Tuesday, March 15, 2011

7 wonders of the world's seventh edition of the Christ Redeemer

. Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christ Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is an amazing city, with gorgeous beaches (Copacabana and Ipanema), a world-famous football (soccer) stadium called Maracanã Stadium where the 1950 FIFA World Cup was held, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World (the harbor at Rio de Janeiro), and tremendous mountains that seem to rise up out of nowhere and which sometimes fall straight into the ocean (one of the most well-known is Sugarloaf Mountain, which you can ascend via aerial cable car). The tallest mountain in the city is Corcovado, which means “hunchback.” From the top of the mountain, you can see all of the above-mentioned sights, including some of the favelas (poor shanty-towns).
Since the 19th century, there have been plans to place a statue on the top of Corcovado Mountain, and finally the Brazilian government approved this work, the Christ Redeemer statue (in Portuguese, O Cristo Redentor). Much discussion was had about what to place up there, but eventually a statue of Jesus with arms outstretched in welcome seemed the most appropriate.
The construction of this statue took nine years, from 1922-31. It is made of soapstone, a common stone that is used for carving, with reinforced concrete underneath. The designer was Brazilian Heitor da Silva Costa and sculptor was a Polish-Frenchman named Paul Landowski.
My perspective:
Undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous symbols, the Christ Redeemer is almost always featured on any picture or postcard of Brazil, and especially of Rio de Janeiro.
To get up there, you can take the red funicular (train that goes straight up the side of the mountain), or a taxi that goes up the switchbacks. I recommend the funicular because of the steepness of the climb, though the taxi is great because it can make stops along the way and you can get out and take pictures.
At 38 meters (100 feet) tall, the Christ Redeemer is formidable but not overly impressive. This is only one of dozens of Christ statues atop mountains throughout the world. Why is this the most famous? Because it stands on top of Corcovado Mountain which is 700 meters (2300 feet) high. That, more than anything, is the clincher. The setting is spectacular; the statue itself is ho-hum. It is sculpted in an art deco style, which is a minimalist technique. Once you get to the top, the thing that draws your eye more than anything is the view. You will gaze once at the statue, think “That’s it?” and then end up focusing most of your time on the sweeping vistas.
Originally this mountain was named “Pinnacle of Temptation” (“Pinaculo da Tentacao”) by the first Portuguese settlers in honor of the resistance of Jesus to the devil’s temptation of giving Him all the kingdoms of the earth in return for obeisance (e.g. Matthew 4:8-10). The earlier name of the mountain seems more appropriate in light of the statue being atop it now!
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