Poet, diplomat, and politician, Pablo Neruda left a mark on his native Chile that transcends even his Nobel Prize-winning books of poetry. Visitors will quickly discover just how revered its national poet is to this day and can gain deeper insight by following in his footsteps to his three homes. Here’s what you need to know.
In Valparaiso, you can explore Neruda’s home, known as La Sebastiana. Set at the top of a steep hill in the Bellavista neighborhood, the house is filled with the many quirky tchotchkes Neruda acquired in his lifetime and offers sweeping views of the colorful streets and busy port below. Guided tours of Valparaiso (private and group) typically include tickets to La Sebastiana and audio tours in English provide even more political and historical context.
One hour south of Valparaiso, visitors can also check out the Isla Negra Museum House, said to be the favorite of the Chilean poet’s former homes, where he and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia are both buried. Appropriate to its coastal Pacific setting and Neruda’s passion for all things maritime, the house is filled with ship figureheads, maps, shells, and ships in bottles. Guided tours from Valparaiso often combine the museum with visits to small nearby towns such as Pomaire.
Neruda’s third house, which he named for Urrutia’s wild, curly hair, is located in Santiago’s Barrio Bellavista. In keeping with the maritime theme of all his houses, La Chascona’s dining room resembles a ship’s cabin and the living room a lighthouse. The house, which also serves as headquarters of the Pablo Neruda Foundation, contains a painting of Urrutia by the famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera. It is possible to visit all three houses in a single day on a tour that includes admission, audio guides, and all transport.