A Casa Jose Saramago. Or the house of books would be an even better name for this place. Whether you are a huge Saramago fan or if you never heard of him – this place is still worth to visit. You will be mesmerized and impressed after your tour. Join us as we enter the world of Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago.
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A Casa Jose Saramago – Visit the house of Jose Saramago
Jose Saramago was born in Portugal but the last years of his life, he was living in Lanzarote. His wife, Pilar still comes and visits the house from time to time and a part of the family is living in the house next-door. During your visit to the house, you will learn a lot about Saramago and his life. You will visit two places – the library and then the main building where he lived. It is very interesting and you will probably end up spending a good two hours here.
I had heard the name Jose Saramago before but that was it. However, when I told my mother-in-law that we were going to visit his house she asked me if that was the guy that had written a book about people going blind?! Well, yes it is. And before this post continues with our visit to the house of Saramago we will just give you a small briefing on who Jose Saramago was.
Who was Jose Saramago
Saramago was born in Portugal and in 1998 he got the Nobel price in literature. To this day, he is the only Portuguese writer that has gotten this price. The reason that he moved to Lanzarote was that he had made the Christian people of Portugal mad with his novel “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” where he criticized the Catholic Church. Saramago was tired of the censorship that happened to his books and novels and moved. Pilar had family living in Lanzarote so that was why they chose this island.
In total, he wrote 40 books but then he also wrote poetry, theatre and other things. The most impressive thing is that he did not start his writing until he was 60 years old.
How does the visit to A Casa Jose Saramago work
This is a place where you are not allowed to wander by yourself. All the tours are made in a group and there is a guide that will take you through all the places. The guide will give you interesting information and point out the different things that are important. But you will also get an audioguide during the tour. When the guide has finished talking, he (or she) will let you know what number to press and you will listen to the audioguide.
This way of having guided tours is very thorough and at times it can feel like the same information is given all over. First, you listen to the guide and then you listen to the audioguide. And yes, at times it does become a bit “to much” but at the same time, it is still very interesting. If you are not speaking Spanish or English the audioguide also offer guides in Portuguese, French, Italian and German.
A Casa Jose Saramago – A small but impressive house
Throughout the tour, you will learn that Saramago was a simple man. That clashes with the collection of nice pens that is in his office. There you can see Mont Blanc pens and other nice and expensive things. But apparently, that was all gifts that he got. While writing, he used a simple pen and not the expensive once. And like always there is also artwork by Cesar Manrique (like everywhere in Lanzarote).
He collected figurines of horses. In the house, there are a lot of horses that he got from friends. There are a lot of artwork and nice things in this house, but it is said that it was all gifts. Blindness – his most popular book was written in this house and after his death, Pilar found another book in his computer – a diary from the year when he won the Nobel Price. This has also been printed and is his last book.
It’s like someone is still living there
This place does not feel like a museum. It feels like someone is still living there. And it is like time stood still, and somehow it does. Saramago stopped all the watches at 16.00 o’clock, that is the time that he met his wife Pilar (now how romantic is that?!). And maybe that is the feeling that they want us to get because during our visit we learned that Saramago liked to entertain and to drink coffee with family and friends.
So in all things Saramago, we all got a nice cup of coffee during our visit. And it is a special feeling – sitting at his porch, drinking coffee and admiring the view. What was going through his mind? What made him able to write books like that? Blindness was also made into a movie and after visiting this place, I can’t wait to see it!
Jose Saramago’s library – an impressive collection
The library was built in 2006 and it was built because there were just to many books in the house. Pilar used to say that when she wanted to read a book, it was easier for her to just buy the book instead of looking for it in their collection. That gives you a sense of how many books the couple actually had. 15 000 to be exact! This library was also where Saramago wrote some of his books.
Blindness is his most popular book and behind his desk, you can see all of his books and translations. It is impressive to see how well the books are placed and that they all are in order. And I love the way that Saramago treated the books and his way of looking at them …
“The books must be opened with care because they have the author inside. With all it’s sensitivity and with everything that has made him unique. You have to touch with your fingertips at the back of the book and nod, telling the writers that they are not forgotten”
By far my favorite is the painting that is on the wall behind the desk. The whole painting is made with candle smoke and yellow paint – how awesome is that?!
Information about A Casa Jose Saramago
Address: Camino de los Tope, 35572 Tías, Lanzarote.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 14.00. Sundays are closed.
Entrance fee: 8 Euros for one adult.