The seven-story Christ of the Ozarks statue continues to be one of the most visited attractions in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The beloved statue overlooks the picturesque village that hosts the annual Great Passion Play.
The concept for the project began with Gerald L. K. Smith, who envisioned a life-sized theme park of ancient Jerusalem. In 1964, Smith raised a million dollars to build The Christ of Ozark statue, hiring the designer and sculptor, Emmet Sullivan, who had been part of the team that sculpted Mt. Rushmore. The statue was dedicated in 1966 and is the third-tallest Jesus statue in the world (surpassed only by two other statues in South America).
Standing atop of Magnetic Mountain at an altitude of 1,500 feet, the statue had to have its feet removed to lower the height. If not, federal regulations would have required a red light to be installed on the top of Jesus’ head to warn aircraft.
Smith’s projects also included a 4,100-seat amphitheater on the same land as the statue. This is the site of seasonal, annual outdoor performances of The Great Passion Play. It is performed five nights a week from the first week of May through the end of October.
The entire sculpture was built by hand, made of 24 layers of white mortar on a steel frame and weighs over two million pounds. The foundation, which is virtually welded into the rock of the mountain, required 340 tons of concrete interlaced with steel.
Smith considered The Christ of The Ozarks as “a gesture of thanks” to Eureka Springs, as he had searched the country looking for a town that would allow its construction. Visitors can pay their respects to Smith and his wife, who are buried within the shadow cast by the Christ statue.
More than 500,000 people come to view the Christ of the Ozarks statue each year. In appreciation of a gift of any amount, you can light the Christ of the Ozarks for one night in honor of a loved one. The foundation will post your special dedication on its Facebook page.
The Christ of The Ozarks statue is located at 937 Passion Play Rd. in Eureka Springs, AR.
For more information, visit www.greatpassionplay.org.