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The Island of the Living Dead Dolls, Xochimilco

Updated on October 27, 2016

Come and follow me to the Canal of Xochimilco, with its unsettling mystical charm. Over hundreds of years the area has been desecrated to this one single canal, the sole tributary of the Xochimilco Lake... Here, an old legend tells a story that mirrors the survival and strength of the ancient Aztecs. It is the tale of La Isla de las Munecas, or : The Island of Dolls...

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Once upon a time, on a small island in Teshuilo Lake, between Xochimilco and Mexico City, three young girls were playing. As one of them drowned, the area soon became known as a haunted spot and few trespassed the land.

Sometime in the 1950s, a loner named Julian Santana Barrera chose this tiny island to live on. Being visited by the ghost of the girl who drowned there long ago - and by some other bad spirits too - he started collecting dolls he found in the trash.

With these dolls, Julian wanted to make the girl who drowned happy again, and also these dolls could keep the bad spirits away. He brought allo the old discarded dolls he could find to the island as an offering, and tied them to the trees, in addition to a special altar he constructed for the spirit child.

The Island of Dolls, the Most Creepy Place in the World

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For many years, this little island was forgotten. But then, in the 1990s, a program started to clean up the canals, and the Mexican style gondolas - called trajineras - again passed by the island.

Since Julian Santana had a wonderful garden, the locals brought old dolls in trade for fresh vegetables. And so, on Doll Island grew an amazing collection of thousands of dolls in various stages of disintegration.

A trip with Los Tigres del Norte to a surreal place deep into the water channels of Xochimilco, Mexico

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Coincidentally or not, Julian drowned at his island on April 17th, 2001. Obviously, he hadn't been strong enough to chase the bad spirits away, that once had drowned this little girl too.

Thanks to the visitor's donations, the family of Julian Santana can keep the place. But there is no electricity, no running water, no any other kind of utilities.

Cellular phones do get a signal though, as Xochimilco is inside the limits of Mexico City's Federal District.

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If you come and visit me, you best take a trajinera from the Cuemanco Pier and ask to be taken to the Island of the Dead Dolls.

It's a two hour trip. You will enjoy the beautiful views of the Xochimilco scenery.

Call me creepy and morbid, but I will make you look at Death & Demise in a different way.

Call me weird and bizarre, but once these silently aging dolls made a little spirit girl very happy, you know.

And even today I relish every new addition to my resting place.


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    • Cabo Photographer profile image

      Cabo Photographer 6 years ago from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

      Wow I had never heard of this, I´m quite glad I stumbled upon this hub! Thanks for the info!

    • profile image

      ALEX 7 years ago


    • profile image

      tina 7 years ago

      it just give me the goosebump

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      This is an amazing story!

    • Bhawna Sharma profile image

      Bhawna Sharma 8 years ago from Mumbai, India

      I never this such thing exists in world...

    • profile image

      Daniel 8 years ago

      Whoa, this is a very creepy lens! I love it lol

      Good job Dutchman!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 8 years ago from Ohio

      That is just creepy stuff. Dolls creep me out. hub! :)

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      Fascinating and creepy. Thanks for the informative and entertaining ride!

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      This is very interesting indeed!

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      It was I who was honored that you accepted my request! GRACIAS!!!

    • Kiki Stamatiou profile image

      Kiki Stamatiou 8 years ago from Kalamazoo

      This is such a fascinating and intriguing article. The notion of the man putting dolls in trees to apeas the dead little girl's spirit was a very beautiful gesture. I collect dolls myself. All kinds from baby dolls, to Barbie, Porcelain and the like. However, I never realized until reading this article that dolls can invoke such a spiritual experience. This is very beautiful indeed.

    • The Lost Dutchman profile image

      Patrick Bernauw 8 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

      Well... It was my pleasure (and I was really honored you asked me for this!).

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      Ahhh thank you mi amigo! I am so thrilled you wrote this. And what a great (and creepy) hub it is! I LOVED IT!!!!! My favorite hub ever!!!