Just south of Mexico City but still inside that country's Federal District, lie a series of canals in a borough known as Xochimico. These canals are all that remain of what was once an extensive waterway connecting area settlements long before the arrival of the Spaniards. Further, the aqueducts now connect a maze of artificial islands known as chimampas, which collectively, serve as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist attraction accessible to visitors only by trajinera, a gondola-like boat. Located in remote part of these waterways however, is a unique attraction that is not a regular feature of the trajinera tours. In fact, it is a place that many natives and visitors alike distance themselves from. Indeed, The Island of the Dolls (la Isla de las Muñecas) is often referred to as the creepiest place on Earth--and perhaps, with good reason!
Visits to the island are expensive and by special arrangement only. Still, for those undeterred by the extra cost and local stories of whispering dolls beckoning outsiders to the island, a trip there will be a most memorable experience.
As the story goes, the chimampa was inhabited by only one man decades ago. His name was Don Julian Santana. One day, he found the body of a young girl floating in the canal. She had apparently drowned. While overcome with grief over her death, he spotted a doll floating in the canal. After retrieving it, he hung the marionette in a tree in an effort to both placate the spirit of the dead girl and to ward off any evil that might come to his island of residence as a result of her drowning. Not satisfied with the protection offered by just one doll, Santana began searching the canals for others, which he in turn, also hung from the trees. It is said that over time, his never ending quest for more dolls led him to various trash piles. Each new one found was hung somewhere on his tiny island. According to his family, which now runs the island, Don Julian Santana collected and displayed the dolls primarily because he wanted the spirit of the drowned girl to be happy as well as to ward off evil. Many of them had previously been rejected by their original owners, which lends an even more creepy ambiance to Don Julian's former residence.
Since that time, many visitors have also left dolls scattered around the Island and today, there is no where a visitor can walk without being followed by the dolls' icy stares. In 2011, one visitor named Debrah Eastwood visited La Isla de las Muñecas and described her experience this way:
"It was frightening and very surreal...
"...I don’t look at the images too often, but when I do, it still brings
back goosebumps and the sick feeling I had in my gut. It is one of the
most unusual places I have ever visited, and for that alone I am glad;
but if I ever go back, I will make sure to bring a friend and freak them
I don't know about all of you, but The Island of the Dolls sounds like a place I'd like to visit.
To the best of my knowledge, credit for the top photo goes to Debrah Eastwood. The bottom two were found at Google's Island of the Dolls Photo Collection.
For more information visit the Island Review's Island of the Dolls page.
You can also go here or or here
for more photos and information.