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Corcovado and the Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro

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Rio de Janeiro
Brazil's insider take:

Rio's equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, this 125-foot-high statue of Christ has an arm-span of more than 90 feet. Sculpted in France, it was installed in 1931 on top of Corcovado—or Hunchback mountain—which rises some 2,300 feet above the city and sea. It serves as a geographical reference point in most parts of the city and reminds you that you're in an unmistakable place: You're in Rio! Is it worth actually visiting, though? Yes—for the best views of the city, but only on a clear day (Rio's skyline can descend into a smoggy haze). The peak can be reached by a very slow, crowded train (the Corcovado Rack Railway), but it's faster, cheaper, and easier to hire a taxi instead. The steep, winding road runs through the Tijuca Forest—an enormous rain-forest-covered park. Once there, you can walk the 200-step staircase or take the escalators to the base of the statue and admire Christ's smooth, beneficent face and expressive posture. But it's the amazing view of greater Rio that helps you understand how all its elements work together: Sugarloaf, the beaches, the lake, and the glittering sea beyond.

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