Rio de Janeiro’s most famous street is actually a flight of stairs connecting the streets of Joaquim Silva and Pinto Martins in the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. Officially it is known as the Manuel Carneiro street, but most people know it as “Selaron Steps” or “Escadaria Selarón”, named after the Chilean born painter Jorge Selaron, who famously decorated it as a “tribute to the Brazilian people.”
It all began in 1990 when Selaron started renovating the dilapidated steps that ran along the front of his house. At first, neighbors mocked him for his choice of colors, as he covered the steps in fragments of blue, green and yellow tiles – the colors of the Brazilian flag, but he remained undeterred. In fact, as time passed this little side project of his became an obsession. Selaron mostly scavenged for materials from construction sites, but sometimes he was forced to sell his paintings to fund his work. Eventually, he had covered the entire 125-meters-long, 250-stepped stairs with over 2,000 colored tiles.
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