One of my favourite parts of the tour was Selaron steps, made by the Chilean artist Jorge Selarón. They run from Joaquim Silva street and Pinto ;artins street, straddling the Lapa and the Santa Teresa neighbourhoods, and they are beautiful.
All in all, there are 215 steps measuring 125 metres, covered in over 2000 tiles collected from more than 60 countries around the world. And it all started with a painter who didn’t like the stairs outside his house. He began renovating them in 1990, choosing fragments of blue, green and yellow tiles – the colours of the Brazilian flag. At first it was only a sideproject to his main artistic work as a painter, but it won’t surprise anyone who knows artists to hear that it soon developed into an obsession. Constantly out of money, he started selling paintings to fund his work, not unlike other addictions, and scavenged construction sites and urban waste on the streets of Rio for more tiles. In later years, most tiles were donated by visitors from around the world. Selarón himself considered the work as “never complete” and claimed that “this crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death.”
On January 10, 2013, at the age of 65, Jorge Selarón was found dead on those stairs. By then, they were world famous.