On a literary kick? The Chilean capital of Santiago is the perfect place to delve into the poems of one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century: Pablo Neruda. Visit his former home, his stomping grounds and see where he left his mark on the city and surroundings.
Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda is a symbol for Chile. You can find his face all over the capital in the form of statues, street art, museums and more. During the September 1973 coup in Chile, two of Neruda’s houses were ransacked, the architectural plans for his fourth were destroyed and there was little to speak of his personal possessions. Today however that has all changed. The Chilean’s houses are now major stops on the tourist trail in Santiago and beyond.
All three of Pablo Neruda’s houses are open to the public: La Isla Negra, La Sebastiana and La Chascona. Access to each is different however, some allow you to wander at your own pace while others are only by group guided tours. First stop? His haunt in Santiago.
La Chascona: “the uncombed”
Pablo Neruda’s Santiago residence is named after his wife who had notoriously unruly hair. You’ll find it tucked in the backstreets of Bellavista. Neruda had an immense love for the sea and this is his only house that isn’t near the coast but he still had a way to bring the sea inside. The plot had streams and a waterfall when it was bought and the couple built the water into the house’s design so that it flowed right outside the dining room.
La Sebastiana: a narrow little place by the sea
This skinny labyrinth of a place was named after the Spanish builder it was bought from, Sebastian Collado. Visitors can wander the house freely without being shooed from room to room by a tour guide. It has rooms and corridors where you least expect them! Climb the narrow stairs to the top and you’ll see why the poet loved this house: the harbour, city and sea are just beyond. Neruda spent many a New Year’s Eve here to see the fireworks explode over the harbour.
Road trip to Isla Negra
This is by far the most popular of Neruda’s houses. If you hire a car in Santiago, you can reach Isla Negra in about two hours heading west. You may be expecting some dark and rocky island but this place is right on the mainland. Isla Negra is just what the poet called it. He wrote some of his best-known works here.
Wondering what you’ll find within? Neruda wrote in his memoir,
“In my house, I have put together a collection of small and large toys I can’t live without… I have also built my house like a toy house and I play in it from morning till night.”
Fan of Neruda? Share your favourite poem with us!