There are plenty of spooky and haunted destinations in this world. In California, the Winchester Mystery House (that was built for the troubled souls of those slain with Winchester rifles) must be the creepiest in the Bay Area.In Mexico City, one of the creepiest must be the Island of the Dolls (called La Isla de las Muñecas in Spanish).The Island of the Dolls is located on Teshuilo Lake in the channels of Xochimilco to the south of the center of Mexico City and was listed by CNN as one of the freakiest places in the world. There are many attractions and things to do in Mexico City - it offers much more than old Aztec ruins and early Spanish Colonial architecture.


The Spooky Tale of The Island of Dolls

"La Isla de las Muñecas, or the Island of the Dolls, is the stunningly morbid creation of a man named Don Julian Santana, who lived as a hermit on an island for some 50 odd years until his death in 2001."

CNN Travel

The island's strange collection of dolls was created by the former owner of the island Julián Santana Barrera. Wander around the island and see dolls of various styles and colors all around the island. Julian Santana Barrera believed that the dolls would chase away the spirit of a girl who unfortunately drowned there years ago. In 2001 Julian Barrera was found dead from a heart attack - some say he was found dead close to where the girl drowned.

  • Julián Santana Barrera: The Hermit Who Owned The Island And Place the Dolls Around

Over the 50 years, he lived on the island and amassed a large collection of dolls. But these aren't just nice dolls, they are dismembered, broken, and often hung in trees around the island.

  • The 1950s: The Dolls Started Appearing In The 1950s

The name "Island of the Dolls" first popped up in the 1950s when the dolls started to randomly appear on the island.

Related: Long Before The Aztecs, This Ancient City Was One Of Largest In The World (And It's A Day Trip From Mexico City)

The Superstitious Legends and Folklore of The Island

It remains a point of connection whether he sought to communicate with their spirit through the dolls or even if the girl actually ever existed in the first place. But it is clear from the versions of the legend that he dedicated the dolls to the spirit of the little girl. Perhaps he wanted to give the little girl some toys to play with.

The story has it that the young girl drowned after getting entangled among the lilies of the canal. One legend has it that Santana claimed to have heard the girl crying out "I want my doll." Every time he would go outside, he found a new doll and hung it from one of the trees.

Santana used to preach the Bible but was expelled due to his superstitions. Making the island even spookier, it is said that he died because of the girl's spirit that continues to haunt the island. The island has been featured in a number of major news outlets and even the Amazon Prime show Lore.

To this day, the dolls remain there hanging from the trees "like sacrifices" as CNN Travel puts it.

Related: Templo Mayor: The Aztec Temple In Mexico City That You Probably Haven't Heard Of Yet

Visiting The Island of Dolls

After Santana died, the island became a tourist attraction. Today one can visit the island, but one will need to get there by boat. The only access is via trajinera. Most of the local rowers are happy to transport people to the island, but there are some who refuse to do so out of fear of the superstitions surrounding the island.

  • Access: By Boat
  • Museum: There Is A Small Museum On the Island
  • Duration: A Tour Of The Island Takes Around An Hour

The island also has a small museum that exhibits various articles from local newspapers about the island and Santana. One will find a store and three rooms, in that building one will see Agustinita - his favorite doll.

  • Location: 29 Kilometers From Mexico City On Teshuilo Lake

The island is very close to the Estadio Azteca football stadium. Tours to the island include the ecological area, the Ajolote Museum, the Apatlaco Canal, the Teshuilo Lagoon, and the Llorona Island. If one is looking for a spooky Halloween activity to do in Mexico, then consider visiting the haunted Island of Dolls.