Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cristo Redentor

In 2007 they (I don't know who they are) designated a new "seven wonders of the world" list.  The statue called Cristo Redentor (Christ Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro was named to this list.  I don't know why it is considered a "wonder" since we know how he was erected; though I will admit it is quite a sight.  Eight-one years ago architect-engineer Heitor Silva Costa designed Cristo.  To pay for the cost, several organizations went door-to-door asking for donations.  [Side note: philanthropy is in its infancy in Brazil, so the fact that individual donors gave money for this is pretty incredible.]

The idea came from a competition in 1921 held by a group called Circulo Carioca to commemorate Brazil's upcoming 100 years of independence with a religious monument.  Heitor's original design had Christ holding a cross on his side, but the committee wanted something recognizable from a great distance, and modified the design so his arms are now the cross.  Many thought the statue was too large to get to the top of the mountain, but they were of course proven wrong.  It did take 10 years to build.  Now it is Brazil's most recognized monument and visited by 600,000 people a year.

You take a slow train up the hill to see Cristo.  Only 40 people fit in the train; your ticket says what time you can go up.  The trains are 20 minutes apart -- mainly because they can't always pass each other going up and down (there is some interesting track changes that happen on your way up to allow for the down trains to go by).  The train stops around 5 times on the way up at "stations," but I honestly couldn't tell you why.  On the way up one woman got off at one of these random stations.


After you exit the train you go up an elevator and then a couple of escalators (God forbid you do any walking) and your first sight is his back.


We got up to Cristo at night (since we were in the Southern Hemisphere, night started around 5:30 p.m. because we entered winter during my trip).  He was lit in Green for the Rio+20 summit -- usually he is white.


The view of Rio is quite nice up there...