Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ~ Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain

January 14th ~ Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer Statue

This was to be our last full day in Brazil and we still had some “must see” places left to visit. 

Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor)

Aerial view (picture on wall at entry)

Sitting on top of Corcovado Mountain, overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, the statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms has become a symbol of peace.

View from Corcovado showing Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay

  • The statue is made of concrete, with an outer layer of soapstone
  • 98 feet tall (30m)
  • Arms extend 92 feet (28m)
  • Took nine years to build (constructed between 1922 and 1931)
  • Cost to build $250,000 USD (would be equivalent to $3,400,000 in 2017)
  • Located in Tijuca Forest National Park
  • Listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

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There is an escalator to take you up to the viewing platform which is right at the base of the statue. On a clear day, the views of Rio, Sugarloaf and the bay are spectacular.

In 2006, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the statue’s completion, a chapel under the statue was consecrated which now allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings there.

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral (The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian)

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian

We have visited a GREAT number of churches and cathedrals over the years.

Not to take anything away from the classic grandeur of the famous places such as Westminster Abbey in London, Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or Notre Dame in Paris, but sometimes seeing something original and different is refreshing.

Does this compare to these masterpieces? No, of course not, but still I give them high marks for creating a place of worship that is not stuffy. Instead this church is open, modern and airy where everyone can feel welcome.

For me that was also part of the appeal of seeing La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Interior looking up at ceiling

“This massive Brazilian church is built like an angular, Technicolor pyramid left by Mayans from the future…. Elaborate churches can be found all across the world, showing off the glory of God through the language of architecture, but the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral may be the only one that looks like an angular beehive from the future.” ~

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  • Built between 1964 and 1979
  • Design based on Mayan architectural style of pyramids
  • 5,000 seats
  • Standing room for 20,000 people
  • There is a museum in the basement

Selaron Steps (aka Escadaria Selarón, aka Lapa Steps)

Escadaria Selaron (Selaron Steps)

Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón was the master-mind behind the steps, claiming them to be “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. As a painter and sculptor, he traveled the world before eventually settling in Rio.

The “steps project” originally began simply in 1990 as a means to repair and beautify the area in front of his home. Using tile fragments in  blue, green and yellow tiles – the colours of the Brazilian flag, many of which were scavenged from construction sites and waste found on the streets.

In later years, most of the tiles were donated by visitors from all around the world.

Name written in hand painted tiles

“It started out as a side-project to his main passion, painting, but soon became an obsession. He found he was constantly out of money, so Selarón sold paintings to fund his work. It was long and exhausting work but he continued on and eventually covered the entire set of steps in tiles, ceramics and mirrors.” ~ Wikipedia

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  • Officially known as Manuel Carneiro street
  • The steps connect the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa
  • There are 215 steps
  • They are covered in over 2000 tiles
  • 300 tiles were of a pregnant African woman hand-painted by Selarón
  • Tiles were collected/donated from over 60 countries around the world.
  • On January 10, 2013, Selarón was found dead with burn marks on his body on the famous Lapa steps.
  • Today the mystery remains unsolved if it was murder or suicide

Here is another article about Selarón, “Death on the Stairs” with more pictures of the colorful stairs if you are interested.

Lapa Neighborhood

Lapa Neighborhood (near the base of the stairs)

Not only were the steps flashy, but so is the neighborhood. In fact I found the dilapidated structures and bohemian culture equally, if not more, fascinating than the artistry of Selarón.

Known for their music and nightlife, the local establishments are “bursting with passionate self-expression and all-night energy” per Airbnb.

“Since the 1950s, when it began to be called the “Montmartre Carioca”, Lapa attracted intellectuals, artists, politicians and especially the people of Rio, who come together to celebrate the samba, forró, MPB (música popular brasileira), choro and more recently, electronic music and rock.” ~ Wikipedia

During the daytime, things are a bit more calm. There are unquestionably a large number of tourists, which brings out the vendors and those wanting to capitalize on those of us carrying a camera. But beyond that, there is a certain magic and mystery on the street. Impromptu music, dancing, sidewalk cafes, people watching, street graffiti, partying, all come together in spite of the rotting facade.

Street vendors and wall art

Decaying splendor

I would have loved to simply pull up a chair along the sidewalk and watch as life passed me by in a most vivid fashion.

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But our day is flying by and we still have one more place to visit:

Sugarloaf Mountain

Known as Pão de Açúcar in Portuguese, the name Sugarloaf is said to come from the shape being similar to a traditional concentrated refined loaf of sugar.

“The name “Sugarloaf” was coined in the 16th century by the Portuguese during the heyday of sugar cane trade in Brazil. According to historian Vieira Fazenda, blocks of sugar were placed in conical molds made of clay to be transported on ships. The shape given by these molds was similar to the peak, hence the name. ~ Wikipedia

Having no idea what a “loaf of sugar” looked like, I had to look it up and found several images.

This is a “Loaf of Sugar” (courtesy of Wikipedia)

I now understand the name and think it fits! Today it is world-renowned for its glass-walled cable car ride and panoramic views of the city.

Sugarloaf Mountain

The cable car begins the climb at the base of Morro da Babilônia and stops at Morro da Urca. Here you to can either stay and explore or catch the second cable car that continues on to Sugarloaf’s summit.

Cable cars take you to the top of Morro da Urca and Sugarloaf Mountain

The mountain which contains both Sugarloaf and Morro da Urca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

Our local guide suggested that we proceed directly to the top, and check out the views from  Urca on the way down. So that is just what we did.

The views from the top of Sugarloaf were superb!

