Three of the homes where the beloved poet, Pablo Neruda, lived and worked are popular stops on the itineraries of many Chile tours. To fully appreciate these quirky museums during one’s travel to Chile, it is necessary to understand Neruda’s love life, his politics and his spending proclivities. He loved women. He loved nature. He loved objects. These houses, Isla Negra, La Chascona and La Sebastiana, and the objects they contain, were the dream worlds Neruda created for himself, their value appreciated mostly by him. For visitors on Chile tours, these houses show how Neruda thought, what he valued and his unique take on the world. Even if you don’t read Neruda’s poetry during your travel to Chile, you will know him through his homes.
Neruda built or remodeled these three homes as an exotic setting for his full life, two by the sea and one in Santiago. About these creative development projects, he said in his memoirs, “The child who doesn’t play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him, and he will certainly miss him. I have also built my house like a toy house, and I play in it from morning till night.”
In his will, he bequeathed all three homes to the people of Chile, though given his leftist leanings and the turmoil of the military regime at the time of Neruda’s death, it took the government some time to consider the houses a gift worth having. To maintain the houses and his legacy, plans for a Pablo Neruda Foundation were in the works before he died. The houses and their contents might not have been saved had it not been for Neruda’s widow, Matilde, who kept the military at bay. All three places were ransacked in the early days of the junta after the overthrow and death of President Salvador Allende. Friends looked out for the houses in her absence. Though Matilde devoted the rest of her life to keeping Neruda’s name and works in the public eye, it wasn’t until a year after her death in 1985, that the foundation received the government’s permission to exist. Headquartered in Santiago, at the Neruda museum in La Chascona, Fundacion Neruda raised the funds to restore the homes and keep them open as public museums.
Visitors who travel to Chile with Southern Explorations will be able to tour two of Neruda’s homes during their Santiago tours. La Chascona is visited on two of our tour extensions in the capital and La Sebastiana is part of the eleven-day Chile and Argentina Wine Adventure itinerary.