Rainbow Stairs
Istanbul, Turkey

Over the course of 4 days toward the end of August, 2013, retired forestry engineer Hüseyin Çetinel painted the 145 steps of the stairs that link Findikli and Cihangir districts in rainbow colors.  He had originally planned to paint only the first three steps, but decided to paint them all after positive comments from people passing.[1]   It took 40 kilos of paint to complete the job,[2] but it made the drab, deteriorating stairs immediately became a social media phenomenon.  Much of the response came from the gay community, for whom the rainbow flag is a symbol of pride, but Çetinel disavows any attempt to make a political statement.

...his intention wasn’t to highlight civil rights or lack thereof, but simply to beautify what were ugly gray stairs in a lovely Bohemian neighbourhood. “I didn’t do it for a group or as a form of activism. I did it to make people smile,” he told the Turkish media. --"Rainbow Stairs in Istanbul by Huseyin Cetinel." Jebiga.

The painting of the stairs was completed on 27 August 2013, but they were hastily repainted gray overnight on August 29th. Initially the local government denied responsibility for repainting, but later said it was responding to complaints from residents.[3]  Hüseyin Çetinel, who had funded the initial painting on his own, said he would not repaint them in rainbow colors himself, so social media users

organized an event to repaint the steps, set to take place on Aug. 31 at 5pm. The event called on everyone to gather at the stairs to create the rainbow again. “Take your brush and come,” became a call on social media websites, while thousands used the #resiststeps hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, becoming Twitter’s most trending topic. --"Graying of 'rainbow' Steps in Istanbul Causes Immediate Backlash." Hürriyet Daily News.

The stairs were once again painted in rainbow colors, and have even inspired other neighborhoods to paint their stairs in various colorful patterns.[4]


[1] "Graying of 'rainbow' steps..."

[2] "Rainbow Stairs in Instanbul..."

[3] "Graying of 'rainbow' steps..."

[4] "The Heartwarming Story..."


Frank, Priscilla. "The Heartwarming Story Behind Turkey's Rainbow Staircase." The Huffington Post. September 10, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/turkey-rainbow-stairs_n_3895082.html, archived at https://perma.cc/6DW2-9VGV.

"Graying of 'rainbow' Steps in Istanbul Causes Immediate Backlash." Hürriyet Daily News. August 30, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/graying-of-rainbow-steps-in-istanbul-causes-immediate-backlash-53528, archived at https://perma.cc/87DN-FSEL.

"Rainbow Stairs in Istanbul by Huseyin Cetinel." Jebiga Design Lifestyle. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.jebiga.com/rainbow-stairs-in-istanbul-huseyin-cetinel/, archived at https://perma.cc/6DW2-9VGV.

"With a Burst of Color, Turkey's Public Walkways Become a Focus of Quiet Protest." The Lede. September 03, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/with-a-burst-of-color-turkeys-public-walkways-become-a-focus-of-quiet-protest/, archived at https://perma.cc/7NDQ-A7TB.
Istanbul, Turkey
Images & Videos
Associated Names
August 2013/Dhul Qa'idah 1435 AH
Variant Names
Rainbow Stairs
Rainbow Steps