La Chascona

Top choice historic building

in Santiago
Brent Winebrenner / Getty Images
Brent Winebrenner / Getty Images

When poet Pablo Neruda needed a secret hideaway to spend time with his mistress Matilde Urrutia, he built La Chascona (loosely translated as 'Messy Hair'), the name inspired by her unruly curls. Neruda, of course, was a great lover of the sea, so the dining room is modeled on a ship's cabin and the living room on a lighthouse.

Audio tours (available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish) take you through the history of the building and the collection of colored glass, shells, furniture and artwork by famous friends – sadly much more was lost when the house was ransacked during the dictatorship. The Fundación Neruda, which maintains Neruda's houses, has its headquarters here and runs a lovely gift shop.