Have you ever heard of the Christ Redeemer before? Well, if you haven’t, I’m about to tell you. It’s a beautiful statue of Christ which became a famous landmark in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Portuguese, we call it ‘O Cristo Redentor’. Locals also call it by the mountain’s name ‘Corcovado‘. Some people believed, and perhaps some still do, that like the Statue of Liberty in the US, this statue was a gift from France to Brazil. Even I, who was born and raised in Brazil, used to have this misconception. Today, I realize the truth and have a good idea why this myth came about.
The plans for the construction of the Christ started in 1921, when religious and government authorities, in Rio de Janeiro, met to discuss the idea. A year later, there was a project contest and engineer Heitor da Silva Costa was the winner of it. His drawing showed Christ holding the globe in one hand and the cross on the other. However, later he changed it to the Art Deco design that it has today: Christ with His arms open as if welcoming the ’carioca’ population which they really loved.
The Brazilian government didn’t find a national professional capable of building such work at that time. They, then, commissioned Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski to do it. The idea that, perhaps, this statue was a gift from France, probably came from the nationality of the sculptor who is half-French and worked from France. It took five years to create the outer part of the statue, and it was shipped back to Brazil in parts.
Material of the Statue
This masterpiece was sculpted from soapstone also known as steatite, a type of metamorphic rock. It contains several minerals, primarily talc, but also chlorite, tremolite, and quartz. It may be gray, blueish, green, or brown in color. Its surface is soft because of the talc content which allows easy molding. However, it’s also a strong rock that is time and weather-resistant. Needless to say, it was the perfect material for building this magnificent statue.
In 2000, the New 7 Wonders Foundation based in Zurich, Switzerland set up a campaign through free web voting to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World of the current era. On 7 July 2007, the winners were revealed and Christ the Redeemer was among them. So, we feel very proud that the Christ was selected as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.