The Houses of Pablo Neruda, One of Chile’s Most Beloved Poets

Jan 18, 2013 by

“Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche” – Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda was a Chilean diplomat, politician, and most famously, poet.

Being in Santiago means you’re just a stone’s throw from three of the homes of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, one of the world’s most interesting and talented poets. Neruda designed and decorated each house himself and a visit will offer a glimpse into the private and professional life of a fascinating man.

Mural by Catalina Rojas, 2006

Pablo Neruda

Below, the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of visiting the three famous homes of Pablo Neruda.

La Chascona, Santiago, Chile

House: LA CHASCONA, Santiago, Chile

Who, What, When?

La Chascona is the Santiago home of Neruda that he shared with his wife Matilde from 1955 until 1973. Neruda named the home “La Chascona” (“tangled-haired woman”) after Matilde.

Where?

Barrio Bellavista, Santiago

  • Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago.
  • Telephone: 56-02-777 87 41 / 56-02-737 87 12

Why Visit? 

Neruda’s Santiago house is definitely worth a visit. While not as large as Neruda’s seaside residence in Isla Negra, and the views less stunning than his home in Valaparaíso, La Chascona is very easy to get to and the house provides a great introduction to the style of Neruda. Excellently restored, and full of Neruda’s personal possessions, including a painting by Diego Rivera, a visit to La Chascona surely will not disappoint.

How?

Getting There: La Chascona is in the Bellavista District and is easy to walk to from either the Bellas Artes Metro station (green line) or the Baquedano Metro station (red line).

Hours: The house is CLOSED on Mondays (like many Santiago museums). March to December, it is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. In January and February, it stays open until 7 pm.

Tours: Guided tours are available in English, Spanish, and French.

Cost: $4,000 pesos (around $7 USD) per person. A student and senior discount is also available.

La Sebastiana, Valparaíso, Chile

House:  LA SEBASTIANA, Valparaíso, Chile

Who, What, When?

If you’re heading Valparaíso you can’t leave without a visit to La Sebastiana. The walk to the house takes you through the rolling hills of Valpo (Valparaíso) and the views of the colorful city from Neruda’s home are breathtaking.

Where?

Cerro Bellavista, Valpo!

  • Calle Ricardo de Ferrari 692, Valparaíso, Chile
  • Telephone: +56 32 225 6606

Why Visit? 

It is very easy to get to Valpo from Santiago and the city is definitely worth at least a day trip. Valpo is a city of hills and a walk through these cerros (Spanish for “hills”) provides stunning ocean views, made more intriguing by the curious architecture and colors of the houses dotting the landscape.

How?

Getting There Buses run every hour from Santiago to Valpo and cost approximately $4,000 pesos one-way. Just head to the main bus terminal (at Metro Universidad de Santiago, Red Line). The ride to Valpo takes about two hours.

Once in Valpo, take a cab or collectivo up through the hills toward Neruda’s house, which is located on Cerro Bellavista. If you want more of challenge, you can walk to his house, but it is advisable to take an ascensor (elevator) part of the way upward. Cerro Bellavista is best reached by Ascensor Espíritu Santo.

Hours: The house is CLOSED on Mondays.

  • March to December: Tuesday to Sunday 10-6.
  • January and February: Tuesday to Sunday 10:30-7.

Tours: Audio-guided tours are available in a variety of languages.

Cost: $4,000 pesos (around $7 USD) per person. A student and senior discount is also available ($1,500 peso entrance fee).

Neruda’s house in Isla Negra, Chile

House: ISLA NEGRAChile

Who, What, When?

Neruda’s house in Isla Negra (“Black Island”) is the largest and perhaps best known of his homes. Rather than moving upward from floor to floor as you do at La Chascona and La Sebastiana, Isla Negra is a single level residence. The house, which is built as if it were a ship, seems to go on forever – through each doorway is an even more extensive and engaging addition, full of Neruda’s collections. Large windows in the house look out onto the Pacific Ocean. It is assumed that Neruda named his home “isla” for the isolation and quiet it provided, and “negra” for the black rocks along the seashore. Inspired by the mysticism of the rocky ocean landscape, Neruda wrote many of his most famous poems here. On July 12th, Neruda’s birthday, you will encounter an exciting array of festivities, including poetry readings and music.

Where?

Isla Negra is not actually an island but simply the name of the location of his home in San Antonio Province. Today it is also known as an area and community for writers and artists. Like his houses in Santiago and Valpo, Isla Negra is a beautifully maintained museum not far from Santiago and Valpo. It can be explored in a day trip.

  • Isla Negra, El Quisco, San Antonio Province, Valparaíso Region
  • Museum Telephone: 56-35-461284

Why Visit? Neruda’s home in Isla Negra is a major tourist attraction and for good reason – his home here is the largest and most architecturally distinct of his houses and contains more of his original possessions than the other sites. This is also the place where Neruda and wife Matilde are buried.

How?

Getting There: Neruda’s Isla Negra home is about 1.5 hours from Santiago (110 km West of Santiago) and about an hour or so from Valpo (85 km South of Valpo). You can get there by driving, guided tour, or by bus. Many people travel to Valpo and take a bus to Isla Negra from the Valpo Bus Terminal.

Hours: The house is CLOSED on Mondays.

  • March to December: Tuesday to Sunday 10-6.
  • January and February: Tuesday to Sunday 10-8.

Tours: Audio-guided tours are available in a variety of languages. Cost: $4,000 pesos (around $7 USD) per person. A student and senior discount is also available ($1,500 peso entrance fee).   Check out one journalist’s take on the three houses in an article published in the LA Times.

Note: This story was accurate when published. Please be sure to confirm all details directly with the sites in question. Updated by Beth Delthony, April 2014.

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