Advantages One of the iconic 'must see' sights in the World
Disadvantages A long way from UK
|Is it worth visiting?|
CorcovadoThe famous iconic statue of Christ the redeemer blessing the city of Rio with his open arms is about 30 metres high and is on the top of the Corcovado Hill which is about 700metres high so it can be seen from many parts of Rio on a clear day. Once you are up on the Corcovado hill standing under the statue you have the most wonderful 360° view of the city of Rio de Janeiro provided there are no clouds hovering over the statue.
The statue was designed by the Brazilian artist Heitor da Silva Costa alongside the French sculptor Paul Landowski. The statue was built between the years 1926 to 1931 from donated funds. Mr da Silva Costa was the engineer overseeing the construction and the French sculpture concentrated on carving the face and hands of the statue.We were quite concerned the day we went to visit the famous monument as it was shrouded in clouds. We went to the Sugar Loaf Mountain first hoping the clouds would move away before we reached the Corcovado and we were indeed lucky at the last minute and we had the thrill of seeing the city of Rio from above quite clearly for about 20 minutes before the clouds came over again.
We caught the funicular train up the hill through the wonderful forest which is not an original rainforest. It was planted by people employed by Emperor Dom Pedro II or Peter the Second who was a man wise before others of the time. He noticed that the hills around Rio were being over cultivated and this was causing flooding as well as soil erosion so he banned farming on the hills and stopped any further destruction of the rainforest. He employed thousands of people who spent their working lives planting rainforest trees on the hills overlooking Rio thus creating this rainforest for future generations.The train crawls up the Corcovado Hill steadily and at all times you are able to see the forest vegetation. We sat facing backwards going up which was a strange sensation and it felt like you were slipping off your seat most of the time. There is one stop before you reach the top but no-one got on or off so I’m not sure if it was a station or just so that they could do something to the train and line. Once you reach the top you have to show your ticket again and hang on to it as it is a return – if you lose it you pay again or walk down and it is a long way even downhill.
Keeping our fingers crossed we walked up the last few steps towards the statue. The clouds had cleared and we could see it in all its glory and it is really big. From a distance it looks spectacular but standing underneath it you can really appreciate the size, when you look up towards the face you get that slightly dizzy feeling and of course when the sun is bright I also have to shut my eyes which means I see nothing.There are escalators, two I believe that take you up the last few feet but when we first arrived they were not working so we had to use the traditional stairs. Fortunately we were not there in the main tourist season ( or so we were told) so although there were quite a few people up on the hill we were able to wander round and take photos that did not have a large number of total strangers making silly faces in them.
The statue is white and very clean, it is supposedly covered in a mosaic of white soapstone but it was not obvious, it just looked like white stone. I believe it is actually concrete over a structure then covered in this white soapstone but I’m not totally certain. I vaguely remember those snippets of information coming from our guide.Once you are up at the top you can of course go to the little chapel under the statue. You can stand in front of it with your arms out and have your photo taken. It must tell you to do this somewhere as everyone was doing it. It never occurred to me I must say. You can also go to several spots and look at the spectacular views of Rio. It is possible to see all the way to the Sugar Loaf Mountain and beyond into the Bay. You can clearly see the Lake Rodrigo de Freitas and the Maracana football stadium as well as the main beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema as well as some of the facelas ( see my Favela Tour review).
After you have used up your entire memory card or film on the camera then there is a small cafe down the stairs or escalators where you can get coffee, cold drinks and a few snacks. Unfortunately they had sold out of the cheesy bread balls that we wanted to try so our English tour manager from Kuoni went with us to see if the cafe below had any. We left the local guide (and our return funicular train tickets) with everyone else in the first cafe. You had to go out of a turnstile to get to the cafe so Derek ( our tour guide) explained that we just wanted to get a snack and then go back to join our group but we didn’t have our tickets – would we be able to go back in again.’ Yes, yes, no problem’ he said.The three of us sat with our drinks and cheesy ball things and enjoyed a sit and the sun for about 10 minutes. Un-noticed by us the turnstile guard changed so that when we came to go back this new one wouldn’t let us back in!! We don’t speak Portuguese so... after ac lot of hand waving and a bit of shouting in limited Portuguese by Derek; we were allowed back in to rejoin the rest of the group.
I don’t think you could visit Rio and not go to see this statue that is the symbol of Rio. It is a very beautiful sight and I’m not a religious person at all. It just looks so peaceful and welcoming with its smooth clean lines and being so white which contrasts with the green forest on the hill and blue, blue sky. Apparently Pope John Paul II came up to visit the statue, he also visited the favelas and according to one of our guides he was so moved by the people in one favela that he gave them his ring. I wonder where he was more moved, in the favela or by this amazing statue.This review is also on Dooyoo under my name
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