Isla Negra: Pablo Neruda’s home on the sea


If you’ve never read any of Pablo Neruda‘s poetry, stop reading this blog right now and go out and find some. He’s an amazing poet, and his works are incredibly beautiful (and I’m not a huge poetry fan…)

This is the sign that leads you to Neruda's house. I have no idea what it's supposed to be - a guitar playing snowman??!

This is the sign that leads you to Neruda’s house. I have no idea what it’s supposed to be – a guitar playing snowman??!

Isla Negra was Neruda’s favorite home, and sits on the coast just west of Santiago. He lived there from 1939 until his death in 1973, although there were long times when he traveled abroad or was forced to live in exile.

We explored the beach before venturing up to the house.

We explored the beach before venturing up to the house.

Neruda and his third wife are buried on the property, overlooking the ocean. It’s just about the most perfect resting place that I can imagine.

Someone has carved what appears to be Neruda's head into one of the rocks on the beach. He looks out over the ocean.

Someone has carved what appears to be Neruda’s head into one of the rocks on the beach. He looks out over the ocean.

Neruda had a life-long fascination with ships and trains (something Alex and I can appreciate!);  he built his home to reflect a ship, and there is a train engine in the central courtyard. Everything about the house focuses attention on the sea – from the large windows to the decor.

The courtyard.

The courtyard.

He was an avid collector, from ship figureheads to shells to maps and ships in bottles. Apparently he found the act of collecting to be inspiring – he surrounded himself  with beautiful things that gave him ideas for his poems.

Unfortunately we could not take photographs inside, but here you can see a mock-boat that sits in the yard of Neruda's home. Apparently he liked to bring guests out to sit in this fake boat, even though he didn't actually go out onto the water. He was very playful like that, I think, in an attempt to keep his childlike wonder with the world.

Unfortunately we could not take photographs inside, but here you can see a mock-boat that sits in the yard of Neruda’s home. Apparently he liked to bring guests out to sit in this fake boat, even though he didn’t actually go out onto the water. He was very playful like that, I think, in an attempt to keep his childlike wonder with the world.

The train engine which Neruda had hauled to his home. It sits in the front yard.

The train engine which Neruda had hauled to his home. It sits in the front yard.

The weather was gorgeous on the day we visited, and the sea was sparkling in the sunshine. I can easily understand why Neruda chose to live and write here, even in a time when it wasn’t so easy to jump on the freeway and travel to the coast. For the first years of his residency, it was just a tiny cabin, accessible only by horseback! But the isolation and the ocean are surely part of why it’s such an amazing location.

Alex standing in front of the grave site, with the ocean view behind. Even the site has been designed to look like the prow of a ship, with sails above.

Alex standing in front of the grave site, with the ocean view behind. Even the site has been designed to look like the prow of a ship, with sails above.

Neruda's fish symbol - his personal "logo", if you will.

Neruda’s fish symbol – his personal “logo”, if you will.

The view from the house, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

The view from the house, looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

Me. Getting sunburned, but happy.

Me. Getting sunburned, but happy.

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Posted on 04/06/2013, in Castles & Cathedrals, travel, Travel to South America and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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