Cristo Rei, also known as ‘Christ the King’ in English is a Catholic monument and shrine overlooking Lisbon.
It was erected to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. It’s a must-visit in Lisbon, primarily because of its resemblance to the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
Apart from the striking resemblance, standing right beneath Cristo Rei at 82 metres tall not only gives one a sense of awe, but the views that lie before you are one of a kind. Picture the 25 de Abril Bridge which bears a strong resemblance to the Golden Gate in San Francisco. One can spend a full afternoon watching the cars go by, passing along the Tagus River. It’s also a nice spot to watch the moving parts of Lisbon fit in seamlessly like clockwork.
It costs €5 to take the lift up to the observation spot, some 82m high. And it’s very worth the cost and the view.
Exploring the interior
Along the way to the elevator, you will be required to climb up a narrow flight of staircase. Not cool for those who are claustrophobic. Along the way, you will pass by several chapels where believers can enter to pray.
At the observation deck
Views from Cristo Rei’s lovely garden
A little bit of History
The construction of Cristo Rei was approved on a Portuguese Episcopate (Bishop) conference, held in Fátima (123km North of Lisbon) on 20 April 1940, as a plea to God to release Portugal from entering World War II. However, the idea had originated on a visit by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in 1934, soon after the inauguration of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in 1931.
Construction started in 1949 and took ten years to complete, funded and supported by Apostleship of Prayer members. Yet, it would only be in 1952 that the first construction would occur on the site.
The monument is erected on an isolated clifftop 133 metres above the sea, overlooking the left margin of the Tagus River. It is accessible from Lisbon by car (over the 25 de Abril Bridge east of the crossing), by train through the station in Pragal and by ferry (the Cacilheiro) over the Tagus, through the port of Cacilhas in Almada.
The monument consists of a trapezoidal pedestal of 82 metres height, formed from four arches with and flat platform, supporting the 28 metres image of Christ. Its base was designed by architect António Lino in the form of a gate, while the statue of Christ the King was designed by sculptor Francisco Franco de Sousa.
The four arches of the pedestal are oriented to the directions of the compass rose. The figure of Christ, comparable to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, forms a cross, with the arms extended out facing the city of Lisbon, as if to embrace the city. Due to issues of security and safety, the monument was sufficiently distanced from the cliffs on which it predominates.
Info credits: Wikipedia
The Travelling Squid’s Take
I don’t really have much of a take, other than the fact that Cristo Rei is one lovely sight that is definitely a must-go. Not only because it resembles Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, but also because of the 25 de Abril Bridge which resembles the Golden Gate in San Francisco. These monuments, despite being scaled down versions, were just perfect when placed in the proximity of one another.
Like a bird, it was also pretty cool to see the ebb and flow of cars travelling across the 25 de Abril Bridge back and from mainland Lisbon from the perching point of Cristo Rei’s feet.
To end this post, let me leave you with a photo reflecting the carefree teenage years that we once used to have (and still have, if you’re lucky). Hope you enjoyed the post!