La Chascona was one of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s three houses, the others being his house in Isla Negra and La Sebastiana, his house in Valparaíso. Located in the capital, Santiago, in the Barrio Bellavista neighborhood on the slopes of San Cristóbal Hill, La Chascona retains the poet’s signature quirky style, in particular his love of the sea, and is now a popular destination for tourists. “La Chascona appears as a house of fairytales, an enchanted garden hanging over the city. The same spirit that brings Neruda’s poetry to life is also present in his houses. The houses of Neruda spill over into his poetic works.”
Neruda began work on the house in 1953 for his then secret lover, Matilde Urrutia, whose signature curly red hair inspired the house’s name (chascona is a Chilean Spanish word of Quechua origin referring to a wild mane of hair). In his house there is a painting given to Urrutia by Neruda depicting a two faced Urrutia with her famously long bright red hair. What is remarkable about this painting is that one face depicts the Urrutia as the singer the public knew, and the other depicting the lover Neruda knew. The painting also has a hidden image; the profile view of Neruda's face hidden in her hair, showing their continuous secret relationship. Urrutia would become the poet’s third wife and she took on the task of restoring the house following the poet’s death in 1973, when La Chascona suffered damage during the military coup.
La Chascona is managed today by the Pablo Neruda Foundation.
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