The statue of Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) perched atop the 710-metre high Corcovado mountain attracts half a million visitors a year, and no amount of hyperbole can do justice to the views of Rio that its peak affords. The statue itself, measuring 30 metres high and weighing 1,145 tonnes, was opened to the public on 12 October 1931, despite having first been mooted to the powers that be as early as the 1850s, since when the open arms have been a permanent plea for peace facing out towards Guanabara Bay.
In order to reduce the congestion around the Cosme Velho tram station, from where the red machines whisk visitors upwards on a 20-minute journey through the lush greenery, in May 2013 the authorities closed the ticket office. From then on, advance purchases were made compulsory either online at corcovado.com.br (involving a tiresome registering process that also requires a CPF, the Brazilian social security number) or at the central tourist office in Candelária (Rua Candelária 6, Centro). As part of the changes, the other option, scores of mini-vans, now leave from Largo do Machado where an official kiosk has been set up, and although it is still possible to get a taxi to the halfway point at Paineiras and continue by van to the summit, these tickets also have to be bought in advance.
Don't forget to check the forecast before taking the trip because the clouds can roll in seemingly from nowhere and reduce the visibility to just a few metres rather than miles. On a clear day, the panorama of Guanabara Bay, the long curve of Copacabana and the vast Lagoa, flanked by the racecourse with Pedra da Gávea off in the distance, is magnificent.