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Wonders of the World - Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Location : Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nearest Airport : Rio de Janeiro - Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim,
                            International Airport

Towering almost 750m (2,430 ft.) above the megalopolis of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Christ the Redeemer statue was erected atop the Corcovado Mountain in 1931. Perched among lush, semi-tropical vegetation, this monument has become emblematic of the city along with the annual Carnival parades. Standing 38m (98 ft.) tall, the Art Deco designed image of Jesus Christ looks below with outstretched arms.

Starting as early as 1850, when Brazil was still a Portuguese territory, local Catholics wanted a monument of some sort atop the dizzying hilltop park known for its panoramic views. A priest went to Portugal to find a less than receptive audience in the form of Princess Isabel who refused to fund the monument. When church and state were officially separated in 1889 by Brazilian independence, the cause died. The project was awakened in 1921 by the local Archdiocese appealing for funds from local Catholics in order to build a great monument. It took over 10 years to secure the financing required to finish the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

The Christ the Redeemer statue is a combination of international efforts. The outer shell of soapstone was crafted by the French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski from an original series of sketches drawn by Carlos Oswald. Despite the very soft nature of the stone, easily damaged by mechanical abrasion, it was determined the best for weather, erosion and deformation.

The inner framework of Christ the Redeemer is made of reinforced concrete engineered by Heitor da Silva Costa. While originally designed to have a steel framework, it was decided concrete would be stronger against high winds and tremors given the cross-shape of the selected design. The statue of Christ the Redeemer was created in pieces and then assembled on the mountain. The Corcovado Rack Railway, built in 1892, assisted in the transport of the heavy pieces.

The Christ the Redeemer statue was officially dedicated in October of 1931 by Brazil's president. Since then, people from all over the world, including popes, royalty and presidents, have visited this statuary. The nearly 37 ton train takes 20 minutes to ascend. People have viewed the statue of Christ the Redeemer as embodying the Catholic majority of Brazil's population as well as the reputation of Rio de Janeiro as a welcoming, friendly city.

A small chapel was built in 2006 at the base of the city's monument commemorating the statue's 75th anniversary. The chapel is large enough to hold weddings and baptisms. Other recent additions include elevators and escalators to supplement the hundreds of steps pilgrims and tourists climb.

The Christ the Redeemer statue is located in what is now Tijuca National Park -- the largest urban park in the world. The site is accessible by train or bus as well as a network of challenging hiking trails. Over 300,000 people are estimated to visit each year, making it one of the most traveled sites in South America. Proceeds from the now electric train are given to Ibama, the Brazilian Institute for the Preservation of Nature.