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Dark Tourism In Mexico: 10 Sad, Strange & Macabre Destinations!

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Ah, Mexico! A land known for beauty and beaches, and a scathing underbelly of cartels and Aztec sacrifices. If you’re looking for a destination that has it all, you’re bound to find it here.

This Central American gem is a favorite for tourism, thanks to its versatility. From lazy days lounging about beach resorts, to jungle tours and adrenaline-pumping adventures, Mexico is a land of plenty if you know where to look.

But as we mentioned, it’s not a country without its flaws, and Mexico has an unfortunate dark side that often sees it masked as villainous by TV.

Its past is turbulent, and while it once housed some of the most advanced civilizations in human history, they weren’t exactly known for being the best dinner hosts – If you catch our drift.

Well, one man’s tragedy is another man’s adventure, and Mexico is now a hub for dark tourism enthusiasts to learn about everything from human sacrifice to the resilience of the human spirit.

That’s why we’re going to explore the culture, history, and the just plain bizarre in our quest to find the best dark tourism destinations in Mexico.

Let’s get wild!

Cancun, Mexico. Traditional handcrafted historic Mexican souvenirs artwork for sale at shop Kruklitis

Ten Macabre, Strange & Interesting Dark Tourism Destinations of Mexico!

1. La Isla de las Munecas

The Island of Dolls

The Island of Dolls, hidden within Xochimilco’s canals, is a place straight out of the twisted mind of movie imagineers like Tim Burton.

Now the legend surrounding the island has many versions, but the general consensus seems to point to one truth. Don Julian Santana started collecting the dolls as an offering to a drowned girl’s spirit.

It started with one doll, her doll, which washed up on the shores after she tragically lost her life. Over time, the collection grew. Santana believed the dolls protected him and brought peace to the little girl’s restless soul.

Sadly, Santana has since passed on, but he’s left behind a rather eerie reminder. The Island of Dolls is definitely haunting, but the story behind it just makes your heart sink.

Once you get past the unsettling atmosphere and the seemingly endless ocean of lifeless dolls’ eyes watching your every move, you can almost admit the gesture is sweet. However weathered and worn, the dolls add to the island’s enigmatic allure.

Despite the unnerving feeling, the Island of Dolls has captured the imagination of many a wary traveler who seeks thrill and adventure beyond the normal scope. It’s a powerful showcase of the depth of human emotion and, frankly, quite admirable. Santana was a braver man than most.

Honestly, we would have been on the first canoe off those sandy shores the second we saw the first doll show up, let alone thousands. We’ve seen how Annabelle ends, thank you very much.

Location: La Isla de las Munecas

Tags: Paranormal; Dark History

2. The Haunted Streets of the Real Del Monte 

Real Del Monte is a charming town in Hidalgo, Mexico, that has quite a history attached to its picturesque streets.

While it might seem like a paradise by day, the streets flip when darkness falls, and the pretty facade is washed away by the haunting whispers of ghosts and ghouls. There’s a world of haunting folklore and legends beneath the surface, waiting for fearless tourists to discover them.

One of the most enduring tales that grip the cobblestone streets is that of the “White Lady,” who is said still to roam the town in search of her long-lost lover. It’s these myths and stories that have garnered a reputation for Real Del Monte.

And while not everyone is a fan of brushing shoulders with tortured spirits on the streets at night, we can promise you that nothing will keep paranormal fanatics from embracing this town’s quirky disposition.

Real Del Monte’s historic buildings are not immune to the supernatural. These ancient structures that were once a pinnacle part of this once-booming mining town are now homes to a menagerie of specters and spooks—the majestic Hacienda San Miguel Regla, for example.

So we’d grab our ghostbusting gear and head to the cobblestone streets of this hidden Hidalgo gem if you’re looking for a paranormal thrill!

Location: Real Del Monte, Hidalgo, Mexico

Tags: Paranormal

3. Santuario Nacional del Angel de la Santa Muerte

National Sanctuary of the Angel of Santa Muerte

Santa Muerte, known as the “Saint of Death,” is a well-respected and controversially revered member of Mexican beliefs.

She’s garnered quite the fan club, although some might call it a cult, with her very own church in Mexico City. Do you know the saying “Memento Mori”? Remember your mortality; well, Santa Muerte embodies this belief.

And while we were expecting something dark and twisted, you’d be pleasantly surprised to find that the following of Santa Muerte and the church they worship in are bright and vibrant.

The air is thick with the scent of burning candles, an essential part of the ritualistic offerings to Santa Muerte. Devotees, adorned in colorful clothing, kneel before the skeletal figure, whispering prayers and presenting gifts.

While Santa Muerte’s cult holds deep meaning for its followers, it has faced controversies and misunderstandings from those who misconstrue it as a dark practice.

However, for many, devotion to Santa Muerte is a genuine expression of faith, hope, and a belief in the interconnectedness of life and death.

Throughout the year, the temple hosts vibrant celebrations and rituals, with the Day of the Dead being one of the most significant events. This celebration allows devotees to pay homage to their departed loved ones and seek Santa Muerte’s guidance and protection in a joyful and spirited atmosphere.

It’s hardly what we had it pegged for, and visitors are reportedly very welcome to come and learn about their beliefs.

Location: Nicolás Bravo 35, Zona Centro, Venustiano Carranza, 15270 Ciudad de México

Tags: Paranormal; Supernatural; Dark History; Disaster Tourism; War Tourism

4. Callejon Del Beso

The Alley of Kisses

Callejon del Beso is an iconic symbol of romance, and the reported home of a real-life Mexican Romeo and Juliet story.

