using soapstone from the same quarry that the original material was mined from.
8 It Was Supposed To Look Different
The image of Christ holding his arms either in the shape of a cross or in a loving embrace is now an iconic symbol throughout the world. Interestingly, the statue was intended to look completely different from how it looks now.
The initial sketches of the statue saw Christ holding a cross in one hand and a globe in the other. This design was initially well received and was even termed “Christ with a Ball.” Eventually, the design was adapted to the Art Deco style we have today.
7 It Will Probably Look Different In The Future
The statue looks different from its initial design concept, but it hasn’t changed much since it was constructed. In the future, however, it’s possible that we will see some changes to the appearance of Christ the Redeemer.
The statue is coated in soapstone which gives it a light color. Now the quarry that provided the soapstone has run dry, so it may be difficult to replace the coating with material that gives the statue the same light hue. In 2020, when the next major renovation to the statue takes place, it is believed the statue will look darker.
6 The Statue Is Full Of Hidden Messages
Christians around the world interpret Christ the Redeemer as being a symbol of love and peace. But it is thought that the statue is literally full of messages that nobody will ever read. According to BBC, volunteers would leave personal messages on the soapstone tiles used to line the outer shell of the statue.
A whopping six million soapstone tiles were used to create the exterior for the statue. The monument stands around 92 feet tall and stands on a pedestal of 26 feet, giving it even more height.
5 It Was Restored For A Visit From The Pope
The statue was completed in 1931 and has undergone a few restorations to keep it looking pristine in the decades that have past. The first major restoration took place in 1980 in preparation for the arrival of Pope John Paul II, who was visiting Brazil that year.
Since then, the statue has been restored a few more times. In 2010, 30 years after the Pope’s visit, the monument was heavily restored again following a violent electrical storm in 2008 which caused Christ the Redeemer to be struck and damaged by lightning.
4 Visitors No Longer Need To Hike Up
The idea behind the statue may be that Christ embraces everybody, but there was a time when only fit people could enjoy the landmark up close. That’s because if you wanted to reach Christ the Redeemer, you had to climb a flight of 220 steps. Now, the statue is a little more accessible.
An escalator was installed in 2003, allowing visitors to get up to the statue with a lot more ease. On the unlikely situation that the elevators or escalators stop working, visitors can still choose to hike up the mountain or take a train or van.
3 Catholics Pushed For The Statue Because Brazil Was Becoming Ungodly
The First World War was a major factor that led to the creation of Christ the Redeemer. Following the end of the war in 1918, many Catholics in Brazil felt that their country was in a state of “ungodliness” that needed to be counteracted.
The creation of the Brazilian republic in 1889 also contributed to the attitude that Rio de Janeiro needed a godly presence, as this separated church and state. It wasn’t until 1920 that Heitor da Silva Costa was chosen as the chief engineer of the project.
2 It Nearly Took A Decade To Complete
By the time the gigantic statue was ready to start constructing, it was 1922. It would be nearly a decade before the project was finally complete, mainly due to the sheer size of the statue. Another factor slowing down the building process was the fact that Mount Corcovado, where the landmark currently stands, was covered with thick vegetation at the time.
It may have taken nine years to complete, but the statue has proven to be longlasting. It is only two years away from being 90 years old.
1 Not All Of The Statue Is Originally From Brazil
Christ the Redeemer is a symbol of Brazil. Few people visit Rio without wanting to see the famous landmark that watches over the city. But surprisingly, the statue wasn’t actually constructed in Brazil. The clay pieces were partially designed in France.
The statue was created in the European nation by French sculptor Paul Landowski, who first came up with a series of clay pieces. The clay pieces were shipped to Brazil, where Heitor da Silva Costa and his team reinforced them with concrete and completed the statue.