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LANDMARKS - Legends of Mexico: The Island of Creepy Dolls

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Drifting through the maze of Xochimilco’s canals is the small and haunted chinampa of Laguna de Teshuilo, famously known as Isla de las Munecas or The Island of Creepy Dolls. Listed as one of the world’s 25 most creepiest places by National Geographic, the eeriness of visiting these haunted dolls is amplified by visiting during sunset hours.

The tragic history behind this collection of dolls began with a young girl who drowned here. The caretaker of the island, Don Julian Santana Barrera, was forever grieved after finding this young child, for not only was he unable to save her, he began to fear her spirit was haunting the island.

The original doll is enshrined nside the small cabin

A doll that was floating in the canal surfaced near the location where the little girl had drowned. Convinced it must have belonged to the little girl, Don Julian placed the doll in a tree, to show respect to the little girl. Sadly, Don Julian began suffering from a deep rooted belief that the little girls spirit was haunting the island – and his belief in the paranormal resulted in more and more dolls suspended in trees and nailed to buildings, as offerings to appease the little girl.

There is some speculation that Don Julian was overwhelmed with guilt for not being able to save her life, in conjunction with possible onset of a mental illness made worse due to the majority of his time spent in isolation. Whatever the case, the island is now a shrine of ghostly dolls whose eyes will follow you, as you wander about the island. Guests have reported hearing the dolls whisper, while others bring their own dolls from childhood to leave as an offering to both the little girl, and the spirit of Don Julian, who died on the island in 2001.

Due to popularity of this intriguing island and apparent haunting of Don Julian, a myth was fabricated that Don Julian was found drowned, in the same location where the little girl had died. Though it may be dramatic and tragic to romanticize about such a fate, in reality, it simply isn’t true.

Visiting Isla de las Munecas is a popular activity for visitors to Xochimilco, though one most visitors to the canals never embark on, due to the distance from the nearest embarcadero. When you tour with us from Mexico City, contact us ahead of time if you would like to visit this eerie and mythical place. We will provide a lovely picnic, for a tranquil trajinera ride to the haunted island of Don Julian.

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