Bolivian mining town erects giant Virgin statue that rivals Rio's Christ

The Bolivian mining city of Oruro inaugurated its carnival celebrations by unveiling a huge $1.2 million statue of the Virgin Mary that rivals Brazil's Rio de Janeiro’s famed Christ the Redeemer, reported Los Tiempos (in Spanish).

The Virgin of Socavón is almost 150 feet (45 meters) high – slightly shorter than New York's Statue of Liberty and 23 feet (seven meters) higher than Rio's Christ. It's built of cement, iron and fiberglass to withstand the fierce winds of the high plain.

During Oruro’s carnival, recognized as part of the patrimony of humanity by UNESCO, more than 30,000 people dance in procession through the streets each year. They honour the Virgin of Socavon, the patron saint of the silver mining town of roughly 250,000 people.

Founded in the early 17th century, Oruro owes its existence to the mineral-rich range of hills rising 350 meters behind it. Rich in copper, silver and tin, those hills still are the city’s economic backbone. Most mines in the area, however, have closed down and the town is trying to boost its tourist attractions instead.

(Image courtesy of Levant TV via YouTube)