We also ran across several Marmosets which are not native to the area and are considered a pest. I thought they were quite charming myself 🙂


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Our time in Brazil was coming to an end as we tried to take in a few lingering moments as we watched the sun set over Rio from on top of Sugarloaf and her shorter sister.

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Sunset over Rio

GRATITUDE MOMENT: This was a long post as we wrapped up the final leg of our thirty days in South America. The Latin culture has warmed our hearts as they shared their stories, the ever-changing breathtaking scenery, a warm cup of mate, and more beef than I have eaten in the past several years. These are the types of memories I shall cherish in my dotage, sitting in my rocker, rereading posts and staring at multitudes of photos.

For those who have joined us on our South American Adventure, we hope you enjoyed the ride. As always, we are grateful for your company, encouragement and kind messages you have left us.

We are still trying to decide where our next big trip will take us, but you can be sure there will be some RV trips to check out more of our National Parks coming soon.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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40 Responses to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ~ Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain

  1. joylennick says:

    Thanks once more for your fabulous photos, Vibrant is a word which seems to fit Brazil like the proverbial glove, despite its undercurrent of violence and poverty gleaned from a recent TV programme Did you feel that at all, folks?. .


    • We too had been warned about the crime and violence in Brazil, but felt comfortable throughout our trip. Granted we were always with a small group of people, and had a local guide with us who could recommend places to go as well as areas to avoid. There was a large police presence, especially in the wealthy Ipanema area. I think, as in most large cities, that being aware of your surroundings, traveling with others, and staying sober helps.


  2. Pingback: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ~ Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain — A Note From Abroad

  3. ospreyshire says:

    That looks amazing. I didn’t realize it was called sugarloaf mountain. That sort of reminds me of El Panicillo in Quito, Ecuador with the Virgin Mary statue overlooking the city.


  4. Darlene says:

    Wow! What fabulous photos. You really did get to experience everything Rio has to offer. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Arati says:

    Your photos and commentaries have given me a tangible sense of the places you have visited over this past month. I so appreciate you sharing your journey in such a detailed manner. I enjoyed traveling with you.


  6. Penny Rambacher says:

    Great photos. You have helped change my impression of Rio. I was there in the 90s, and had a bad experience there and it was too cloudy and raining to see the beauty. But, I see I need to return and see it in a better light.


    • I’m so sorry you had a bad experience in Rio. Someday you will have to fill me in on what happened. I’m not sure if it was just rotten weather you are referring to, or something else. Sunshine definitely makes any destination better 😃


  7. joliesattic says:

    Very Cool. Those marmosets are smaller than I imagined them to be. What an interesting place. I heard it could be quite dangerous though. I take it you


  8. Beautiful images. Maybe someday, I’ll get there!


  9. Loved following your South American journey. Much was new, but Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls and Rio photos brought back great memories. Thanks for sharing.


  10. Maxxtrails says:

    Wow the pictures of the church and sunset are amazing! Thank you so much for taking us along on your journey through South America 🙂


    • Although we were looking forward to coming home, it was still a little sad to have such a wonderful adventure come to a close. Wasn’t that church different? I always enjoy seeing a place I’ve never seen before, finding a different perspective, or learning something new. Traveling has certainly enriched our lives. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. We have never been to South America. Thanks for the grand virtual tour!


  12. Terry says:

    Wonderful, thank you for letting us be part of your adventure.


  13. Gaye O'Brien says:

    Thanks for sharing your holiday, a wonderful job with photos and description, we really enjoyed your adventures from our arm chairs.


  14. Widdershins says:

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your adventures with us … for the pictures and your ‘voice’. 😀


  15. TracyNicole says:

    Thanks for sharing such fun and beauty on your trip! Do you ever find on the longer trips that you tire of eating out and long for foods at home? That is one challenge I’ve had; while I loved our week long cruises and our week out west and all the different foods we were able to try I’m always ready to come home and make some of our favorites.


    • Hi Tracy Nicole, yes, as a mater of fact. Normally, even on long trips I am fine with eating out, but this time all the heavy meals, especially the large amounts of meat started to get to me. At home we eat closer to a pescatarian diet, with lots of salads, soup, fruit and vegetables. I’m not someone who loves to cook, but it did feel good being back in my own kitchen.


  16. Lots of great photos, Joanne. My favorite turned out to be the last one of the sunset over Rio.


  17. curvyroads says:

    What a lovely finale to an epic trip! Beautiful photos of the spectacular scenery in Rio!

    I am also looking forward to hearing where you plan to go next. 😀


    • Rio offered up some beautiful vistas, inviting sandy beaches, splashy colors and a rhythm all her own. I’m appreciative that we got to experience the highlights. Our next adventure will probably be a road trip in our little RV, but the destination is still undecided. Thank you so much for your always cheerful support 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Frank Chrabas says:

    Thank you for your wonderful and timely reviews and photos. Anne and I (South Africa) are presently in Buenos Aires on the ten day Gate 1 tour of Rio,Iguazu Falls,BA. Your blogs were more relevant than any other research I did for this trip. How would you compare the overall value of Intrepid vs. Gate !. ? Safe travels.


    • Hello Frank and Anne! Both companies have strong points. Overall, I prefer the quality of Gate 1. The hotels are an upgrade, food included (especially breakfast) were larger selection, guides perhaps more experienced. Itinerary of major sights to see seem to be comparable. Intrepid hotels are sometimes located better for walking to see city center, but quality of rooms can be poor. Intrepid also sometimes offers what I consider more “immersion” with local experiences as options. So glad our blog helped give you some better insights.


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