Brazil's Towering Icon

Statue of Christ the Redeemer

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Gazing down upon bikini-clad sun worshipers along Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana Beach as well as the impoverished residents of the city's often violent slums, the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of the world's best-known landmarks. Completed in 1931, the concrete-and-soapstone statue rises some 12 stories from its base to a height of nearly 2,300 feet atop Mount Corcovado. The site draws about 300,000 tourists a year. Inspiring, yes, but it was not until October 2006 that it became a sacred place. On the statue's 75th anniversary, Rio's Roman Catholic archbishop, Cardinal Eusébio Oscar Scheid, consecrated the small chapel under the statue that now is used for religious ceremonies such as baptisms and marriages.