The Island of the Dolls, originally owned by Don Julián Santana Barrera, is full of dolls hanging from trees and buildings covered with cobwebs and insects. The place was named during the 1950s when the owner began to hang them as protection against evil spirits. Santana was a neighbour of the Barrio de la Asunción, where he used to go to drink pulque after having sold his vegetables, until, due to superstitions, he began to preach the Bible, being expelled from the sector.

According to legend, a young girl drowned entangled among the lilies of the canal and her body was found on the banks of the Santampa chinampas. Santana began to experience inexplicable situations so, terrified, placed dolls that he found in the garbage or in the canals of Cuemanco with the idea that they would scare the soul of the young girl who would cry out "I want my doll". He also found a doll floating nearby and, assuming it belonged to the deceased girl, hung it from a tree as a sign of respect, then when the owner of the island died he was in the same place where he saw the girl die. In 1987, an eco-tourist rescue was made and the island was found covered with water lily. Since then and after the death of Santana, the chinampa became a place of great tourist affluence. The place gained fame after 1943, when Mexican filmmaker Emilio Fernández filmed María Candelaria there, with Dolores del Río and Pedro Armendáriz as protagonists. A significant number of international and local channels have featured articles on the island, including The Huffington Post, Travel Channel and ABC News.

The dolls are still on the island, which is accessible by boat. The island was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures and the Amazon Prime show Lore. It was also featured in BuzzFeed Unsolved. Shane Madej, a firm skeptic of the paranormal, has asserted that he believes in the legends about the island. The Island was also used for the episode "Estas son Las Mañanitas" ( Season One Episode 10 ) of the Spanish TV comedy Nosotros los guapos for Televisa, where the main characters Vítor and Albertano are left behind on the island by a irritated Doña Cuca and as night falls they are rescued by the local emergency crews and end up on the news.

Access to the island

The island of the dolls is an hour and a half from Embarcadero Cuemanco. The only access is via trajinera. Most rowers are willing to transport people to the island, but there are those who refuse due to superstitions. The journey, approximately one hour, includes a tour of the Ecological Area, the Ajolote Museum, the Apatlaco Canal, the Teshuilo Lagoon and the Llorona Island. In addition to hundreds of dolls, the island also contains a small museum with some articles from local newspapers about the island and the previous owner. There are a store and three rooms, one of which seems to have been used as a bedroom. In this room is the first doll that Santana collected, as well as Agustinita, his favorite doll.

Some of the visitors place offerings around this doll in exchange for miracles and blessings, some others change their clothes and maintain it as a form of worship.