A travel company boss has captured what could be the ultimate selfie after photographing himself at the top of Brazil’s iconic Christ The Redeemer statue.
Very few people are able to climb the landmark in Rio de Janeiro, but Lee Thompson was able to convince the Brazilian tourist board to let him scale the monument.
It took the 31-year-old almost half an hour to reach the summit of 124ft-high statue, climbing narrow steps where a single misplaced move would have resulted in serious injury, or worse.
The ultimate selfie? Travel company boss Lee Thompson was allowed to climb the 130ft-high Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, taking a selfie as he reached the top
Head for heights: It took the 31-year-old almost half an hour to reach the summit of 124-foot statue, climbing narrow steps where a single misplaced move would have resulted in serious injury, or worse
However, it was all worth it for the Londoner when he poked his head out of the top of the statue to be met by the sight of the sprawling city below.
He then managed to take a photograph of himself in one of the greatest ever selfies.
Mr Thompson, who co-founded group travel firm www.theflashpack.co.uk, said: ‘I think it must be the first selfie from the top of Christ The Redeemer.
‘The climb took 25 minutes. They had been repairing it after a lightning storm and we managed to convince the Brazilian tourist board to allow us to climb to the top.
World at his feet: Very few people are able to climb the landmark in Rio de Janeiro, but Mr Thompson was able to convince the Brazilian tourist board to let him scale the monument
‘It was extremely hot, eerily quiet and claustrophobic. It was really quite scary.
‘The last bit sees you climbing a tiny, very tight staircase and if you fall, you fall a long way.
‘When I popped my head out of the top it took my breath away. The view really was incredible. It is the most fun selfie I’ve taken and one of my favourite photos.
‘Everyone says it is crazy and it makes them feel sick just looking at it.
‘I have had lots of messages from Brazilians who say it is something they have always wanted to do.
‘Very few people have ever been able to do it.’
Iconic: The Christ The Redeemer statue is one of Brazil’s most famous landmarks, and will no doubt be visted by hundreds of football fans as they flock to the country for this month’s World Cup
A SYMBOL OF BRAZILIAN CHRISTIANITY: THE HISTORY OF RIO DE JANEIRO’S CHRIST THE REDEEMER
Standing atop the 2,300ft-high Corcovado mountain, overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the statue of Christ The Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor in Portuguese, is one of the South American country’s most iconic landmarks.
The statue, depicting Jesus Christ and used as a symbol of Brazilian Christianity, was the largest Art Deco statue in the world when it was completed in 1931, a record which stood until 2010 when it was beaten by the Christ the King statue in Poland.
The statue itself is 98ft tall, and it stands atop a 26ft pedestal. Its arms reach 92 ft wide and the statue, made out of reinforced concrete and soapstone, weighs 635 tonnes.
Work began on the statue in 1922, after it was first proposed by Catholic priest Pedro Maria Boss in the mid-1850s, who requested money from Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil to build a large religious monument on Corcovado.
However, the regent, ruling on behalf of her father Pedro II, was not keen on the idea and it was dismissed outright in 1889 when Brazil became a republic with laws mandating the separation of church and state.
In 1920 a second scheme for a statue on the mountain was put forward by the Catholic Circle of Rio, funded by donations from Brazilian Catholics, and other designs considered included Christian cross, a statue of Jesus with a globe in his hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world.
Local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa designed the winning statue, which was then sculpted by Polish-French artist Paul Landowski, with the face created by Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida.
Construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931 and cost the equivalent of $250,000, worth around $3,300,000 in today’s money.
In October 2006, on the statue’s 75th anniversary, Archbishop of Rio Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid consecrated a chapel named after the patron saint of Brazil – Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or ‘Our Lady of the Apparition’ – under the statue. This allows Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings at the site.
The monument has been struck by lightning many times, including during an electrical storm in February 2008 where it suffered damage on the fingers, head and eyebrows.
The Rio de Janeiro state government commenced a restoration project on the statue to replace part of the soapstone layers and repair its lightning rods. However, in January this year it was damaged again in a storm and a finger on the right hand was dislodged.
Due to strong winds and erosion, as well as lightning, maintenance work is regularly carried out on the statue, and as the original stone used is increasingly rare replacement stones are darker in colour.
The statue is one of the best-known symbols of Brazil and has featured in a number of films, music videos and television shows, including Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us, the disaster film 2012, in which it crumbles after an earthquake, animated films Rio and Rio 2, and television series Hustle.