Steps Of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro

Photo Credit: Bryn Bonino

Photo Credit: Bryn Bonino

In the early morning, you're walking through the winding streets of the Lapa neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. You need to get to the Praça Evento, so you turn to your left, to take a long staircase that cuts through the winding streets.  

But this is no ordinary set of stairs.  They have been made famous throughout the decades as people notice the colorful work of Jorge Selarón, the Chilean artist who started decorating the staircase in 1990 with colorful tiles, some of which people from all parts of the world brought him.

The staircase is functional, but adds cultural identity and pride to the city of Rio. Artists such as Snoop Dogg and U2 have featured the Steps in their music videos, and they have been featured in dozens of publications and documentaries, including the work of Time and National Geographic.

As you walk down the Steps, you grow to appreciate the beauty that they add to the city of Rio.  Such a marvelous city. But, it is a city where people live and work. You remember this as you see people’s homes just off the Steps.  As you get to the bottom of the long staircase, you see a stack of old newspapers. They don’t seem like the fit into the scene. They are old and weathered, and the Steps are bright and vibrant.

But then you think... they do fit into the scene.  The Steps are functional and an everyday part of the city, and an old stack of newspapers is a mundane detail of life.  It gives you pause as you realize how the mundane and fantastical are connected.

And this is your morning in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.