A tribute to the Brazilian people from Chilean born painter Jorge Selaron, the Selaron Steps (Escadaria Selaron) represent a set of world-famous colorful steps in the center of Rio de Janeiro.
It all began in year 1990, when Selaron started renovating the broken-down stairs in front of his home with colorful hand-painted tiles. Mocked by his neighbours for his choice of colors (yellow, green and blue – the colors of the Brazilian flag), he did not give up his work. In fact, at some point it became an obsession. As money kep running out, he sold his paintings to sustain his artistic development of the stairs.
The 250 steps, long of 125 meters, have been originally covered in tiles scavenged from contruction sites, but eventually sustained by donations of visitors from around the world. Over 2000 tiles from over 60 countries cover the stairs running from Joaquim Silva and Pinto Martins streets.
Once a section was finished, Selaron would start another, constantly changing the tiles, transforming the stairs into a continuous work of art. The artist considered his work never to be complete and claimed the “crazy and unique dream will end only on the day of my death”.
The artist worked and lived in over 50 countries, before deciding to settle in Rio de Janeiro. Often unable to make living costs and threatened with eviction, he claimed to have sold over 25,000 portraits to sustain his work on the steps. He was found dead in 2013 on his famous Lapa steps.
Featured in many famous publications, travel documentaries, music videos and in Rio’s 2016 Olympic bid, the Selaron Steps adorned with thousands of colorful hand-painted tiles have become an iconic tourist attraction of Rio de Jeneiro and it is visited daily by hundreds of people from all over the world.
How to get the Escadaria Selaron
The Selaron Steps are close to Arcos da Lapa in Rio de Janeiro city center.
R. Joaquim Silva, S/N – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20241-110, Brazil