Built on the ruins of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan - wherein stones are stained with the blood of human sacrifice, as well as betrayal and slayings at the hands of Spanish conquistadors - Mexico City is rumored to be filled with ghosts. For those interested in Mexico City's legends, however, not all of its ghosts are from the distant past. Stories of slayings and untimely passings haunt the streets, buildings, and back alleys of this metropolis - in places you can still visit today.
From the historic city center, which is home to long-ago human sacrifices and the Spanish Inquisition, to the flowering islands south of the city, wherein the Island of the Dolls provides a creepy and poignant memorial, these are the most haunted places in Mexico City. All remain in existence - in one form or another - though you may want to pay your respects from the outside, lest you find yourself on the wrong end of a ghostly visitation.
From an embarcadero in the Xochimilco mayoralty (or borough) in Mexico City, you can take a two-hour canal trip to the Island of the Dolls, which visitors have described as the creepiest place they have ever experienced.
One of several floating gardens in Xochimilco, the Island of the Dolls was home to its caretaker, Julián Santana Barrera. For many years, Barrera lived on the island and kept it in shape. One day, according to local legend, he found a lifeless little girl who had drowned in the nearby canal. Not long afterward, he discovered a doll floating in the water. Assuming it had belonged to the girl, he hung it up on the island as a show of respect. But that was only the beginning.
As the story goes, Barrera was haunted by the little girl, and he hung up more dolls to help appease her spirit. Those close to the caretaker claimed he was "driven by some unseen force that completely changed him." For 50 years, he continued collecting dolls and hanging them around the island. When he passed, it is said his body turned up in the same place where he had found the girl years earlier.
Since then, the island has become a tourist attraction. Visitors claim they hear the dolls whispering to one another and that empty doll eyes follow them as they move - though locals refer to the island as "charmed" rather than haunted. There are now thousands of dolls in various states of disrepair and dismemberment all over the island; visitors continue to bring new additions.
Translated literally as "the Black House," La Casa Negra is a 19th-century mansion in what was once the well-to-do neighborhood of Colonia Roma. Some say the imposing house was originally home to the Mondragón family. As the story goes, one night the entire family - parents and three children - perished in their beds under mysterious circumstances. Since then, the house has remained empty, and legend says no one has been able to spend more than a few hours inside.
What's so frightening about it? Those who have visited La Casa Negra say the temperature inside drops sharply after 10 pm, and the newly chilled air is haunted by strange sounds and screams. Doors open and close on their own. Those who have gone inside the house even say they have felt invisible hands pushing them toward the exit.
The abandoned house, its façade defaced by graffiti, is not open to the public. However, there are often food stalls on the street outside, so it's possible to stop by and grab a bite to eat. And, maybe as an added bonus, the Black House will give you something to see or hear that'll take up residence in your nightmares forever.
In the daylight, this alleyway in the municipality of Coyoacán appears unassuming enough, just another of the many alleys in Mexico City. But after the sun goes down, the alley is host to all manner of ghostly legends. One of the most popular tells of a family in a house along the alleyway that used a Ouija board to communicate with spirits; the ghosts proceeded to tell them the names of those who wished ill-intent on them.
One night, the ghost told the lord of the house to watch out for a betrayal by those closest to him. Thus, the man called his kin to a seance and offed them all, burying their bodies in the garden. Another story concerns an abandoned house in the alley where three young men went in search of treasure, only to fall victim to a terrible curse.
As the many stories surrounding El Callejón del Aguacate go, not even children are spared. One particularly disturbing tale describes a military man - in times long past - who walked through the alley on his daily journey home. Near the corner, which includes a small shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the man passed by a young boy who frequently asked the soldier to come play with him. Enraged by the boy's pleas, the soldier lashed out at the child and hung his body from a nearby tree - some modern-day visitors claim you can still see the boy's face in the bark.
Others have even alleged the alley is the home of Satan himself. Supposedly, he makes deals with those who come to visit - always to their own detriment.
On a nondescript street in Mexico City's Colonia Ermita neighborhood stands an unassuming house that holds within its walls the memory of a terrible wrongdoing - or so the story goes. Rumor has it that, during the early 1990s, a young man living in the house cut up his entire family at the behest of voices in his head.
He supposedly spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital. Lest an unknown power take hold of any other families, the house - which has a humble exterior - has remained largely unoccupied ever since. Whenever anyone moves in, they end up packing up and leaving in short order.
Though there are no specific descriptions of paranormal happenings, one resident of the neighborhood describes "a cold wave of bad vibes" emanating from the house after midnight.