La Chascona Museum House
La Chascona Museum House has an audio-guide system. This new system, included in the admission price, is available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.
To visit the Museum Houses of the Pablo Neruda Foundation, no prior reservation is required. Visitors are received on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to daily availability. Only visits from schools must be booked in advance.
Dear visitor: Your visit to La Chascona requires no prior reservation. The museum houses have a limited daily capacity and access is first-come, first serve. For the Isla Negra museum house, we suggest arriving early and keep in mind that there are long wait times. Please enjoy your visit to the Isla Negra museum house of the Pablo Neruda Foundation.
• Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago.
• Phone: +56-2-2777 87 41 / +56-2-2737 87 12
- March to December: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
- January and February: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 7 pm
- Monday closed
- General admission: Ch$7,000 per person
- Special admission: Ch$2,500 for students and Chileans over 60 years
In 1953, Pablo Neruda started to build a house in Santiago, for Matilde Urrutia, his secret love in that time. He called the house “La Chascona” in her honour, that was the nickname he gave her due to her abundant red hair.
Matilde remember an afternoon in which they were walking by the neighbourhood, that today is called Bellavista, they found a property for sale, at the bottom of the San Cristobal hill. It seemed covered by blackberries and it had a sharp slope “we were bewitched for a water sound – Matilde wrote in her memories -, it was a real waterfall which came from the channel, at the top of the lot”. Both of them were filled with enthusiasm and decided to buy it. Later, in his poem “La Chascona”, from the book La Barcarola, Neruda evoked the “water that runs writing in its language”, and the blackberries “which guard the place with its bloody branches”.
The construction was encomended to the Catalan architect German Rodriguez Arias. When he saw such a steep terrain, he predict that the habitants of the house were condemned to live going up and down the stairs. He projected the building oriented toward the sun, it meant facing the city. But, Neruda wanted the view towards the cordillera, so he turned around the house in the plan. This was not the only intervention of the poet. He brought cypress tree logs for the living room from the south. He was occupied personally in the task of looking for woods and other materials, discussing and modifying details. German Rodriguez had to acknowledge the house ended up being more a creation of Neruda than his own.
Initially only the living room and a bedroom was built. At that time Matilde was living alone in the house. “I worked all day in my garden – she remember – there was not a single tree or plant I didn’t choose and planted with my own hands…”
Meanwhile, the poet was still living with his wife, Delia del Carril, in Michoacan, as he named his house in Lynch street, in Ñuñoa neighbourhood.
Many of Neruda’s friends were participants of the guarded secret of “La Chascona”. Among them the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who painted a portrait of Matilde with two heads. If you pay attention to her hair, you could see to appear the diffused profile of Neruda, the lover who was still remained hidden. This is one of the pieces shown in the house – museum today.
In February 1955, Neruda was separated from Delia del Carril and he moved in to “La Chascona”. The house had kept growing with the addition of a kitchen and a dining room. Afterwards a bar and a library were built. The architect Carlos Martner was in charge of the latest additions in 1958. For then Rodriguez Arias had returned to Europe.
Martner have commented the singularity with which Neruda constructed his houses. He didn’t do it accordingly to the conventional procedures, starting with the design of function, space and structural plans: “In one occasion he had a window, a picture and an armchair he liked a lot, and he wanted to create a corner were they were included” – then, the poet conditioned the space to the object, the whole to the part.
At “La Chascona” is fulfilled what Miguel Rojas Mix observed when he made note that Neruda modeled his spaces far from the bourgeoisie pleasure: More than the ostentatious fronts, he had interest in the intimacy of the interior ambient.
“La Chascona” Had its death and resurrection. On September 23rd, 1973, days after the military coup which overthrow President Salvador Allende, Neruda died at the Santa Maria Clinic of Santiago. “La Chascona had been object of vandalism acts. The ditch so loved by the poet was obstructed and the house was flooded, it had to be placed some wood slabs over the mud in order to make possible the entrance of his remains, since Matilde Urrutia insisted to have his funeral in there. She together with a few friends spent that night in the broken windows living room.
Matilde made a big effort to fix the damages of the house she had built with Neruda, and she continued living in it until her death in 1985. In this way “La Chascona” was reborn and in the actuality is a house–museum which destiny is to spread the life of the poet by making possible the access to the intimate ambient in which he lived and created.
Within “La Chascona” are kept among other collections, an interesting pinacoteca, with paintings of Chilean and foreign artists from all times. It also has an African carved wood collection and one furniture and objects from the italian designer Piero Fornasetti, and certainly there are Neruda’s ambient such as dining room with the original chinaware and cutlery.