Cultural route to honor life of Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral

With a total investment of US$11.4 million over the next two years, the 75 mile trail will pass through eleven historical sites from the Chilean poet’s life, and will include her childhood home in the Elqui Valley, a renovated museum and a new research center and library devoted to her work.

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A new route through the Coquimbo region in northern Chile will honor the life of the country’s first Nobel Laureate, the poet Gabriela Mistral, born in the region in 1899.

The route of 93 miles (150 km) will include 11 historical sites that mark important moments in the poet’s life, and will stretch from south of the coastal city of Coquimbo to the town of Pisco Elqui, deep in the mountainous Elqui Valley to the east.

One of the primary projects included in the route is Universidad de La Serena’s Mistraliano Center, a library and research center devoted to the poet and her work, which will be inaugurated on Dec. 10, 2010.

The brand new 6,200 sq ft (572 sq m) facility will be built in La Serena alongside the restored adobe building where Mistral began her teaching career in 1904, at the age of 15.

With a total investment of nearly US$2.9 million (CP$1.3 billion), the Mistraliano Center is the largest single project along the route, but represents only a quarter of the total investment, which will exceed over US$11.4 million (CP$5.5 billion) over two years.

The route will begin in the rural region south of Coquimbo at two of Mistral’s earliest teaching appointments, Cerillos and La Cantera, where the poet taught in 1909 and 1908 respectively. At Cerillos, a US$1.2 million (CP$ 588 million) investment will go toward renovating the building and creating a sculpture garden, while the renovated house at La Candera will house an exhibition of rural art.

In La Serena, two more sites will be rehabilitated in addition to the Center Mistraliano: the La Serena Girls’ School, where Mistral served as a secretary and inspector in 1907, and the Casa de las Palmeras, the house that Mistral purchased in 1925 upon returning to Chile from Mexico, where she worked for three years. The Council of National Monuments is currently analyzing a proposal to transform the latter into a regional library.

The remainder of the projects will be in the Elqui Valley, where Mistral was born and spent her childhood. In the town of Pisco Elqui, about 75 miles (120 km) from the beginning of the route, the school where Mistral’s father taught will be restored. In the nearby town of Monte Grande, where Mistral was born and later buried, the poet’s childhood home will be restored and new gardens installed around her tomb.

In Vicuña, at the heart of the Valley, the Gabriela Mistral Museum has already been renovated and will become part of a smaller, secondary route through historic sites within the town limits.

This post is also available in Spanish