Pablo Neruda is a Chilean poet who was born in 1904. He was also a diplomat and politician and in 1971 won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He started writing poetry in his teens and was famous for using a variety of different styles.
Neruda held many different diplomatic positions as well as being a senator in the Chilean Communist Party. In 1948 communism was outlawed in Chile and consequently Neruda spent months hiding in a basement in Valparaiso before escaping across to Argentina. Later on he became an adviser to socialist President Allende who was later overthrown by General Pinochet.
Around the time of the coup Neruda who was suffering from cancer went into hospital and on 23rd September 1973 died of heart failure. Pinochet did not allow his funeral to become a public event although many Chileans ignored this and took to the streets to mourn this great man.
Neruda had 3 houses in Chile although his favourite one was in Isla Negra, not actually an island but a coastal area about 85km south of Valpairaiso. It was the house where he spent the majority of his time while in Chile.
Neruda was married three times and it was his third wife, Matilde Urrutia, with whom he was buried with there (although originally buried in Santiago his remains were moved to Isla Negra once democracy had been restored in Chile).
The area suffers from heavy rains and storms – especially during the winter months. This house was to be his inspiration for many poems including Oda a la Tormenta (Ode to the Storm). His modest house is now a museum and has become a popular tourist site.
Neruda loved all maritime related things and this eccentrically designed house overlooking the Pacific Ocean was built to look like a ship. He was also an ardent collector and each room is testament to how much he collected – bottles, maps, letters, figureheads from ships, travel momentos and lots of shells to name a few. Most of the decorations inside the house and outside are of a nautical theme. Perhaps the eclecticness of it all is a good indication of the complexities of this fascinating man.
His bedroom has the best view in the house as it is occupies the highest floor and is reached by a narrow stairway. His library is also upstairs commanding spectacular views out to the mesmerising ocean. The majority of the rooms are open to the public and there is a wealth of items for the visitor to take in.
It would be hard to believe given the overwhelming nautical and maritime theme of the house and it’s situation on the coast that Neruda was in fact scared of the ocean and he would not venture any closer to it than his garden.
The house at Isla Negra is a serene and special place to visit with wonderful views as well as being an easy place to get to either by car or on a tour from either Santiago or Valparaiso. While there why not combine it with a stay on one of the country’s old and beautiful haciendas. Have a look at Historic Haciendas for some inspiration.
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