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South America Travel: A Visit to Pablo Neruda’s Isla Negra Museum Home in El Quisco, Chile

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This post describes a visit to Pablo Neruda’s Isla Negra Museum Home in El Quisco, Chile.

We recommend connecting a visit to Isla Negra to your existing trip plans to Santiago or Valparaíso, Chile.


Logistics

Transport to Isla Negra

  • Getting to El Quisco requires a private car or bus from Santiago or Valparaíso, Chile.
  • The bus system in Chile is the most common way to travel throughout the country. Pullman and Tur-Bus are two of the most popular bus operators.
  • Plan to take a 1.5 hour bus from Santiago to Valparaíso, and then another 1-hour-long bus south to El Quisco.

Map to Isla Negra from Santiago

Who was Pablo Neruda?

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was perhaps the most important Latin American poet of the 20th century.

The Swedish Academy described Neruda’s work as inspired “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams” (Nobel Media, 2020).

Read Neruda’s Nobel Lecture, Towards the Splendid City.

Fundación Pablo Neruda

Neruda’s widow, Matilde Urrutia, created Fundación Pablo Neruda to memorialize her husband’s legacy.

“The objective of the Pablo Neruda Foundation has been to promote and preserve the poetic, artistic and humanist legacy of the poet, with the purpose of cultivating and propagating art and literature and ensuring access by all audiences to the legacy of our Nobel Laureate” (Fundación Pablo Neruda, 2020).

Along with preserving Neruda’s writings, the Foundation transformed all three of his homes into museums, taking care to maintain his personal art, eccentric collections, and furniture.

It is in Neruda three homes: La Chascona (Santiago, Chile), La Sebastiana (Valparaíso, Chile) and Isla Negra (El Quisco, Chile) that the spirit, personality, and joie de vivre live on (Frommers, 2020).

Read more about the Foundation here.

About the Isla Negra Museum Home

“On his return to Chile from Europe, in 1937, [Neruda] was looking for a place to dedicate himself to his Canto general, a great book about American history and nature. 

Neruda purchased the land and adjacent cottage, naming it Isla Negra, after a place he admired in Sumatra.

‘The wild coast of Isla Negra, with the tumultuous oceanic movement, allowed me to surrender with passion to the venture of my new song’ – he annotated in his memories” (Fundación Pablo Neruda, 2020).


Our Visit to Isla Negra

Get off the bus at El Quisco and ask locals to point you in the direction of Isla Negra (they know to help tourists find their way). Once you get to the property entrance, walk down the long path. If you see a small strip of vendors selling jewelry, art and other wares, you’re in the right place.

Enter the property grounds and stop off for a seaside lunch at the attached restaurant, El Rincón del Poeta (The Poet’s Corner).

Following lunch, proceed to the ticket purchase area, and onto the entrance.

The tour starts with a short film about Pablo Neruda’s life and writings, his times with his wife, Matilde Urrutia, and the meaning behind Isla Negra.

After the movie concludes, continue on to the property grounds. You’ll immediately notice the nautical-designed home structure and other thematic artifacts that dot the property. This is all done with intention.

Fundación Pablo Neruda describes Isla Negra as “a kind of visual and material compendium of the imaginary poetic of Neruda.”

Neruda gave each of his three homes a distinct look and feel. From 1943-5, Neruda worked in coordination with the Catalan architect, German Rodriguez Arias, to add a series of additions to the property to realize his artistic vision (Fundación Pablo Neruda, 2020). As a lover of the sea and all things maritime, Neruda brought forward the presence of nautical themes and imagery into the designs, including the creaking wood floors, the narrow hallways, and the incorporation of his collections.

The gifts Neruda received from friends and collectibles he gathered from his travels create eclectic collections as décor in his homes. Isla Negra incorporates Neruda’s items from all over the world, including bottles, ship figureheads, bugs, maps, shells, colored glass and wheels.

From the grounds, enter the home and exit west for views of the water.

As Neruda said, “The Pacific Ocean overflowed the map. There was no place to put it. It was so big, unruly and blue that it fitted nowhere. That’s why they left it in front of my window” (Fundación Pablo Neruda, 2020).

It is here in Isla Negra where Neruda and his wife, Matilde Urrutia, are buried together. As Neruda wrote:

“Companions, bury me in Isla Negra
in front of the sea I know, to each wrinkled area of stones
and to the waves that my lost eyes
won’t go back to see…”


If you’re interested in reading more of Neruda’s work, you can purchase a compilation of his ocean stories, “On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea”.

Editorial Reviews: From the Back Cover
On the Blue Shore of Silence celebrates the centenary of the birth of Pablo Neruda, one of the most widely read and best-loved poets of the twentieth century.

Although anthologies of Neruda’s works abound, On the Blue Shore of Silence is the first to collect some of his poems on the sea. At times passionate and at other times peaceful, the poems chosen for this collection — presented in bilingual format — are meant to offer readers the experience of what it would have been like to sit with Neruda at Isla Negra, the view of the sea endless, the pulse of the waves, eternal.

With English translations by his favored translator, Alastair Reid, and stunning paintings from the artist Mary Heebner, On the Blue Shore of Silence is a new cornerstone in Neruda’s body of work, expertly weaving together poet, artist, and reader.


Citations:

Pablo Neruda – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Tue. 19 May 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1971/neruda/facts/&gt;.

Fundación Pablo Neruda, Fundación Pablo Neruda, 2020. Tue. 19 May 2020.<https:// http://www.fundacionneruda.org/en/about-us/>.

“The Poetry of Living: Visit Pablo Neruda’s Homes in Chile.” Frommer’s, FrommerMedia LLC , 2020. Tues. 19 May 2020. <https:// http://www.frommers.com/trip-ideas/arts-and-culture/the-poetry-of-living-visit-pablo-nerudas-homes-in-chile>.

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