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Isla de Las Munecas: Mexico’s Island of the Dolls

Canals Of Lake Xochimilico

The Canals of Xochimilico hold a mystical charm that seems almost unsettling. Over hundreds of years the area has been desecrated to only one canal. This sole tributary is all that is left of the ancient Lake Xochimilico.  Still, the strength of the Aztecs thrives in this remnant, this living alter of Mexico’s history.

On an island near the canals, an old legend tells a story that seems to mirror the survival and strength of the Mexican culture. The Island of Dolls, La Isla de las Munecas in Spanish, is known by many and respected by most.

Mexico's Island of Dolls

Dolls on the island (photo by aguayo courtesy of Flickr)

On a small island on Teshuilo Lake, between Xochimilco and Mexico City,  three young girls were playing in the area when one drowned. Of course the area become known as a haunted spot and few trespassed on the land.

A loner by the name of Julian Santana chose the place to live and honored the spirit child, said to haunt the area,  with dolls. Often, Santana would find old discarded dolls to bring to the island as an offering. The dolls, tied to trees, in addition to a special alter he constructed for the child, became known by locals.

What was also learned was that Santana had a wonderful garden of fresh produce. Locals began bringing old dolls in trade for fresh vegetables. The trade increased the collection so much that the island now has an amazing collection of thousands of dolls in various stages of disintegration.

Two Creepy Dolls from Isla de La Munecas

Two dolls from the island (photo by esparta courtesy of Flickr)

While creepy and even morbid may be the initial reaction, there is an amazing and uplifting sense that comes from this type of legend. The island became an alter that is still being visited and decorated today. Santana’s respect for the spirit child became a way for locals to honor her as well, even if it was for the fresh produce.

Island of dolls (photo by jennsu courtesy of Flickr)

Island of dolls (photo by jennsu courtesy of Flickr)

Much like the famed Dia de los Muertos, the Isla de las Munecas makes us look at death and demise in a different light. Morbid and strange differs from culture to culture and the dolls of this Island offer a surreal look at aging and death. While it may be strange, and even absurd, at one time it was believed that the dolls mad a little girl very happy. Who knows, maybe even today she relishes an addition to her island resting place.

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45 Responses to “Isla de Las Munecas: Mexico’s Island of the Dolls”

  1. aimee malasankas says:

    Great Story! This is really indeed freakish. I wonder what it would be like at night with just yourself on this island. I know I would not want to be there alone.
    Awsome pictures captured and well done! This page gave me little goose bumps all over! Aimee

  2. tina smith says:

    Saw this story on destination truth very interesting the crew actually got to stay overnight and captured some very strange occurances.

    Very interesting.

  3. Jenifer says:

    I also saw this story on Destination Truth and came looking for more information. The evidence they found of paranormal activity was very intersting. I find this story intreaguing. (sorry for the spelling) I would love to travel to this island some day.

    • kyle flater says:

      I just got done watching destination truth about this story and i too got attach to it…i am a huge fan of anything haunted and i too want to go here not dureing the day but at night and with a few friends not alot of people i like the feeling of being scared

  4. fhjdgfsjdfkjld says:

    Oh my god. I had a dream abput this before i even knew about this.

  5. Amber says:

    This is not a story this is true and if you go on youtube and type in Islnad of dolls a man visits there and a girl drowned in the water and now the caretaker of the island drowned in the EXCACT spot.

  6. Amber says:

    Soz for my spellin it suppose be Island

  7. Nessa says:

    I own dolls so it kinda creeps me out especially after seeing that show

  8. t33 says:

    i saw this on destination truth it freaked me out…..made me want to go there

  9. Jennifer says:

    Yea..I saw that on Destination Truth as well…weirddd…but it’s a must..I’m mexican..and I’m so inclined to visit that creepy place!!!

  10. Cat says:

    I saw this on Destination Truth, but Anthony Bourdain travelled there before that. Very very creepy place. All those dolls…*shudders*

  11. Koba says:

    That is really cool me and my group should go there too. The destination truth looked awesome!

  12. ninaa says:

    wows…saw this on destination truth today and called up my friend whos mexican and she actually knows some stuff about it and says that her family thinks the dolls are possesed and the poor little girl who died there likes to play with them still and will appear or appear without being noticed if you make an offering of a doll and some candy!if you ask me i think thats some spooky crap!

  13. know everything says:

    actually i dont believe in that i believe that all its fake

  14. know everything says:

    whatever i dont believe in anything like that its all fake i’ll say

  15. X says:

    Madre de Dios! This place is terrifying.

  16. Horrible says:

    O_O so horribleeeeee

  17. nothing says:

    oh ! very terrbible but very interensting 😉

  18. avisoo says:

    It’s not perfect living but at least its’s interesting..
    nice info 🙂

  19. Aiyana says:

    I’m just saying but I would never go there!!

  20. Amanda says:

    I also watched this on Desitnation Truth. Very interesting and super creepy! However, I believe that this Island is nothing more than a tourist trap!! The story is probably made up & the dolls were put there solely to attract tourist. But more power to them… still, I certainly would not want to be on that Island at night!!! Scary!!! Haha!

