I remember climbing to the top of Mount Corcovado and feeling dwarfed by the colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer as I gazed at its grandeur. It is amazing when you think this masterpiece was constructed nearly 80 years ago by the residents of the area and hauled 710 metres to the top of the mountain.
The Statue, one of the newly chosen Seven Wonders of the World, sits just outside Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. The city itself is worth the visit, but the statue makes it a must for anyone travelling to South America. A long, thirteen hour flight will get you to Rio, but its thirteen million inhabitants ensure ample restaurants, shopping and a sensational nightlife.
The statue of Christ can be seen from anywhere in Rio, but a trip to the top of Corcovado (which means ‘hunchback’ in Portuguese) is a must for visitors. A train, which takes about twenty minutes, will take you part way up, but be prepared to wait as much as two hours, as the capacity of the electric rail cars is 350 people per hour. After you step from the train it’s only 222 steps, but not to worry for there are elevators and an escalator for the less adventurous.
The site attracts 300,000 visitors a year and the platform can be quite crowded. Morning visits are recommended, but remember the first train does not depart the station until 8:30. For the true thrill seekers there are 52 rock climbing routes along the southern face.
High above the clouds the famous monument entitled Christo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer, stands with arms spread wide, keeping all below safe from evil. The views from this height are amazing. Hotels look like building blocks and people resemble ants. Even the famous Sugarloaf Mountain is dwarfed in the shadows of this Christ of the Andes.
A rough road was constructed to enable craftsman to bring materials to the top of the mountain. Made from reinforced concrete and covered with thousands of small, soapstone triangles, the construction of the statue is flawless. In total, the work of art stands sixty metres in height and weighs more than eleven hundred tons. The hands and head are the only sections not built on site. They were constructed in Rio and carted to the top.
Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, samba, and the Bossa Nova. Beaches, such as Copacabana and Ipanema bring visions of beautiful people strolling along white sandy shores, under very hot sunrays. Some of the most famous landmarks in addition to the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer are Sugarloaf mountain with its cable car; the Sambódromo, a permanent grandstand-lined parade avenue which is used during Carnival; and Maracanã Stadium, one of the world's largest football stadiums. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will mark the first time a South American city hosts the event. Rio's Maracanã Stadium will also host the final match for 2014 FIFA World Cup. The city, in the next few years, will be a fantastic destination to add to your bucket list.
Rio de Janeiro and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer is truly worthy of being named one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Standing in its presence makes you appreciate how small we are compared to all that is around us.
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com