A heart-stopping, stomach-churning selfie taken atop Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue has gone viral for its vertigo and awe-inducing vantage point.

It’s being described as perhaps the most epic selfie ever, and for good reason: With the permission of Brazil’s tourism board, Briton Lee Thompson climbed to the top of the country’s most iconic monument and snapped an arm’s length selfie of himself that reveals the scale of the statue’s height from sea level.

What makes the photo even more impressive is the illusion that Thompson is standing precariously unanchored on top of the statue. In reality, he’s simply popped out from the stairs that take workers to the top of Jesus’s head.

“When I arrived at the foot of the ... statue and saw the platform awash with a sea of tourists, the gravity of what I was about to experience hit me and the butterflies in my stomach went nuts,” he wrote in a blog post on his website Theflashpack.co.uk, a travel company that he heads.

“As I popped my head out of the hole in Jesus’ crown, I was in total and utter awe as my eyes met with a vast panorama that quite literally took my breath away.”

Thompson, who’s also a photographer, is in Brazil to document preparations for the World Cup and convinced the tourism board to let him climb to the top of the statue -- which stands 38 metres (125 feet) tall -- as it undergoes repairs.

In January, a severe lightning storm chipped off the statue's thumb.

"To some, taking pictures of yourself is considered vain, but this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity taught me that the selfie is a powerful medium through which we can share our perspectives, inspirations and personal stories with the world at large," he wrote.

"It’s not about funny mugshots with scenic backdrops or daredevil stunts. It’s a way to mark the moment and say, 'I was here'."