Beloved Chilean poet and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto – otherwise known as Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) – helped design this quirky, nautical-themed home for himself and his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, for whom La Chascona (“tangle-haired woman”) is named.
Bursting with Neruda´s odd collections and romantic personality, the house serves as unique insight into one of the most important figures in the country´s recent history. Music boxes, exotic artifacts, original chinaware, toys, antiques, and an overwhelming library with thousands of books are only part of the appeal; also on display are a replica of his Nobel Prize (presented in 1971 for literature) and a portrait of Urrutia by the famous artist Diego Rivera, which holds a secret of its own.
Though later vandalized by dictator Pinochet´s men, La Chascona has been restored and is now open to the public via tours (English included). La Sebastiana in Valparaiso and Casa de Isla Negra in Isla Negra, Neruda´s other two homes, are also preserved and maintained as museums revealing his life and obsessions. Although Pinochet outlawed the observance of Neruda´s funeral, thousands of loyal Chileans filled the streets in his honor nonetheless. After a walk through La Chascona´s bizarrely enchanting chambers, visitors will easily understand how the passionate writer and dedicated communist could continue to inspire people for generations.
Photo courtesy of Pekka Parhi via Wikimedia Commons.