See the Resurrection of Robo-Jesus at this Religious Theme Park

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 11 2014 9:31 AM

Tierra Santa Buenos Aires: Where Christianity Meets Kitsch

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If you missed the resurrection of Christ, don't worry — it'll happen again at 10 minutes to the hour.

Every 60 minutes at the Tierra Santa religious theme park in Buenos Aires, a 40-foot statue of Christ rises from inside a plaster mountain as Handel's Messiah blasts out the hallelujahs. When the robo-Jesus has completed his ascent — a process that takes about a minute — he swivels, closes his eyes, and rotates his palms as if to say, "Look ma, no stigmata." Then it's back inside the mountain to await the next hour's resurrection.

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Tierra Santa, which claims to be the first religious theme park in the world, opened in 2000. Located next to a water park, it recreates Jesus-era Jerusalem in kitschy, cartoonish glory. Tableaus of biblical scenes feature mannequins with exaggerated features: sleaze-faced centurions; a shepherd with Mr. Universe muscles; a disco-lit Virgin Mary. Visitors are welcome to take snapshots within the scenes — just crouch next to grimacing Jesus as his back is whipped into a bloody pulp and smile for the iPhone.

It's not all plaster and fiberglass at Tierra Santa: human employes in era-appropriate garb weave among the mannequins to serve food and change trash bags. During Easter a team of actors performs the Stations of the Cross — fake blood streams down the bare torso of the long-haired, bearded man playing Jesus as he is helped onto a cross and crucified for the tourists. Following his resurrection he happily poses for photos alongside the woman playing Mary.

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Jerusalem, with Buenos Aires in the background.

Photo: Kevin Jones/Creative Commons

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An actor portrays Jesus being scourged during the Stations of the Cross.

Photo: Beatrice Murch/Creative Commons

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Jesus and Mary pose with fans.

Photo: Beatrice Murch/Creative Commons

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The 40-foot Jesus that rises every hour.

Photo: Brian Allen/Creative Commons

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Resurrected Jesus, celebrated with fireworks.

Photo: Beatrice Murch/Creative Commons


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