Written by Divija Vaish, a grade 11 student
Mount Corcovado is home to the third-largest (but the most famous) statue of Christ- called the Christ the Redeemer statue, in Rio de Janeiro, which is in Brazil, South America.
Everybody knows what the statue looks like, but not many people know why the statue looks like that, or that it was originally supposed to be a statue of Christ holding the earth in one hand and a cross in the other.
The idea for the statue was first proposed way back in 1850, when a local priest suggested that a statue of Christ be built on Mount Corcovado – Corcovado, means “hunchback” in Portuguese.
The project was to be funded by the Emperor’s daughter, but the idea was discarded after the Declaration of the Republic in 1889, which separated the state from the church. It was only after World War 1 that the idea was taken up again because the Roman Catholics in Rio were becoming concerned about the increasing lack of religious faith. They hoped that placing the statue on top of Mount Corcovado, making it visible from anywhere in the city, would reinstall faith in the people.
The statue was built using something known as “reinforced concrete” with 6 million soapstone tiles making up its outer shell. According to the BBC, the workers who made these tiles would sometimes write notes on the back, which makes the statue full of hidden messages. Literally.
It took nine years, from 1922 to 1931, and $250,000 (about $3.14 million today) to construct the statue.
But what’s really cool about this statue is that it wasn’t really built in Brazil, let alone in Rio. It was first built in France, out of clay pieces, and was then shipped to Rio where it was remade with reinforced concrete. In 2007, it was voted one of the new seven wonders of the world.
The statue has faced its share of bad weather, in 2014, just before the FIFA World Cup, it was struck by lightning. The statue is quite prone to lightning strikes and is very frequently struck, however, this strike was particularly bad since it damaged a portion of the side of the head and broke off one of the thumbs.
At the peak, the statue gets more than 2 million visitors per year. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the statue was temporarily shut till mid-August when it reopened, with all safety precautions in check and only at 25% capacity for visitors.
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Header Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_the_Redeemer_statue_at_Corcovado.JPG