Rivalled only by Las Tres Cruces, Cristo Rey is Cali’s most striking landmark. The Christ figure stands 26 meters tall atop Los Cristales mountain to the west of the city, 1,474 meters above sea level.
Work on Cristo Rey began in 1949 under the direction of a jesuit priest named José María Arteaga who contracted artist Gerardo Navia Carvajal to execute the project. However, when Navia Carvajal wasn’t able to finish, the Italian sculptor Alideo Tazzioli Fontanini stepped in. The monument was officially inaugurated in 1953.
More than a religious pilgrimage, tourists and locals make the journey up to Cristo Rey for the opportunity to literally see Cali from a different perspective. On a clear day, its unique vantage point offers the best view of the city.
There is no public transportation up to Cristo Rey so most people take a car – a taxi from the city core costs about $20,000 COP each way. It would be wise to have the driver wait for you as getting a new taxi when you want one could be difficult. Most people don’t spend very much time up there – just enough to take a few good pictures and enjoy some of the traditional treats being sold by vendors.
Some visitors take motorcycles up, others ride bicycles, and a small minority walk. However, walking from the city would take well over an hour, so it isn’t recommended.
There is a small fee to park and then a short walk the rest of the way up to the actual monument, although visitors with mobility issues can drive right up to the entrance where it’s level. Entrance is free, but anyone offering services (i.e. photographers or guides) will likely expect payment.
It’s best to plan your trip for sometime between 9:00am and 6:30pm. Cristo Rey isn’t usually crowded, but it’s busiest on weekends (and it does, in fact, become a pilgrimage site around Easter).
Oh, and yes, there are washrooms.