By Hakan Almerfors, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Corcovado means humpback in Portuguese, it is the resemblance from a distance that gave the mountain its name. The train to the top was inaugurated in 1884 by the emperor Dom Pedro II. It was then powered by a steam engine, in 1910 it turned electric. The reason for building the train was the spectacular view from the top, it was a success from the start – today it is one of the most visited hilltops in the world.
The actual Christ Statue only came in to place in 1931. The original design was made by an engineer called Heitor da Silva Costa and was elected in a contest. After that several artists were involved, among them the Brazilian Carlos Oswald, and the French Paul Landowski who made the face. The material is steel enforced concrete with a protective layer of soap stone, standing 38 meters tall. The official name is O Cristo Redentor which is Christ the Redeemer in English.
The actual statue has not changed since it was finished, only renovated – the surrounding facilities has though. There has been a few changes of trains, the last in 1979. A big improvement came in 2003 when escalators and elevators were installed, making access to the top a lot easier for children, the elderly, and disabled.
The train to the top starts running at 8:30AM and the last one down is 6:30PM in the evening, the ride is about 20 minutes. The round trip costs R$45 and includes entrance, children under 5 go for free. They leave from Cosme Velho which you can reach from Copacabana and Ipanema with bus 583 or 584 – from subway station Largo do Machado with 422 or 498.
A taxi is more convenient and a time saver. If you are a few people you can save a bit of money by going up halfway and catching a van the last bit, the price for the van is R$12 per person round trip which includes the entrance fee.
Before you go make sure that there is visibility at the top since it is quite often covered in clouds. Since the statue is visible from almost all places in Zona Sul it is easy to find out – if you can see him it is ok. Bring a sweater since it can get a bit chilly up there. It gets really crowded high season, holidays and weekends – getting there as early as possible is then to recommend.
The official site for the train and the statue is corcovado.com.br, here you have lots of good info, history and photos.
Hakan Almerfors is Swedish and has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He has been working with tourists ever since, in 2007 he created the Rio travel information site Gringo-Rio.com