Rio's Christ statue gets new life with restoration

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The Independent Online

The statue of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro was reinaugurated Wednesday after a renovation costing seven million Brazilian reals, or nearly four million dollars.

The renovation of the Christ the Redeemer statue, which has towered over the city for nearly 80 years, was financed by Brazilian mining giant Vale and the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Rio.

Vale will pay for maintenance through 2015 of the 38-meter (125-foot) tall monument, an icon of Rio and Brazil which is located at the peak of the Corcovado mountain overlooking the city.

The statue created by Frenchman Paul Landowski and inaugurated in 1931 had cracks and other damage from water and had lost part of its surface coating of soapstone and other materials.

Finding the same stone to keep the consistency of color was challenging for the restoration team, according to architect Marcia Braga, head of the project.

"The hardest part was finding the right color stone," Braga said Wednesday during a press conference.

The solution was to cut more than 60,000 small bits from the same quarry used at the time of construction of the statue.

The monument is visited by nearly two million visitors a year, more than the famous Sugarloaf mountain, another symbol of Rio.

The restoration also includes a new lighting system, which displays the green and yellow colors of Brazil at the time of the World Cup football tournament in South Africa.

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