Estepona Rainbow steps
by Chris Chaplow
The Rainbow Steps in Estepona are a colourful yet little-known attraction, just off the Avenida del Mar.
You won’t find the escalera arco iris (marked on maps as part of Arrabal las Mesas or Camino de las Mesas) in the guide books or on the official town tourist website, but it is of interest to keep-fit enthusiasts and Social Media fans alike.
Many people are curious about the steps' origin, as nobody seems to claim ownership of them. Some passers-by wonder if they are making an LGTB statement. The answer is in History, below. The steps lead to a country road called Arrabal/Camino de los Mesas and a few houses. Since August 2021 this road has been closed for the construction of a new housing estate. The steps are still worth the climb for the spectacular view over the huge construction site and the northern part of Estepona including the Theatre, Athletics and Football stadiums with the Sierra Bermeja mountain behind.
Every day, local keep-fit enthusiasts can be seen sweating their way up the steps in the early morning and late evening, with Fitbits on their wrists or iPhones strapped to their arms. Others are more content just to take a photo of themselves with a bright, cheery background, and post it on Social Media. The best time of day to take a colourful photo is in the morning before about 11am.
The subtle thing that differentiates Estepona Rainbow Steps from others in the world is that they have the seven Newtonian colours of the visible spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple; a rainbow is a spectrum of colours and not a discrete number) painted in vertical stripes from top to bottom.
The steps were constructed when the wide Avenida del Mar by-pass was built, creating a large cutting in the landscape. A narrow track led up the hill up leading into a road called Camino de las Mesas and an area outside the town known as Las Mesas. A total of 90 steps were constructed in concrete, surfaced in non-slip tiles, with concrete upstands painted blue; two steel handrails were added. Ten years later an unknown member (at least we were unable to identify them) of the Works Department of Estepona Town Hall decided to paint the steps in rainbow colours, because they pointed up to the sky, with the handrails painted in metalic gold.
Heavenly Reyna, the Californian singer-songwriter visited in July 2017 before performing in the gardens of the (then) Fuerte Hotel Estepona as part of her Ignite European tour.
Andalucia.com interview Instagram Twitch
In July 2021, the Rainbow Steps were given a colourful boost with a bright new coat of paint. The following month, advanced earthworks began on a new residential and commercial development adjacent to Las Mesas. A plot of land near the top of the steps was set aside as a nursery for the small trees that would be uprooted by the construction. The steps were within the boundary of the works and were fenced off rather unceremoniously. Following a complaint, the fence was moved and on 21.08.13 the steps were reopened. The celebration was short-lived, and a few months later the steps were again unnecessarily fenced off, and remained so until the constructor undertook a tidy up of external works along Avenida del Mar and removed the fencing on Christmas Eve 2023.
A World of Rainbow steps
The most famous rainbow steps in the world are located between the Cihangir and Findikli districts of Istanbul, Turkey- They were created by a retired forestry engineer over four days in August 2013. Afterwards, he stated that his motive wasn't activism, but "to make people smile". The repeated pattern features the seven colour rainbow painted horizontally on 200 steps, with each colour adorning three adjacent steps (green x 3, yellow x 3 etc). Their fame escalated after the government re-painted them grey overnight a few days later; in response, the call went out on Social Media, and locals repainted these rainbow steps as well as others in the vicinity. The steps were demolished in 2015 as part of a new infrastructure project, but they were rebuilt with coloured tiles.
In Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, between two buildings lie the 112 Holsteiner treppe (steps) named after the artist Horst Glaesker. In 2006, as part of an art competition, he applied one colour per step, with a German word written on each.
In Buenos Aires, two sets of steps, one on each platform, adorn the newly renamed Carlos Jáuregui subway station. This is the first station in the world to be named after an LGBT activist (there's also a plaza bearing his name in the city). The 60 steps are painted in pairs and repeat the six-colour version (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) of the rainbow adopted by LGTB movement since 1979.
Avenida de la Puerta del Mar, Estepona, opposite Lidl Supermarket.