The Island of the Dolls

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Deteriorated dolls in La Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico City.

The Island of the Dolls (La Isla de las Muñecas), located in the channels of Xochimilco, south of the center of Mexico City, very close to the Estadio Azteca football stadium, is a chinampa of the Laguna de Teshuilo and one of the main attractions of the channels. Dolls of various styles and colors are found throughout the island, originally placed by the former owner of the island, Julián Santana Barrera. He believed that dolls helped to chase away the spirit of a girl who drowned years ago. He died in 2001 of a heart attack. Sources say he was close to the same spot where the girl drowned.[1]


Dolls seen from the lake

The Island of the Dolls, originally owned by Don Julián Santana Barrera, is full of dolls hanging from trees and buildings covered with cobwebs and insects. The place was named in the 1950s when the dolls started randomly appearing on the island. Santana was a neighbour of the Barrio de la Asunción, where he used to go to drink pulque after selling his vegetables, until he began preaching the Bible due to superstitions which led to him being expelled from the sector.[2][3]

According to a legend, a young girl drowned entangled among the lilies of the canal and her body was found on the banks of the Santampa chinampas. Santana claimed to have heard the girl crying out "I want my doll" and terrified, hung up the doll he found near the girl's body. After that, everytime he went outside he found a new doll hanging from one of the trees. He later died in the exact same spot as the drowned girl, and many believe that his death was caused by the girl's spirit, which still haunts the island. [4]

In 1987, an eco-tourist rescue was made and the island was found covered with water lily. After the death of Santana, the chinampa became a tourist attraction. The place began gaining fame in 1943, when Mexican filmmaker Emilio Fernández filmed María Candelaria there. with. [5] A significant number of international and local channels have featured articles on the island, including The Huffington Post, Travel Channel and ABC News.[6][7][8]

The dolls are still on the island, which is accessible by boat. The island was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures and the Amazon Prime show Lore. It was also featured in BuzzFeed Unsolved. Shane Madej, a firm skeptic of the paranormal, has asserted that he believes in the legends about the island.[9] The Island was also used for the episode "Estas son Las Mañanitas" ( Season One Episode 10 ) of the Spanish TV comedy Nosotros los guapos for Televisa, where the main characters Vítor and Albertano are left behind on the island by a irritated Doña Cuca and as night falls they are rescued by the local emergency crews and end up on the news.

Access to the island[edit]

Oldest doll in the Isla de las Muñecas, in Xochimilco, Mexico City

The island of the dolls is an hour and a half from Embarcadero Cuemanco. The only access is via trajinera. Most rowers are willing to transport people to the island, but there are those who refuse due to superstitions.[4] The journey, approximately one hour, includes a tour of the Ecological Area, the Ajolote Museum, the Apatlaco Canal, the Teshuilo Lagoon and the Llorona Island.[3]

In addition to hundreds of dolls, the island also contains a small museum with articles from local newspapers about both the island and the previous owner. There is a store and three rooms, one of which seems to have been used as a bedroom. In this room you can see the first doll that Santana collected as well as Agustinita, his favorite doll. Some of the visitors place offerings around the dolls in exchange for miracles and blessings and some others change their clothes and maintain it as a form of worship.


  1. ^ Hasnain, Muhammad. "Island of Dolls Mysterious islands". Retrieved 2020-06-20.
  2. ^ "La Isla de las Muñecas: Mística Experiencia". Archived from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  3. ^ a b "Los canales de Xochimilco". Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) in Mexico - Island of the Dolls".
  5. ^ "La "Isla de las Muñecas" causa terror en Xochimilco México". 15 November 2011.
  6. ^ Strutner, Suzy (14 August 2014). "Isla De Las Munecas Is The Island Of Decapitated Dolls From Your Nightmares". Huff Post.
  7. ^ "Island of the Dolls". Travel Channel.
  8. ^ "Doll Island Is Both Haunting and Charming". ABC News.
  9. ^ Flores Farfán, Sebastián (April 17, 2001). "Murió el señor de las Muñecas de Xochimilco" [The man of the Dolls of Xochimilco died] (in Spanish). Xochimilco, Mexico City: Borough of Xochimilco. Retrieved February 25, 2011.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 19°17′24″N 99°05′47″W / 19.2901°N 99.0965°W / 19.2901; -99.0965