Casting a watchful eye over Rio’s favelas, city beaches and the navy blue Atlantic beyond (like the Almighty Himself, you could say), Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is one of the most instantly recognisable Seven New Wonders of The World. Jaw-dropping and epiphany-inducing, it’s worth all the hyperbole thrown at it by travel editors.
Created by Catholics to counter what they considered as a spiritual vacuum between Church and State in Brazil after the brutal desolation of the First World War, to this day the statue is still a potent symbol of hope and inspiration to the rich and poor who dwell 700 metres below it. Designed by Da Silva Costa and built by Paul Landowski, the 98 foot-tall Art Deco sculpture took nine years to complete due to the logistical challenges of building on top of a mountain. The workers who covered the statue with its six million soapstone tiles allegedly even wrote hidden messages on the backs of them, although of course these are not visible whether they are there or not!
Given that this is on many people’s bucket lists, overcrowding can diminish the integrity of your experience; for a more intimate experience with this stunning statue and its 360-degree views of Rio, try and catch the first 8am train or wait for the crowds to thin after 4pm. Alternatively, it’s usually quieter behind the statue, with equally spellbinding views.
Trains and tickets are available from the bottom of Mount Corcovado, where you are transported by bus to the first peak where you can take the steps leading to the statue or alternatively lifts to the different levels. If you want to build up an appetite for lunch (which is available after the second set of stairs), take the 220 steps, alternatively for the disabled and those averse to walking take the lift (from the bus stop). Should you chose to follow the steps, a new angle of Rio is unveiled at every turn; and with mind-blowing views and a chance to top-up your tan, be ready to take in some of the most in-demand visions of Rio de Janeiro.
There is an opportunity to make your own way up to the first peak of this attraction whether that is by car or walking. Tour guides suggest going in groups due to cases of assaults and muggings, which have previously occurred. Whichever way you choose to ascend, be wary of the weather at all times, it would be disappointing to get all this way to see a city concealed by clouds.