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Green, blue and yellow

Stairs Lapa
When you're in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro's fashionable art district, and you walk towards the work of artist Jorge Selarón, you can see the city's most famous stairs from miles away.

They stand out not only because of the 250 steps – which rise 125 meters towards the adjacent Santa Teresa – but also because of their bright green, blue and yellow colors. That is, if there are no tourists blocking your way. The stairs, you see, have become one of the city's tourist hotspots.

Selarón had a reason for choosing this specific color combination. Born in Chile, he wanted to give something back to the people of Brazil. So he consciously chose the colors of the Brazilian flag. After nearly 30 years (and undoubtedly millions of footsteps) most of the 250 steps are in need of a splash of paint, but this is just a detail.

You see these same colors everywhere in Rio and the rest of Brazil. Or rather, you finally see these colors everywhere. Two months ago, on another visit to Brazil to soak in a bit of the approaching World Cup atmosphere, I was very surprised to see very little green, blue and yellow on the streets.

But Brazil was transformed. Currently, you can't walk along a street in Rio without noticing green, blue and yellow. And superstar footballers such as Neymar Jr, Hulk and Fred are painted on the walls.

The proud Brazilians let the most important detail in life – football – ensure that they work in a structured way. Things are certainly different from the Netherlands, where nobody bothers whether the neighbors want orange in their street or not.

In Brazil, every four years, just before the start of the tournament, whole neighborhoods gather together to express their love for football by painting their streets green, blue and yellow. Like the people in Rua Pereira Nunes, a Rio street not far from the immense and powerful Maracanã Stadium, which has also turned green, blue and yellow. The Galera de Pereira Nunes group are just one example. They have been decorating their streets together since 1986.

Meanwhile, Google has been quick to respond. If you visit Google Maps, you can travel the streets of Brazil courtesy of a special showcase celebrating the Brazilian love of football. These panoramic pictures look very impressive indeed.

Perhaps the stairs of Jorge Selarón will be their next project.