Christ Statue Lisbon – How to visit Cristo Rei

The Christ Statue in Lisbon is called the Sanctuary of Cristo Rei (Chris the King). You can see it from Belem and most city viewpoints if you look to the other side of the river Tagus. It is one of the less visited monuments in the city of Lisbon, but if you have enough time it is worth the trip across the bridge.

Introducing the Christ Statue Lisbon

The Christ Statue in Lisbon is inspired by the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 28 meter tall statue of Christ was hand sculpted and stands on a concrete platform which increases the total height to approximately 110 meters. It was Inaugurated on 17 May 1959 and took 10 years to build (building started in 1949).

Christ statue in Lisbon
Looking at the Christ Statue Lisbon from behind

You can visit the official Lisbon Cristo Rei website here and the site is available in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.

Visiting the Cristo Rei in Lisbon

If you have more than a few days in Lisbon, it is well worth a visit to the Cristo Rei, particularly for the beautiful views from the top where you can see the bridge and the monuments of Belem. Allow a morning or an afternoon for this trip because it takes about 50 minutes to get there (bus and walking) and then you will need at least an hour looking around the monument and chapels and taking photos from the top.

Church in the Christ Statue Lisbon
Inside the Church at the base of the Sanctuary of Christ Lisbon

How to get to the Christ Statue Lisbon?

You can take a taxi across the bridge to Cristo Rei (tales 35 mins), but it is actually quite easy to take the bus. If you have a Viva Viagem card that you use for the Metro then you can top it up and use this on the bus that goes over the bridge – the 753. Jump on the 753 at Praça José Fontana and you will get off at the first stop on the other side of the bridge. If you can, get a window seat on the right side of the bus so that you see Belem as you cross the bridge – it’s very beautiful! The bridge that you cross is by the same company as the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge.

Christ Statue Lisbon viewpoint
View of the bridge from the viewpoint at the Christ Statue Lisbon

When you get off the bus you will need to cross the bridge and then walk upwards to your left towards Cristo Rei. It’s a pleasant short uphill walk with plenty of street art to see on the way!

Cristo Rei Street Art
Street art in Alfama depicting Cristo Rei
Tiles near Cristo Rei
Tile based art on the way up to Cristo Rei

You will also see some beautiful traditional Portuguese houses on your walk up to Cristo Rei.

Traditional Portuguese houses on the way up to Cristo Rei

Another option to get to Cristo Rei is to take a ferry across the Tagus from Cais do Sodre and then a bus or longer walk.

What is there to see at the Christ Statue Lisbon?

There is plenty to see and do at the Cristo Rei statue including a viewpoint, a cafe and the gardens which contain religious sculptures and stations of the cross.

Statue near the sanctuary

I would recommend that you pay to go inside the Cristo Rei – it’s just €6 to go inside and there is a lift that will take you all the way up to the top.

Entrance to Christ Statue Lisbon

You can walk around the base of the Cristo Rei sculpture. It has ‘God is love’ around the base in all different languages. The view from the top is fantastic so don’t forget your camera!

View of River Tagus from Cristo Rei
View from the top of Cristo Rei – photo by my friend SImon Buia

History of the Sanctuary of Cristo Rei in Lisbon

In 1934 the former Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon (D. Manuel G. Cerejeira) admired the Christ the Redeemer statue of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro and developed the dream to recreate it in Lisbon. He presented his idea to the Prayer Apostolate and it was enthusiastically received. He would also need the approval of the Portuguese Bishops – this was achieved and officially proclaimed in 1937.

Of course, the Second World War began in 1939 and this bought a whole new meaning to the idea of such a statue. In Fatima, in April of 1940 the Portuguese Bishops vowed that if Portugal was spared from the war then this monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ would be built over Lisbon. Portugal did not enter the war and consequently fundraising for the monument commenced.

On 8th December 1949 the first stone was placed and construction began. On 17th May 1959 (Pentecost’s Day) in front of the image of Our Lady of Fatima, the Cardinals from Rio de Janeiro and Lourenço Marques (Maputo) it was inaugurated in the presence of all of the Portuguese Episcopal priesthood.

In 1984, a general plan for the classification of the grounds was presented by architects Luis Cunha and Domingos Avila Gomes. It was approved on the 25th Anniversary of the Lisbon Cristo Rei. In this project, the Sanctuary welcome house was added for the head office and administration. They also added the chapel, meeting rooms and exhibition galleries.

In 1999 the Sanctuary’s tutelege was transferred to the Arch diocese of Setubal and priority was given to the restoration of the monument. Restoration started in May 2001 with the help of UNL-FCT – a science and technology university in Lisbon. It was reopened on 1st February 2002. The Portuguese Episcopal conference decided that all donations received throughout the country on 23rd November 2003 would be used for the restoration works. In 2004 the refectory was built and in 2005 two dormitories were inaugurated.

They continue to restore and improve the Sanctuary of Christ the King today.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Best Museums in Lisbon and Lisbon to Setubal

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