This is maybe Rio's most famous postcard: the Statue of Christ blessing the city with open arms. It can be seen from most South Side neighborhoods. The statue stands on the hill of Corcovado, which is 710 m tall (about 2,400 feet). The Statue of Christ stands 30 meters high (100 feet), covered in a mosaic of soapstone. On its base there is a small chapel.
The access to the statue is much easier now that they installed a set of escalators. They were carefully designed in a way not to interfere with the monument, and the results were quite good. This spot offers a 360° view to Rio. Come on a day with clear sky, and postcard photos are guaranteed.
You may prefer to go with a group on a guided tour, so you have someone giving you tips about the city's geography, the neighborhoods and some landmarks and attractions. The train ride up the mountain is a plus, as it goes through a nature trail. And the special charm is that Estrada de Ferro do Corcovado was originally built in 1882 by Emperor Dom Pedro II.
Unlike what you may have heard, this statue was not a gift of France (we're not talking about the Statue of Liberty here guys...) The original design was done by a Brazilian, named Heitor da Silva Costa. He was also the engineer in charge of the construction. He shared the project with French sculptor Paul Landowski, who took almost two years working on the hands and face. It was built from 1926 to 1931, with funds raised from donations. There's a chapel for 150 people on the base of the statue.
If you go on your own, take a taxi to Rua Cosme Velho, 513. This is where you buy tickets for the small train that goes uphill. On your way back make sure to stop at the Museum of Naïf Art, just 30 meters away (see museum). Largo do Boticário is another attraction in the area, with a number of houses carefully reconstructed in colonial style. From this area you can reach Paineiras, one of the most agreeable spots of the Tijuca Forest.