Why you Should Visit

Christ the Redeemer is one of the New7Wonders of the World. The monument joined the list through a competition held in 2007, when it received over 100 million votes online. The statue with open arms on top of the Corcovado mountains is one of the world’s most famous postcards. The amazing vista of several parts of the North and West sides of the city is one of the most amazing moments of the tour.

Christ the Redeemer

The landscape behind the monument unveils tourist attractions such as Tijuca Forest and the Maracanã Stadium. The Rio-Niterói bridge, Guanabara Bay, the Flamengo and Botafogo beaches, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the shores of Leme, Copacabana Beach, and Ipanema Beach are some of the spots that form the view in front of the statue. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, the Jockey Club, and the Two Brothers Hill also catch the eye of visitors.

The Christ sculpture is 38-meters tall, the same size as a 13-story building. The statue weighs over a thousand tons and is 710 meters above sea level. Each of its arms uses an area of 88 square meters, and its feet are 1.35 meters wide. The icon is projected to withstand winds as fast as 250 kilometers per hour and is coated with soapstone, a material widely available in Brazil that is very efficient in resisting erosion.

The list of people who have already visited Christ the Redeemer is full of important names. The North-American president Barack Obama and his family were there in March 2011. Prince Charles and Princess Diana, from England, visited in April 1991. The monument also received Pope John Paul II in June 1980. Over 2 million people go to the monument every year.

Christ the Redeemer Panoramic View

Past History of Christ the Redeemer

The history of Christ the Redeemer blends with that of Corcovado. The first settlers named the mountain Pinnacle or Temptation Peak on 16th century maps. It was only known by its current name 200 years later because its shape resembles a hump (corcova). The railroad that has connected the peak to the neighborhood of Cosme Velho since 1885 made the area a tourist attraction in the city.

Christ the Redeemer under construction

The idea of building a religious monument on top of Corcovado was conceived by the French priest Pierre-Marie Boss in 1859, and in 1921 the Catholic Church promoted a contest to put it into practice. The chosen project was that of the engineer Heitor Costa, who was inspired by the antennas that were placed on top of the hill to create the image of Christ with open arms. Carlos Oswald was in charge of drawing the image.

The cornerstone was revealed on April 4, 1922. The head and hands were shaped in Paris by the sculptor Maximiliam Landowsky. Some donation campaigns held by Rio’s Archdiocese helped to fund the construction, which took nine years to be completed. The archbishop Dom Sebastião Leme led the monument’s opening ceremony on October 12, 1931.

A decree at the end of 19th century could have led the place that today holds Christ the Redeemer onto a different course. It established that a statue of Princess Isabel would be created on top of Corcovado as an homage to the abolition of slavery in Brazil, which she signed in 1888. But the opposition to the project by herself and the Proclamation of the Republic in 1889 prevented the fulfillment of the decree.

Christ the Redeemer Today

Christ the Redeemer is not only a postcard, but also a prayer point for Catholics. The Church named the area an archdiocesan sanctuary in 2006 and uses it today to hold masses, meetings, and other related activities. The monument also hosts other movements and gets a special lighting system during social campaigns such as Pink October, which aims to raise awareness towards breast cancer. The 2016 Olympic Games are expected to raise the number of tourists visiting the area, which received over 70 thousand people during the 2014 World Cup period. Christ is the most visited tourist attraction in the city, leaving behind places such as Sugar Loaf mountain and Maracanã.

The tickets for the Christ the Redeemer monument already include transportation by train or by van. By train, the price for adults is R$61,00 in off-season and R$74,00 in high season. For children from 6-11 years old it costs R$48,00 in both seasons. For the elderly (over 60 years old) brazilian or foreign residents in Brazil, it costs R$24,00 in both seasons. For residents of Rio de Janeiro the so called “Carioquinha ticket” costs R$48,80 in off-season and R$59,20 in high season. Children up to 5 years old have free entrance. Essentially, the high season consists in any holiday, weekend and school breaks.

