Between the canals of Xochimico there is a small island which has in more recent years become a tourist destination for those looking for something a little creepier than a beach resort. Most do not know the sad and tragic history of the island. The thousands of rotting dolls with severed limbs, decapitated heads, and blank eyes hanging from the trees create a creepy enough environment to the Island of Dolls, but if they knew the whole story they may not have ever so much as considered visiting. Welcome to La Isla de la Munecas…
The island’s original caretaker Don Julian was said to be a kind man that loved children and an artist in his own right when it came to gardening. In the early days of the island he kept it as an open location for tourists to nearby Mexico City and while it was not nearly as popular or infamous as it is now it did have its visitors. One such visitor was a young girl, and it’s with her that the tragedy struck forever changing the island.
The young girl vanished and was found days later drowned in one of the islands many streams. Some say Don Julian himself was responsible, others say that he tried to save her, either way the death drove him to madness. He became possessed with an obsession over the girl, demanding that her spirit was with him at all times on the island. Before long he began refusing to leave the island at all and worked tirelessly to adorn the trees with dolls in an offering to the girl’s spirit. It is a mystery to this day where he acquired so many dolls, some say he would travel into the city and collect them from the garbage, but there is however a much creepier version. Legend tells that after the girl’s death the dolls began washing up on the shores of the island by the hundreds, in fact this is the version that has witnesses, it’s just that it’s almost too creepy to believe.
Don Julian never closed the island to tourists, in fact not much changed at all except that now his gardening was done by hanging derelict dolls from the trees. La Isla de la Munecas’ infamous reputation for utter creepiness began to grow and more and more people began to visit. Rumours began that the dolls were possessed with the spirit of the girl. Visitors would tell of seeing their heads move, of hearing whispers like a thousand voices from dolls across the island chanting the same word "leave".
The last of the dolls was hung just a few years ago when Don Julian was found dead in the same stream as the girl. The official cause was drowning, but what led to the drowning we’ll never know. Today the island is just as Don Julian left it and the additional years have more than added to the creepiness. La Isla de la Munecas, or the Island of Dolls is under the jurisdiction of the Mexican Federal District and to this day remains open to the public.
The location shown on this map is where trajineras; wooden, vibrantly painted boats that are propelled using a long stick can be hired to take you to the Island of Dolls, or La Isla de la Munecas. The trajinera trip along the canals to the Island of Dolls will take you at minimum two hours, so be prepared.