Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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Christ the Redeemer of Corcovado gets a makeover for his 90th birthday

No one escapes the ravages of time, not even Christ the Redeemer who dominates Rio de Janeiro. For its 90th anniversary, the Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer, a huge art deco statue overlooking the bay of Rio, will undergo a vast restoration for its 90th anniversary.

The architect Cristina Ventura, in charge of the site, climbs the steps inside the statue and looks through a hole located in one of the open arms of Christ, inaugurated in 1931 and become one of the emblems of the “city wonderful “. “Exterior structure exposed to the elements experiences wear and tear due to sun, rain, lightning and temperature variations“Ms Ventura told AFP.

Situated 710 meters above sea level, atop Corcovado Hill, the 38-meter concrete statue normally receives nearly two million visitors per year. She will celebrate her 90th birthday in October. The restoration involves an in-depth analysis of the condition of the coating made up of thousands of small triangular hand-cut stones, its iron reinforcement and moisture infiltration into the structure.

To achieve its ends, the restoration team will use precision photography and a team of climbers will search for defective areas and parts to be replaced. Marcos Sidnei, who coordinates the mountaineering team, is delighted to have the chance to see “a different landscape every day“depending on the configuration of the clouds, the light or the presence of fog over the city.

In 1921, the Catholic Church had organized a competition for the construction of a religious monument on the occasion of the centenary of the independence of Brazil (1822). Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa won the competition and devoted ten years to the project. The statue was executed by the French Paul Landowski. The monument was inaugurated on October 12, 1931. In 1973, it was declared a Historic Monument and classified in 2007 among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The coronavirus pandemic forced the authorities to close access to it between March and August 2020, the longest period on record without visitors.

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The restoration program, which will continue throughout the year, also aims to establish a preventive maintenance plan in order to avoid major damage in the future. Cristina Ventura is aware of the scale of the challenge to be met: “Christ the Redeemer welcomes the Brazilian population, it is a great responsibility and a great privilege“, she admits.

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