You can buy the tickets in advance or in Corcovado’s train ticket office, in Cosme Velho. Tickets with an appointment are given preference over tickets bought on time in the ticket office. If the visitor loses the boarding time or doesn’t attend to boarding place, he/she can ask to be included in the next trip, if there are seats available. A fine for the transference might be charged. Tickets bought for Corcovado’s train might be transferred with no additional costs if the climate conditions make visitation impossible.

For adults, going to the Christ the Redeemer monument by van from Barra da Tijuca costs R$90,00 in off-season and R$103,00 in high season. From Copacabana or Largo do Machado it costs R$61,00 in off-season and R$74,00 in high season. From Paineiras, it costs R$28,00 in off-season and R$41,00 in high season. Children up to 4 years old only pay for the transport. You can buy the ticket on-line or in ticket offices spread around the city. Be aware of your boarding location, as tickets can not be exchanged because of mistakes in the purchase, mistakes in the location or climate issues.

Train to the top of Corcovado mountain

Differences between going by train or by van: Corcovado’s train is the most charming and popular way of getting to the Christ the Redeemer. The route goes through Tijuca’s Forest and offers a view that you can’t get from the roadway. Children up to 5 years old have free entrance at any time. However, because of its popularity, the train is more crowded and it stops working at 7 pm. The boarding station is at Rua Cosme Velho, 513, in front of the church of São Judas Tadeu. The van offers the comfort of the long-way transportation (Barra and Copacabana) straight to the Christ the Redeemer and the exclusivity of smaller groups. However, it doesn’t offer the possibility of rescheduling tickets and it stops working at 6:30 pm.

Those who choose to visit the Christ by their own means must be careful. The transit is restricted to special vans on the Paineiras road, which provides access to the statue. Taxis are not allowed to drive all the way. Christ the Redeemer is open every day from 8am to 7pm. The trip is perfect on sunny days, when it’s possible to see most of the city from above. Christ the Redeemer monument can be accessed through Alto da Boa Vista, at Tijuca’s National Park.

What Nobody Talks About

Although Christ the Redeemer is one of the most famous Rio postcards worldwide, some problems regarding it are ignored by tourists because they are not talked about on advertising made for visitors. But we believe it is important for our tourists to know that the visit to Corcovado has some issues that may ruin their good time. We are not looking to scare anyone, but to openly talk about matters that are commonly disregarded so our tourists may have a better understanding of the area they’ll go to and can avoid unnecessary risks.

Queue for tickets and departure on the Corcovado train

  • The tour must be planned beforehand because in the high season, due to high demand, the tickets may be sold out for that day or even some hours ahead. One should set aside some time for the departure queue, regardless if it’s for vans or the Corcovado train that, sometimes, takes an hour to arrive. That’s why it’s worth it to buy your tickets beforehand on the internet or for the next day.
  • There’s a track for hiking up to the top of Corcovado mountain. Although some Rio citizens claim it’s an easy track, we do not consider it that easy due to steep areas and unprotected ravines. We openly do not recommend this adventure for those who do not have experience with this kind of activity. Also, it’s a shame, but we must warn you that some people were robbed on this track, which is another reason why we do not recommend it.
  • It’s important to walk paying attention to your surroundings in Largo do Machado (where tickets to Christ the Redeemer are sold and vans depart) because there are homeless people wandering around, and some minor crimes such as theft and pickpocketing are not that rare there, especially at night. Generally they are opportunity thefts. That’s why you should not openly show your possessions on the streets.
  • Christ the Redeemer and clouds

  • Some clouds may stop right above the Corcovado mountain. In these cases, we do not recommend the tour due to low visibility and cold weather (clouds are cold!). It’s not worth it to take the risk and buy a ticket on these days, and it’s recommended to change the date if you bought it online. Check the conditions for that on their website.

Credits for the used images in this article Christ the Redeemer: Alexandre Macieira, Fernando Maia, Rodrigo Soldon e Thiago Melo.