Saturday, November 5, 2011

Exploring Rio: Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain

Today, TimeIrado got up early, ate breakfast watching the sun come up over the copacabana and headed out for some sightseeing. We started by visiting Christ the Redeemer and then went to another popular tourist location, Sugarloaf Mountain, which may have the best views in Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redenator to the locals, depicts Christ with his arms spread wide in a welcoming gesture, representing his role as redeemer of the world. It stands 120 feet high including the pedestal and is 98 feet wide. Made of concrete and soapstone and sculpted in a modern style, it weighs a total of 635 tons. Standing on a peak over 2,000 feet high, Christ the Redeemer is famed for its magnificent views over the city of Rio de Janeiro. The statue is often best viewed from another famous high point in Rio de Janeiro, Poa de Acucar, or Sugarloaf Mountain.

The idea of placing a large Christian monument atop Corcovado peak in Rio dates back to the 1850s, when a local Catholic priest requested funds from Princess Isabel to build one. The princess was not enthusiastic and the plan was scrapped entirely with the founding of the Republic of Brazil in 1889, which separated church and state.In 1921, the Catholic Circle of Rio began to collect signatures and donations for a privately-funded Christian monument. Various designs were considered, including a large cross and a statue of Christ holding a globe, but ultimately an image of Christ with his arms wide open was chosen.  Construction began in 1922. The statue of Christ the Redeemer was designed by local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and sculpted from concrete and soapstone by Paul Landowski, a Frenchman. After nine years and a cost of $250,000, the statue opened to the public on October 12, 1931.

To celebrate Christ the Redeemer's 75th anniversary in 2006, a chapel dedicated to the patron saint of Brazil (Nossa Senhora Aparecida) was built at the base. The small chapel at the base of the statue hosts weddings, baptisms and Mass on Sundays. There is a cafe near the statue.

Sugarloaf, is only one of several monolithic morros of granite and quartz that rise straight from the water's edge around Rio de Janeiro. A glass-paneled cable car (in popular Portuguese, bondinho - more properly called teleférico), capable of holding 65 passengers, runs along a 1400-metre route between the peaks of Pão de Açúcar and Cara de Cão every 20 minutes. The original cable car line was built in 1912 and rebuilt around 1972/1973 and in 2008. The cable car goes from the base, not the peak of the Babilônia mountain, to the Urca mountain and then to the Pão de Açúcar mountain.

Sugarloaf Mountain

To reach the summit, passengers take two cable cars. The first ascends to the shorter Morro de Açúcar, 220 meters high. The second car ascends to Pão de Açúcar.The Italian-made bubble-shaped cars offer passengers 360-degree views of the surrounding city. Each car takes you only three minute from start to finish. It was truly breathtaking to view Rio from these vantage points.
After seeing these two beautiful landmarks and the views that accompany them, we headed for lunch at a great local restaurant which I will feature once I have time to upload the pictures. I will also upload the 200 pictures I've taken thus far once I am back in my hotel in Sao Paulo. Time to head to the beach!

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