Selarón Steps

Escadaria Selarón fica na Lapa. escalera de selarón.

Today we’ll visit one of the most simple and beautiful places in the Marvelous City.
Let’s study Portuguese with history of the Selarón Steps in Rio de Janeiro.

Selarón steps in Rio de Janeiro

The Selarón Steps, or as we call it, Escadaria Selarón went through a renovation in 1990. Before this it was just a normal stretch of steps between Lapa and Santa Teresa but, one man named Jorge Selarón decided to decorate them. Lapa is a bohemian neighborhood of the Central Zone of our city and Santa Teresa is a neighborhood located on a hill with a great view of the city.

Jorge Selarón was a Chilean painter and ceramist that moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1983. He decided to renovate the steps in front of his house in Lapa as a gift to Brazil. He first started using the colors of the Brazilian flag, but then he found out that in Praça XV, at the center of Rio de Janeiro, he could buy tiles from all over the world. So, he had the brilliant idea of buying these tiles and using them to decorate the stairway.

Selarón Steps in Rio de Janeiro. Os visitantes tentam encontrar azulejos de seus países.

The idea was to create a continuously changing work of art, full of life and transformation. And so he did! This amazing work of art came to an end and remains as it was in 2013, today people visit the stairs with the challenge to find a tile from their own country.

There are 215 steps and the stairway measures 125 meters. Can you imagine how many tiles there are?

Life of Jorge Selarón

The artist behind this masterpiece, Jorge Selarón, was born in a small town near Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. At the age of ten, he visited Buenos Aires and decided that he wanted to discover the world. Fleeing from the Chilean dictatorship, he traveled a lot, visiting 57 countries, until he decided to live in Rio. Inspired by the Guell Park, in Barcelona, he began to decorate the staircase near his house. Over time, it started to become recognized and visited by tourists, until it grew to be the phenomenon that it is today.

The woman in his work

It’s possible to find, in different parts of the Selarón stairs, the painting of a pregnant woman. When asked about her, he replied she was related to a personal problem in his past.

At the time of the dictatorship, Selarón left his pregnant wife behind and later knew about her death. Therefore, this painful fact may explain his obsession with the pregnant woman repeatedly presented in his works. Along with the images of the pregnant black woman, there are usually names of friends, artists, composers, athletes etc…

There another is a mystery surrounding the end Jorge Selarón’s work. The painter was found dead on the Santa Teresa Convent Staircase on a sad Thursday morning in January, 2013. Even today nobody knows exactly what happened. There are theories that a former employee was threatening him in 2012.


This crazy and unique dream will only end on the day of my death

Jorge Selarón


Famous steps in Rio

Finally, did you know that many famous artists came to Rio to see and shoot film footage on our incredible steps? Do you remember the song Beautiful by Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg? The video was recorded in different parts of the Marvelous City and at the end of the video you can see the Selarón steps. Check out this video of Pharrell and Snoop Dogg here:


You can visit the Selarón Steps in Rio de Janeiro on our Santa Teresa RioLIVE! and try to find a tile from your country!

Thank you for watching our video and most important, thank you Selarón for your incredible work!
Go to our Facebook page to see pictures of our stroll up the amazing Rio Steps.
See you in our next Dica!


Ler esta Dica em Português   Leer esta Dica en Español
Click in the links below to see more related Dicas
History of Rio de Janeiro
Colors of the Brazilian flag
Countries in Portuguese
Nationalities in Portuguese

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search for Portuguese Dicas

Tell us which Portuguese lesson you would like to learn


Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Suscribe to A Dica do Dia.

Get free Portuguese lessons. Subscribe to A Dica do Dia and get short, daily lessons in Portuguese completely free.

Based on 321 reviews
I’ve just started online classes with Prof. Ana Carolina & she is the absolute best! It’s my first time learning Portuguese and I was speaking full sentences in the first class. Obrigada!
Katie Andrews
Katie Andrews
Small classes, diverse accents, and engaging professors make Rio & Learn Online a fantastic choice! I've been thrilled with my experience at Rio & Learn Online so far. The small class sizes (around 1-3 others students) allow for personalized attention and plenty of opportunities to practice speaking. What's more, having different professors throughout the program exposes you to various accents, preparing you for real-world interactions. I opted for the full-time program, which involves 2 hours of daily learning from Monday to Friday. After just over 12 weeks, I can confidently say my Portuguese has improved dramatically. The professors are incredibly engaging and encourage students to utilize real-life examples, solidifying the learning process. While I'm only halfway through the program, I'm confident in recommending Rio & Learn Online to anyone seeking to learn Portuguese in a supportive and effective environment. I've gone from being a complete beginner (only knowing hi and bye) to holding conversations - and I'm excited to see how much further I can progress! I'll be back with another review after completing the program, but for now: Rio & Learn Online - highly recommended!
Mona Hinamanu
Mona Hinamanu
I have been taking Portuguese classes with Rio and Learn for a few months. I appreciate their methodology. It is enjoyable and I am challenged and improving every day!
Bryan Beaver
Bryan Beaver
My teachers Lucas, Ana Paula and Paulo were all excellent as well as very friendly and funny. It was a really enjoyable experience and I met loads of interesting new people.
David Smith
David Smith
Rio & Learn e um novo jeito de ensinar a lingua portuguesa. Puro prazer e muito eficiente. Quanto mais alunos na aula mais vida. Eu aconselho voces escolher as aulas grupais por porque sao interativas: rir, falar, argumentar, compartir uma lingua!
Dominique Jacquin
Dominique Jacquin
Après 3 semaines que je suis dans cette école et je peux déjà parler portugais. Certe avec des erreurs mais j'ai fait des progrès fulgurant. En plus, du Lundi au Vendredi l'ecole propose des activitées qu'il appelle "Rio Live" ce qui permet de visiter en même temps Rio tout en parlant Portugais et de rencontrer des gens😃 Toute l'équipe est genial et est prêts à aider si besoin 😁
I've been taking the group online courses with Rio&Learn for 2 months. They offer a fantastic way to learn Portuguese and get speaking practice if you don't live in Brazil. The teachers are engaging and are able to adjust their level of Portuguese to whatever level you are at. Obrigado!
Jake H
Jake H
C'est vraiment fantastique...RioAndLearn. Les cours de portugais...ça vaut vraiment la peine. Les cours ont lieu du lundi au vendredi, (de 9h à 13h) et en après midi, ce sont des activités libres en groupe. (Soccer de plage, volleyball , excursions, visites des lieux touristiques, etc) Vendredi soir, on est allé à Lapa, un quartier nocturne de Rio. C'est quelque chose à voir! Des rues bondées de monde, des orchestres, des discothèques...Allô les décibels! L'apprentissage du portugais se fait en immersion, aussi bien en salle de classe que dans les activités extérieures organisées par Rio&Learn. On est plongé dans la langue portugaise et la culture Brésilienne.... Obligé de parler portugais....🫡 Je le recommande. Pierre Pedro, Montréal, Canada
M54 “M5454” 54
M54 “M5454” 54