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Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro | © Play Sports Brazil/Flickr
Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro | © Play Sports Brazil/Flickr

Rio’s Christ the Redeemer is Having a Makeover in 2017

Picture of Sarah Brown
Updated: 22 January 2017
Even Rio’s most iconic and globally recognized landmark isn’t immune to mother nature’s blows, and sometimes needs a little helping hand to get back to pristine condition. Lightning has had a big impact on the Christ the Redeemer statue and the damp has been slowly creeping in, causing rust to build up inside. So this year, he’ll be having a makeover

The Christ the Redeemer is considered one of the most globally-known and significant monuments in the world. In addition to being a key part of Rio’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also plays a key role in the art scene as the largest Art Deco statue in the world standing at 98 feet tall on top of a 26-foot pedestal and with a 92-foot reach.

Stood upon the highest point of Corcovado mountain, makeovers or even whole renovations aren’t something new for Christ the Redeemer. It has already undergone a few touch-ups due to weather exposure, most noteably in February 2008 and January 2014 when lightning damaged several parts of the statue, including breaking off a finger.

Now the statue – which receives around three million visitors a year – needs more work to preserve its glory as the weather conditions continue to damage the exterior of this iconic monument. The funding for refurbishment will come from the Catholic Church which pays for the Christ’s maintenance. There are several issues they want to tackle this year. The first is a new conduction to help prevent further damage from lightning strikes which hit the statue on average six times a year. The second is replacing the parts of soapstone lining the Christ that are currently suffering from a moisture build up inside, leading to rust.

However, the Church is appealing for help to maintain and take care of the statue. It costs $1.84 million a year to maintain and manage Christ the Redeemer and the surrounding Tijuca National Park. This year, the Church will need additional funds to pay for the most serious damage to the Christ. The economic crisis in Brazil has dwindled money reserves across the board and the Church are considering other means to get the necessary funding.

One idea is to increase the ticket price to see the Christ the Redeemer. The group Friends of Christ the Redeemer was recently set up by Orani João Tempesta, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, to address this problem and help raise funds. Work will continue in the meantime to keep the exterior looking good for visitors with the hope of tackling more serious issues later this year.