Pablo Neruda in Valparaiso

21 Jan

“Laughter is the language of the soul.”
― Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda is a Chilean poet beloved of his country and its people.  He was born and wrote in Chile for most of his lifetime. One of his favorite homes in all of Chile was “La Sebastiana,” the colorful house and garden he built in Valparaiso.

DSC05554Neruda is known, primarily, for his love poems but his life was one of a political activist and his work covered many more genres. He was a communist at a time in Chile when it meant being an outlaw to the government. In 1948 he had to be hidden by his friends in Valparaiso before escaping through the mountains to Argentina  then living in exile in Europe for a number of years before returning to Chile. He died during the coup d’etat of Augusto Pinochet and despite an attempt to quash a public mourning the people of Chile grieved in the streets.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez called Neruda,”the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

DSC05566Neruda saw himself as a builder and creator of spaces. One of his greatest personal creations was “La Sebastiana.” The house has a playful, light filled quality as it towers precariously on a hillside in the Cerro Bellavista neighborhood overlooking the sea. The house is filled with objects and architectural elements that speak to a man who loved color, imagination and fantasy.

Mosaics are found throughout the house and the grounds using natural stone and ceramic tile in abstract and geometric designs.

DSC05569The most striking design aspect of Neruda’s house in Valparaiso are the views out over the bay. He called his favorite armchair “The Cloud” and he loved to sit in it, up against the windows faced out to the sea.  When away from Chile on his many political appointments he spoke of wishing he were back on The Cloud.





Neruda loved being surrounded by his friends at meals and at the many parties in the house. He had a special drink he concocted and would dress up in a costume to serve in his private bar. He was known for his New Year’s party overlooking the famous fireworks of Valparaiso.


“We the mortals touch the metals,
the wind, the ocean shores, the stones,
knowing they will go on, inert or burning,
and I was discovering, naming all the these things:
it was my destiny to love and say goodbye.”
― Pablo NerudaStill Another Day

4 Responses to “Pablo Neruda in Valparaiso”

  1. Ellen Gregor January 21, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Lovely! I would like to be you for a few hours, okay?

    • Jill January 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      Sure. Anytime you would like. Remember the time difference though.

  2. Ursula Freer January 21, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    thanks for sharing the beautiful sights!

    • Jill January 21, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      Our pleasure. J

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