La Sebastiana is one of poet Pablo Neruda's three quirky homes that have been converted into museums honoring the distinguished Nobel laureate's work and life. Neruda is Chile's most beloved poet, and the country's most famous literary export. Even if you haven't familiarized yourself with Neruda's work, this museum is worth visiting to explore this eccentric home and view the whimsical knickknacks he relished collecting while traveling in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Neruda searched for poetry in the most mundane of objects. From a carousel horse brought from Paris to a chest of drawers wrenched from a ship, Neruda developed a collector's zeal for what most people would view as junk. The poet called himself an "estuary sailor"; although terrified of sailing, he nevertheless was spellbound by the sea, and he fashioned his homes to resemble boats, complete with porthole windows. Neruda named the house after its architect, a "poet of construction" Sebastián Collado, who had searched relentlessly for a site that would afford a panoramic view of the city. When Collado died, Neruda bought the house and in September 1961 it became the home where he would spend a great deal of time during the last decade of his life. The organized chaos that characterizes this home is a perfect microcosm of Valparaíso itself. While Neruda's house at Isla Negra is the most authentic, revealing more poignantly Neruda's spirit and lifestyle, at La Sebastiana visitors are able to wander freely at their own pace -- something you can't do at Neruda's other museums. There are self-guiding information sheets that explain the significance of important documents and items on display. A cultural center is here too, with a gallery and a gift shop.
The walk from Plaza Victoria is a hike, so you might want to take a taxi. From Plaza Ecuador, there's a bus, Verde "D," or the colectivo no. 39.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010