Rio de Janeiro: Sharing the Marvel

The capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’s second largest city; that is Rio de Janeiro, the Marvelous City or the Cidade Maravilhosa.  It is also the third metropolitan area in South America, with 6.3 million people in the city proper, hence the 6th largest in the Americas. In the world this city is the 26th largest. A portion of the city has been recognized as a World Heritage Site and is named as “Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea”, declared by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 in the Cultural Landscape category.

The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era, 1815 to 1821 as the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves, and 1822 to 1960 of Brazil as an independent nation. Wow! There must really be something in this city that many nations are very much attracted to.


The idea of constructing a large statue on top of Corcovado was first thought of in the mid-1850s, when Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss requested funding from Princess Isabel to build a huge religious monument. Princess Isabel did not consider the idea and therefore was just dismissed in 1889. Another proposal for a landmark statue on the mountain was made by the Catholic Circle of Rio in 1920. The group conceptualized an event the Semana do Monumento (“Monument Week”) to raise donations and collect signatures in support of the building of the statue. Majority of the donations came from Brazilian Catholics. The designs considered for the “Statue of the Christ” included a representation of the a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, Christian cross, and a pedestal symbolizing the world. The statue of Christ the Redeemer with open arms which is a symbol of peace was chosen.

The Structure

A local engineer, Heitor da Silva Costa designed the statue. It was sculpted by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski. A group of engineers and technicians studied Landowski’s proposals and the decision was to build the structure out of reinforced concrete (designed by Albert Caquot) instead of steel, more suited for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers are soapstone, chosen for its enduring qualities and ease of use. Construction lasted for nine years, from 1922 to 1931. The monument was opened on October 12, 1931. The statue was supposed to be lit by a battery of floodlights triggered remotely 5,700 miles away but poor weather affected the signal and the lightings had to be done in Rio itself.

Further restoration work was conducted in 1990. And in 2003, more work on the statue and its environs was conducted.  A set of elevators, escalators, and walkways were installed to access the platform around the statue. The four-month restoration in 2010 focused on the statue itself. The internal structure of the statue was renovated and its soapstone mosaic exterior was restored by removing microorganisms like fungi and small cracks were repaired. The lightning rods and lighting fixtures were fixed.

The Hosting

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad (Jogos da XXXI Olimpíada), is a major international multi-sport event due to be celebrated in the tradition of the Olympic Games, as governed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics will be Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as announced at the 121st IOC Session held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on October 2, 2009. They games are to be held from August 5 to 21, 2016. There will be 30 competition areas, many in Barra da Tijuca, the others in three other zones: Copacabana, Maracanã and Deodoro,

The sight, the structure, and the hosting all speak of underlying resources, beauty and pride. A marvel indeed and a gem meant to be shared and appreciated.

Photo by marjoryjune on Flickr

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