La Chascona – Santiago, Chile - Atlas Obscura

La Chascona

Pablo Neruda's custom-built lover's nest was made to remind him of the sea and named after his mistress' hair. 


Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda was known for his romantic verse and passionate life, and when he found that he needed a place to meet with his mistress he built La Chascona, an inland piece of seaside living that he named after his lover’s most striking feature, her hair. 

During his third and final return to Chile, Neruda met Matilde Urrutia, and the two struck up a heated affair. By this time in Neruda’s life, he was a nationwide (if not worldwide) celebrity. Being caught having an affair would have been disastrous for his image. His answer was to construct la Chascona (“messy hair” in English) in Santiago, a house where he and Urrutia could be alone together. A notorious lover of the sea, Neruda built the dining room in the style of a captain’s cabin, and the living room to look like a lighthouse. He filled the home with works of art from friends and family including a painting given to Neruda by Urrutia that displays his face hidden in her famously curly locks.

They would eventually wed and even be buried next to one another, leaving La Chascona as a symbol of their enduring love. The house is now in the hands of the Pablo Neruda Foundation in Chile. It is open for visitors, along with his other two Chilean homes. The home is a museum not just to Neruda’s final years, but also of his love of art and Matilde Urrutia. 

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