The Selaron steps (Escadaria Selarón) in Rio de Janeiro
These world famous steps represent the lifetime work of Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, who claimed they were his ”tribute to the Brazilian people”. Starting out as what many people considered to be an eccentric project in 1990, Selarón gathered reclaimed (and latterly donated) tiles, mirrors and pieces of ceramic which he applied to the vertical faces of the steps, and then on to walls and buildings either side.
There are 215 steps rising from the historic and slightly run-down district of Lapa at the bottom up to the more bohemian cobbled streets of Santa Teresa, and are now one of the most popular tourist sites in Rio de Janeiro. Visitors are presented with a spectacular riot of colour as they ascend the steps, yet curiously when they reach the top and turn round, the cobbled stone surface of the steps give them an almost normal appearance.
Jorge Selarón lived in over 50 countries before settling in Brazil, and initially made his name as an artist and portrait painter. His house was adjacent to the steps and for the last 13 years of his life he was constantly to be seen working on his grand project. The tiles have been sourced from over 60 countries and include formal blue Delft pieces, hand painted ceramics and even wedding commemorations. If visitors look carefully, they will see the occasional hand painted tile signed by Selarón himself.
The steps can get quite crowded and we would advise guests to get there early in order to maximise the photographic opportunities.