Our insider tip for hard-core fans to combine with Día de los Muertos and Halloween
Near Xochimilco otherwise known as the “Floating Gardens”, which is a network of manmade canals and famous for its flower market and colourful trajineras (excursion boats), is where you will find the Isla de las Muñecas (doll island).
Thousands of mutilated baby dolls hang from the trees and dangle in the wind, some of them are covered in spider webs. Their eyes stare blankly and convey the feeling of a secret pursuit.
The boat trip there is pleasantly calm as soon as you have crossed the touristy part of Xochimilco. And then suddenly it appears: the island of the dolls.
For more than 50 years, the island has been a tourist attraction with a sad and mysterious history. According to legend, a young girl drowned just off the island under very suspicious circumstances. Her uncle, Julián Santana Barrera, could not save her and was the one who found her dead.
After her death, Barrera started wildly collecting dolls and hanging them all over the island. He allegedly felt persecuted by his niece’s soul. According to his nephew, who is now the administrator of the island, Barrera heard the little ones complain all over the island, no matter what he did. In order to appease the dead soul, he hung up dolls everywhere. When that didn’t help, however, he began to crush the dolls.
As if the story wasn´t tragic enough, Barrera drowned himself in the same place 50 years after the girl’s death in 2001. Some say he was drunk, others say he had a heart attack. One thing is certain, the legend about the dead girl and the scary dolls lives on today.
Many tourists who visit the island bring dolls themselves and there are now dolls from all over the world The trip to Isla de las Muñecas was a little creepy for our colleague Anja, who accompanied our tour group during the Día de los Muertos celebrations.
“I never thought that exploring the island could be so oppressive. Especially after the legend was explained by Barrera’s nephew, I had a lump in my throat. The fact is, a visit to Doll Island is not for the faint-hearted.”
You can find a short video about the doll island on our Youtube-Channel.