How Christ The Redeemer statue came to dominate the Rio skyline: Fascinating photos show how iconic statue was built and the story behind it
- It was built after Brazilians feared a lack of God in their lives after Church and state separated in a republic
- Designed in the early 1920s before opening in 1931, the designs kept changing during construction phase
- The architect said: ‘We were marching towards… artistic failure, without being able to go back’
- Located more than 700 metres (2296.59 feet) above ground, the statue is 38 metres (124.672 feet) high with an arm span of 28 metres (91.8635 feet).
The Rio De Janeiro cityscape today with Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain in the background
The first idea of a statue emerged in the 1850s when a local Rio De Janeiro priest suggested placing a Christian monument on Corcovado. He requested funds from Brazilian Princess Isabel to build one.
However, the Princess was not enthusiastic about the project.
By the time the Republic of Brazil was founded in 1889, separating Church and statue, the idea was scrapped.
The project is said to have re-emerged after World War One when a group of Brazilians, including the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, feared a lack of Religion in Brazilian life after the separation of Church and state in the new republic and wanted to make a bold statement in the name of Christianity.
There were thoughts of using nearby Sugar Loaf Mountain – now also a major tourist attraction – for the Statue but Corcovado was chosen for its towering height and ability to be seen from vantage points around the city.
The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro reportedly proposed in 1921 that a statue of Christ be built on the mountain and citizens petitioned then President Epitácio Pessoa to allow the project to proceed.
The face under construction (left) as well as the giant hands – shown as three times the height of an adult (right)
Part of the face right under construction (left) before the full face of Jesus Christ began to emerge (right)
Workers build the iconic face of Christ The Redeemer with the help of long wooden poles acting as scaffolding.