Towering Heritage

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View across Lisbon,  May 2017

There is a towering obelisk hovering over Lisbon, visible from almost every point in the city.  Simply cast your glance across the river, slightly to your right and there he is: a statue of Christ with outstretched arms gazes back towards the city.

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It stands 133m above sea level at the highest point in the district of Almada.   Christ the King is 28 meters tall and stands atop a reinforced concrete pedestal that measures 75 metres in height.  Visitors can hop onto a lift to be whisked up to the top for a closer encounter, plus wonderful views of Lisbon and surrounding areas.

The heritage of this figure dates back to the 1930s when the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon conceived the idea of giving Lisbon a figure similar to Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.  The concept was approved by the Lisbon bishops in 1937, but the commencement of work was delayed by the outbreak of World War II.  Although Portugal remained neutral throughout the war, it was not considered the time for non-essential construction work.  In 1940, the bishops made a vow that if Portugal was spared from the war the monument of Christ would be built.  Fund raising efforts increased and the first stone was laid in December 1949.

The monument was finally unveiled in May 1959, at which ceremony Cardinal Cerejeira declared that “this monument will always be a national sign of gratitude for the gift of peace”.

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Cristo Rei up close,  May 2017

 

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Copyright Debbie Smyth, 21 May 2017

 

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