  21. step says:

    i saw the show and liked it

  22. AJ says:

    wonder how hard it is to get to this place and if just anyone can go, or if it’s considered trespassing? Would be interesting to make it a tourist attraction!

  23. tyler says:

    I saw this on destination truth I find that the little girl that drowned wasn’t murderd by the dolls but the other guy probalythe little girls sprit could be in the dolls

  24. Dr MExico says:

    Mr Santana died of misterious causes. His nephew was with him that day and he sayed Mr Santana looked scared, and started to talk about a mermaid wanted to take him. then his nephew went to get some milk for Mr Santana and when he came back, Santana had drown.

  25. akila says:

    guys im really scared, i saw the destination truth aswell and the other ones were people watch and investigate. It’s just freaky cause a doll said “leave” and another doll blinked and it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO scary. I dont think i can get eny sleep to day or they after and after and after until i forget about it and the exact date is NEVER :'(

  26. pala says:

    ok so i saw the destination truth and it was pretty creepy and i have tons of porcelin dolls in my room so its hard for me to not think about that episode now at night(my dolls are in better shape though).I think it would be fun to visit that place but super creepy to go at night and also the story behind it is quite facinating and i may need to do some research on this place so if anyone has anymore fact let me know.

  27. Yanira says:

    ummm! no u don’t because here in Georgia there has been rumors about those dolls that supposably kill n i don’t know i think its been proven on SCI-FI

  28. Daniel says:

    I really think that the spirit of the dead girl is haunting the place. because in Destination Truth they had an “alone” session and one guy was just suddenly thrown from where he was sited he was in a state of shock for a few minutes,and they saw some unexplainable scratches from his body,something like children scratches….its just freaky

  29. Jeff says:

    to daniel.. dude u are refering to a rong episode…. the one u refering to is alux forest

  30. RKKN says:

    I watched the Destination Truth with my class and when the doll blinked, everyone (esp. girls like including me) screamed.

  31. Jose says:

    I want to go here so bad. I saw this on Destination Truth (great show) and it was so creepy! They got to stay there overnight and collect some great evidence. At one point in the night they went to a shack filled to the brim with dolls and the girl said she thought she saw one of the dolls move! So the watched it very closely and after about a minute the doll opened its EYE!!! It was so creepy and made me want to go there all the more!

  32. bloody girl says:

    ouch as..I would like to go there, is beautiful .. I love these things .. just fascinate me .. it’s indescribable feeling .. if anyone wants to go with me? … hehehe .. I read somewhere that a man and doll lingerie on the island because it is a haunted girl who drowned in a canal .. but worst of all is that they find him dead in the same channel …. :)))

  33. danna says:


  34. Wendy says:

    I agree, those dolls are creepy, but I really doubt that one doll opened it’s eye all by itself. When the eyes get stuck and look closed, a slight movement can make it open. Another thing, why would the dolls or the ghost girl say “leave”? I pretty much doubt they speak English. I even doubt they can speak Spanish. For all we know, they speak Nahuatl (or Aztecan.)

  35. Nelly G. says:

    I saw this on destination truth, hella creepy, i say we should all take flight down there and investigate it ourselves!!! Lol…JK!!!

  36. Alexandra says:

    la isa de las munecas is the most scariest story!

  37. marcia says:

    i would like to go to isla las munecas island of dolls because i like freaky stuff and the dolls as an offering was a good idea

  38. Alexandra says:


  39. Alexandra says:

    ooooooooooohhhhhhhh nooooooooooooooo

  40. dwayne says:

    i just watched the destination truth show about this place and seen the creepy parts that happened,like when the eye opened up on the doll That was freaky..I would of crapped myself also . and they said a little girl had died there off the dock and thats what started the whole thing years agoThen the caretaker that lived there when the girl died , had died also right where she didbut the dolls were supposedly put there to to keep the girl at peace,but it didnt.. she got the caretaker and the caretakers son or nephew now runs the island but does it from another places miles away cuse of the dolls being possessed..I think the caretaker had something to do with the girls death,But noone ever said anything beyond that,.. thats my thought

  41. RiverBoatQueen says:

    My girlfriend visited this Island of the Dolls & she said from the moment she stepped off of the boat, she felt as if she was being watched by many eyes. The wind rustles the branches of the trees and the plastic bodies of the dolls emit a werid noice, like whimperings of a child. The sun was setting and it was time to leave, but the only boat broke down! Dusk was turning to dark when the tourists of the day were able to leave, and she said the dolls traded places with one another! She was getting confused and thought it was her imagination, but the other people saw what she saw and those crazy dolls trade places while you’re not watching too closely! Anyhow, they couldn’t leave quick enough! She was sure the boat would capsize, the waves grew tall as they motored away, and through the sound of the little outboard engine, she could hear the sound of a young girl singing a sad little song. It was very sad, and scary.

  42. WhateverTicklesYou'rePickel says:

    O M J !
    How freaky dude’s…
    terrifying it like almost made me like totally like pee on my pants. i was like yo’dude nuhhh uhhh thisia likw freaking ahh-maay-zing / crree-ppeee..

  43. adeline says:

    I LOVE DOLLS. I would so be down 🙂

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