Decorated with more than 2,000 brightly colored tiles in the colors of the Brazilian flag, the Selarón Staircase (Escadaria Selarón) is one of Rio de Janeiro's most vibrant and striking landmarks, marking the boundary between the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods.
The work of Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, the Selarón Steps are one of Brazil’s most famous pieces of street art, often featured in commercials, music videos, and magazines around the world. Many tours of downtown Rio combine a visit to the staircase with stops at other city highlights such as Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach, and the Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico). Neighborhood walking tours, some with a focus on street art, allow you to see the steps up-close.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Selarón Steps are free and open to the public 24 hours a day.
- Nearby bars and restaurants in Lapa and Santa Teresa are plentiful; combine a stop at the urban artwork with a meal or drink nearby.
- Although the 250 steps are not wheelchair accessible, the view from the bottom of the stairway is excellent.
How to Get There
The Selarón Staircase runs from Rua Joaquim Silva up to Rua Pinto Martins, connecting the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa in North Rio. While it can be reached by taxi or bus, guided tours often provide round-trip transportation and allow you to explore without the hassle of navigation.
When to Get There
The steps are typically open to the public year-round, although they may occasionally be closed for filming commercials and movies. The best time to visit Rio is between December and March, when the weather tends to be warm and sunny.
Selarón started work on the staircase in 1990 as a tribute to the Brazilian people and his adopted city, covering the 250 stairs with an elaborate mosaic of tiles. Operating a gallery from his home, the artist resided near the steps from 1977 until his death in 2013. He began renovating the steps on a whim, using a combination of tiles salvaged from the trash, some he hand painted, and some donated by visitors from all over the world. He was known to be seen working on the stairs day and night, interacting with visitors.