And these statues shall reign forever and ever.
The little-known town of Encantado, in southern Brazil, has grabbed international headlines with the news that it’s constructing a gigantic Jesus statue even bigger than the world-famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
At 43 meters (140 feet) Christ the Protector will be five meters taller than its Rio counterpart. But it’s not the first statue to knock Rio’s Cristo off his perch. There are gigantic Christ statues all over the world, with a succession of locales proudly declaring their own Jesus as the “World’s Tallest.”
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Rio statue turns 90-years-old this year, and its crowd-pulling success has spawned copycat Christs around the world, some of which have been notably more successful than others. Here’s our round-up of some of the biggest and best Christ statues around the world.
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Christ the King
WHERE: Świebodzin, Poland
Inaugurated in 2010 and measuring 52.5 meters (172 feet) including its pedestal and five-meter crown, the Polish Christ towers over its Brazilian counterpart. The statue itself measures 33 meters, representing one meter per year that Christ lived, according to the statue’s creator, Priest Sylwester Zawadzki. The statue has brought fame to a Polish town that otherwise flies under the international tourism radar, and local officials are justifiably proud of its status as the tallest Christ statue in the world.
In 2018, Christ the King made headlines once again when Polish tabloid newspaper drones spotted WiFi antennas inside the crown. The local religious community declared it an offense, and the antennas were removed later the same year on the orders of the local bishop.
Jesus Buntu Burake
WHERE: Makale, Indonesia
Swathed in clouds on a hilltop more than 1,000 meters above sea level, this statue in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is another monument that once jostled for the crown of the Tallest Christ in the World. The statue itself measures 40 meters (131 feet) from head to foot, which makes it considerably taller than the Polish version without its crown and pedestal. Inaugurated in 2015, it’s a relatively new addition to the worldwide Christ collection, but already attracts hordes of curious visitors and religious pilgrims to this scenic mountainous region of Indonesia.
Christ of the Peace
WHERE: Cochabamba, Bolivia
Bolivia’s Cristo de la Concordia was inspired by the Rio de Janeiro version and was the tallest Jesus statue in the world at the time of its inauguration in 1994. The statue measures just over 33 meters (108 feet) without its pedestal, edging over the Rio version by mere centimeters. The local Catholic community in Cochabamba claims this befits the fact that Christ lived to be “33 years and a bit.”
INSIDER TIPThe dramatic statue stands proud atop San Pedro Hill overlooking Bolivia’s third-largest city, and can be reached by cable car, but many religious visitors and prefer to make the steep climb on foot.
Christ of the Knoll
WHERE: Palencia, Spain
Built in 1931 by Spanish sculptor Victorio Macho, the Cristo del Otero is a somewhat spooky landmark on a hillock (the knoll for which it is named) outside an under-the-radar town in Northern Spain. Although its design owes a little to the Art Deco style that characterizes the Rio Cristo (built just a few years before this one), its hollow eyes and narrow face give it a more maudlin appearance than its Brazilian counterpart. Local lore has it that the original plans were to fill the eyes with ivory and marble, but then the budget ran short. Unlike many Christ statues, this version holds its hands forward in a peaceful, almost submissive gesture, rather than with its arms stretched wide. But for all its apparent humility, it’s still one of the largest Christ statues in the world, at 21 meters (69 feet) tall.
Christ the King
WHERE: Almada, Portugal
Facing Lisbon from a clifftop pedestal on the southern bank of the River Tagus, the Cristo Rei has a magnificent view over the city, which can be appreciated via an internal lift elevating visitors to a lofty vantage point. Inspired by a visit to the more famous statue in Portuguese-colonized Brazil, the statue was commissioned in 1940, and the religious community saw it as a plea to Higher Powers to spare Portugal from the horrors of World War II. Construction work began in 1949 and took 10 years to complete.
