Don’t be surprised if someone tells you that one of the best views of Lisbon can be found in Almada, on the other side of the river. From the top of “Cristo Rei”, a monument standing at 110 meters tall and 215 meters above sea level, the view is panoramic and breathtaking. Located in the Sanctuary of Christ the King, with eyes fixed on Lisbon and arms open towards the river, it is no coincidence that this Christ is similar to Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It was from across the Atlantic that the inspiration came when, on a trip to Brazil in 1934, the then Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, D. Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, imagined a similar monument in Lisbon. Two years later, the cardinal shared this desire with the Apostolate of Prayer, who received the idea with enthusiasm. What followed was national approval, with the bishops designating Christ the King (Cristo Rei) as the “monument of peace”, in reference to the fact that Portugal stayed out of World War II which and also houses the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace.
Height of Christ Statue
Meters above sea level
Opening of Christ Statue
The first stone of the construction was laid at the end of 1949, and the sanctuary, designed by the architect António Lino and engineer Francisco de Mello e Castro, was only inaugurated a decade later on May 17, 1959, after a national fundraising campaign. The statue of Christ the King, created by sculptor Francisco Franco, was built into the structure itself, using plaster molds prepared from a model. A total of about 40,000 tons of concrete were used. “After being built, it was hand-carved with meticulous work, developed more than 100 meters above the ground,” reads the official website of the monument. It is worth noting that the statue, which stands on a 75-meter pedestal, is 28 meters high – a curiosity is that the distance between the hands of Christ the King is exactly the same as the height of the body, 28 meters.
Today, Cristo Rei is a highly sought-after tourist attraction, partly due to its impressive views, both towards Lisbon and Almada, in a radius of over 25 kilometers. The viewpoint is at the foot of the statue and is accessible by elevator. On clear sky days, facing the river, landmarks such as the Jerónimos Monastery, the Ajuda Palace, the Necessidades Palace, the Belém Tower, the São Vicente de Fora Monastery, the São Jorge Castle, or the Vasco da Gama Bridge can be seen. At the back, the Seixal bay, the straw sea, the Arrábida mountain range, and the Palmela Castle.
In 1999, the Diocese of Setúbal took over the sanctuary and carried out important improvement works, not only in the monument but also in the area, which is also highly sought after for religious or non-religious events.”
A monument of peace.
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