Escadaria Selarón is Portuguese for “Selaron Stairs“, also known as the Steps of Santa Teresa. The Selaron Stairs are named after the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, who started decorating the now famous 250 steps with colorful tiles in the early 1990s. This masterpiece of street art in Rio de Janeiro is a clear must for your Rio sightseeing schedule!
Visit the Selaron Stairs
The Selaron Stairs are connecting the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. There’s no public transport that takes you directly to Selaron Stairs but you can take the subway to Gloria or Cinelandia and walk the rest. The bus leaves you even closer to the stairs, at Arcos da Lapa. However, as the stairs are located in a backalley, these options are only recommended if you already know your way around this area.
By Bus: From Ipanema or Copacabana 123, 161 or 433.
By Metro: Gloria or Cinelandia
Or just grab a cab and tell the taxi driver to go to “Escadaria de Selarón na Lapa”.
The Selaron Stairs run from Rua Joaquim Silva, close to the famous “Arcos da Lapa” (aqueduct in the middle of Lapa) up to Rua Pinto Martins. See map below for more details:
The famous colorful tiled stairway is the work of over 20 years of tiling by the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón who moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1983. He lived in a tiny house just in front of the steps, until his death in 2013. Selarón laid over 2000 colorful tiles from all parts of the world. When Selarón was still alive, he was usually to be seen around the steps and everyone was welcome to bring a tile which he would happily add to his work.
In 1990, Selarón began his work on the steps outside of his home in Lapa. He didn’t have much money, so in the beginning he started to use whatever he could get his hands on. Usually he worked with tiles that he found in urban waste piles. After some years, the steps slowly transformed from a decaying grey mass into a fancy mosaic cascade. Until his death in 2013 he continued working on the steps. Even though the everchanging aspect of this piece of art has come to an end, the Selaron Stairs are still there and they are becoming more and more famous every single day.
Today, the Selaron Stairs are one of the biggest art attractions in Rio de Janeiro. During Carnival, New Year and high season in Rio, thousands of tourists come to see this incredible work. The steps have been featured in music videos, commercial clips, documentaries, National Geographic, etc.
After spending some time at Selaron Stairs, it’s nice to walk all the way to the top. From there you can take a left and follow the street for 5-10 minutes until you get to a small bar with an incredible view over the city. Following the road just another 5 minutes you’ll end up in the heart of Santa Teresa with many restaurants, bars and small souvenir shops.