From 2016 to early 2021, the statue gazed across the river to a colorful female statue (playfully dubbed the Crista Rainha, or “Christ the Queen”) standing with arms aloft atop Rio Maravilha rooftop bar in Lisbon’s hip LX Factory complex. The statue was removed with the closure of Rio Maravilha (a casualty of the COVID pandemic) but locals hope she will be back.
Christ the King
WHERE: Chamonix, France
Sitting on a rocky outcrop in the middle of dense pine forest and overlooking the Mont Blanc mountain range (this is celebrated skiing territory), this 25-meter (82 feet) Christ has plenty of French panache. Inaugurated in 1933, Christ-Roi stands at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,900 feet), towering 200 meters (656 feet) above the valley below, and is often dusted with snow in the winter months. With one arm raised towards the sun, is a dramatic sight at any time of year. There’s a small Art Deco chapel at the base, and narrow staircases leading to a viewing platform with astonishing views. The statue was built at the behest of Claude Marie Delassiat, priest of Les Houches at the time, and the architectural flourishes are the result of a collaboration between French sculptor Georges Serraz and architect Viggo Féveille. A two-ton bell, fitted in the tower at the end of WWII, still rings out over the valley today.
Heart of Jesus
WHERE: Harghita, Romania
Looking like something from a sci-fi movie, Romania’s futuristic metal Christ is part look-out point, part statue. At nearly 23 meters (72 feet), the stainless steel behemoth sits atop Gordon Hill, on the outskirts of Lupeni village in Transylvania. Finished in 2011, it’s the work of sculptor Walter Zawaczky and its lofty vantage point more than 950 meters (3,116 feet) above sea level makes it the highest sculpture in Eastern Europe. Visitors can ascend a series of metal staircases to stand inside the head of the statue and take in sweeping views over the surrounding countryside.
Christ the Protector
WHERE: Encantado, Brazil
The name of the town means “Enchanted,” and this mammoth statue, due to be finished before the end of 2021, does have a captivating appeal. Towering five meters above the celebrated statue in Rio, the statue will have an internal elevator hoisting visitors up to viewing platforms where they can soak in the wide gaucho plains. It’s a poignant tribute to local politician Adroaldo Conzatti, who came up with the idea for the statue but died before its completion after contracting COVID-19 in early 2021.
Christ of the Abyss
WHERE: Portofino, Italy
While most Christ constructors compete to get their statues as close to the heavens as possible, a few have dived in the opposite direction. The most notable example, Christ of the Abyss is an underwater statue just off the coast of Portofino in the Italian Riviera, submerged more than 15 meters (50 feet) deep. Sculptor Guido Galleti created the statue in 1954 at the behest of Italian diver Duilio Marcante, who wanted to honor fellow diver Dario Gonzatti. The first diver to use scuba gear, Gonzatti tragically died in a diving accident at the spot in 1947.
Like the Rio statue, this underwater Christ has spawned several imitations–the most famous being the U.S. version, installed in 1965 off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.
Christ the Redeemer
WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The world’s most famous Christ statue, Rio’s Cristo Redentor is the largest Art Deco monument in the world. A labor of love representing the combined efforts of the 1920s Brazilian Catholic authorities and French-Polish sculptor Paul Landowski, it took nine years to complete.
This carioca Christ is arguably Brazil’s most famous landmark and was elected one of the Seven New Wonders of the World in 2007, but it could have looked very different. Initial designs for the statue saw the figure holding a globe in one hand, an idea that locals ridiculed as “Christ with a Balloon.” Elisabeth Caillet, the granddaughter of sculptor Paul Landowski, believes the simple, elegant design is key to the statue’s global appeal. “The statue would not have been such a success in any other form. It had to have a timeless, universal aspect, and that’s exactly what my grandfather achieved.”
INSIDER TIPThe Christ statue is hit by lightning several times a year, and renovation work ahead of its 90th anniversary includes repairing storm damage and replacing the lightning rods that run along those outstretched arms.