Escadaria Selarón

One of my favorite sites in all of Rio de Janeiro is the Escadaria Selarón. This stairway from Lapa to Santa Teresa has 250 steps covered in tiles from all over the world. Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón worked on them from 1990 until he committed suicide on the steps on January 10, 2013.

Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Escadaria Selarón

Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Escadaria Selarón

He lived in this modest house on the steps and relied on donations to pay his rent. He didn’t make any money off the project. One of the tiles incorporated onto the steps is a picture of Selarón himself.

Selarón's house in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Selarón’s house

Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Escadaria Selarón

One of the joys of visiting the steps is to take a closer look at all of the tiles. You’ll find some very interesting ones. Selarón was always changing the tiles, so the steps were never the same and it was constantly changing work of art.

Brazilian flag tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian flag tiles

Some tiles feature pop culture icons like the Simpsons, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and Coca-Cola. One set of tiles highlighted favela life.

The Simpsons tile at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Simpsons tile

Flags and music icons at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Flags and music icons

Living in a favela tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Living in a favela tiles

Other tiles were sent to Selarón from people all over the world for inclusion on the steps. A diverse range of countries such as Kazakhstan, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Chile, Colombia, Greece, are just a handful that are represented.

Kazakhstan tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Kazakhstan tiles

Santorini tile at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Santorini tile

Mecca tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mecca tiles

There are also several US cities represented, including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

Chicago and Los Angeles tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Chicago and Los Angeles tiles

San Francisco tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

San Francisco tiles

Many tiles commemorate important events, such as the year 2000, the 500th anniversary of the “discovery” of Brazil, or a trip to Brazil.

Welcome Year 2000 tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Welcome Year 2000 tiles

500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil

2008 trip to Brazil tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2008 trip to Brazil tiles

A large set of tiles at the bottom of the steps explains Selarón’s “madness”. Whether he was mad or not, his steps brightened a neighborhood and have brought joy to countless visitors.

Selarón's madness tiles at Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Selarón’s madness tiles

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