EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Mount Cristo Rey is easy to spot from just about any place in El Paso.

It can be admired not only from afar but up close.

The two and a half mile trek to the top of the mountain leads you to a 29-foot statue of Jesus Christ, but there is more to this piece of limestone than meets the eye.

“This is a project that was started in the early 30’s it was by a priest who was assigned here to the smelter town parish and he had the vision to build a monument here at the top of this mountain,” said Ruben Escandon Jr., head of the Mount Cristo Rey Restoration Committee.

Escandon says the history of the Borderland staple is known through the diary of a priest named Lourdes P. Costa. His writing take us back to when he looked at the mountain and the idea to build the statue was born.

“We encourage people that are interested in that history interested in the artistic side to come in and visit and come in and take a look,” Escandon said. “This is something that is unique to the U.S. there are very few monuments of this nature that occurred.”

Hiking to the summit takes about 45 minutes. Longer if you stop to admire the multiple Catholic shrines guiding the way.

When you reach the top of Mount Cristo Rey you can see two countries and three states, all at the same time. On one side, New Mexico with the state of Chiuahaha, Mexico on the other side and if you pan around you can see parts of Texas.

“The artistic value of what’s up there is a world-class a world-renowned sculptor that built this monument and unfortunately because of the location sometimes people miss it because it’s hard to get to,” Escandon said.

The mountain is also the site of two traditional pilgrimages every year: one during Holy Week and the other in October for the anniversary of when the monument was built. Escandon said the pilgrimages brings thousands of faithful to the Borderland.

The mountain has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the park is expected to reopen soon. To check when if it is open you can visit the Mount Cristo Rey website.

Once it is open, visitors are encouraged to call 915-252-9840 before going.