Carlos and Ana lived on opposing sides of the alley, which is basically the best setting for any teenage romance, and spent their days whispering sweet nothings to one another from their balconies.

Ana’s father, however, disapproved of the romance and hated Carlos with such immensity that he killed his own daughter to prevent their love. Carlos, heartbroken, took his own life. Sound familiar? Well, Shakespeare couldn’t have written this star-crossed tragedy any better!

Fortunately for us, it seems the spirits of the young lovers are stubbornly holding on to their alley, as visitors to the area still claim to feel the presence of the ill-fated lovers as they walk through the narrow passage.

Now the alley stands as a romantic symbol of sorts and is often visited by love-sick couples who want to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, love-themed murals, and of course, to partake in the legend!

What legend? Well, if you kiss in the center of the alley, the star-crossed couple will bless you with seven years of happiness and prosperity.

Location: Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico

Tags: Paranormal; Supernatural; Dark History; Disaster Tourism; War Tourism

5. Viejo San Juan Parangaricutiro

San Juan Parangaricutiro was once a vibrant town where life was peaceful, and the colorful streets were filled with bright laughter. It was a gorgeous and scenic place to live, tucked in the foothills of a volcano. The land around the town was lush and green, and despite their daunting natural neighbor, the people were happy there.

It was February 1943 when a volcano ripped its way to the surface of a small, local cornfield. Nearly a year later, San Juan Parangaricutiro and another neighboring town were swallowed by ash and lava.

With the exception of the San Juan Parangaricutiro church, which was the only building that withstood nearly a decade of barrage by one of earth’s most destructive natural forces.

Thankfully, today, the Parícutin volcano is dormant, but framed by the surviving archway of the church remains a looming source of fear for local villages.

The people of San Juan Parangaricutiro have rebuilt, and while they remain wary of the dome-shaped mountain in the distance, their way of life persists, along with a sense of faith that the ruins of the old church give them.

Tourists gather in the region in droves to clamber across the lava rock and stand beneath the remnants of the original church.

If you visit, you’ll be awestruck and obviously dumbfounded that houses today can’t survive a bad bit of rain, yet a 20th-century church can withstand a literal volcanic eruption. Must be an act of God.

Location: Angahuan, 60155, Mexico

Tags: Disaster Tourism

6. The Illegal Border Crossing Experience

The sad reality is that while Mexico sits as a destination of luxury and leisure for some, it’s a very different and harsh reality for others.

Trump made the world well-aware of the immense influx of undocumented and unregistered immigrants across the Mexican-US border, and often you’ll see TV shows and movies touch on the subject as well. Year in, and year out, thousands of desperate individuals seek to build a better life, and in doing so risk their own to get it!

Someone, however, has decided to take a stance, and bring awareness to this very real plight in the form of a very realistic illegal border crossing experience.

That’s right, for a wad of cash and the risk of your sanity, you can spend up to 6 gruelling hours being hunted down by thugs, gangsters and militia across deserts, mountains and rivers.

Now we’ve heard of thrill seeking, but this is a step above anything we thought possible. One thing is for sure, we don’t believe there’s a single person who’s returned from this tourism experience unchanged.

It’s all good and well to reminisce on real-world issues that have long-since been solved, but for many people across the world, dangerous border crossings like this are a daily reality.

The experience might seem crass, and we agreed, at first. But it was not built to make light or poke fun of the issue at hand, instead it gives a truly surreal experience that sucks you out of your comfort zone, and drops you smack into someone elses sole-worn shoes.

Location: Parque EcoAlberto

Tags: Dark Tourism

7. Museo de la Muerte

The Museum of Death

It seems like everywhere you travel to has its own rendition of a Museum of Death and Mexico is no exception to the rule.

The Museo de la Meurte can be found in the heart of Aguascalientes, and brings light to the enigma of the afterlife. It’s not a museum to gawk at the talented brush strokes of artists, but rather an on-the-nose and occultish fan tribute to our own mortality.

Like many other dark tourism marvels, you’ll feel a notable shift in the air as you walk amongst these morbid and macabre exhibits.

However, we’ve got to say one thing, if there’s any Museum of Death that can make us face our mortality in a colourful way, this would be it.

Death is a major part of Mexican culture, and has been a somewhat celebrated and well-embraced part of life since the days of Mayan Empires. And trust us, when it comes to the art of dying, the Mayans did it with flare! From beguiling ancient rituals to the art of mourning, the museum weaves a captivating narrative that’s both eerie and enlightening.

They house a collection of skeletal remains and creepy artifacts that act like the scene of a car crash. You don’t want to look but you just can’t help it!

You’ll just be glad you were born in an era where health conditions, old age, and the occasional serial killer were the biggest oppositions to your life. We’ll take Bundy of ritualistic sacrifice any day, thank you very much!

Location: Rivero y Gutiérrez entre José María Morelos y Pavón, Zona Centro, 20000 Aguascalientes, Ags., Mexico

Tags: Dark History

8. Zona del Silencio – Mexico’s Bermuda Triangle

The Zone of Silence

We’ve all heard of the Bermuda Triangle, but did you know that Mexico has its very own version of it?

The Zona del Silencio is a mysterious dead zone where radios don’t work, the laws of physics would make Oppenheimer cry, and meteorites seem to find a bullseye. If you’re looking for a realm of science fiction and absurdity, congratulations, you’ve found it.

The Zona Del Silencio is nestled deep within the rugged terrains of Durango, Mexico, and has earned its name for a reason.

Where most remote places would have the sweet symphony of birdsong and wildlife, this strange stretch of land remains incomprehensibly silent. It’s an area so bizarre that even scientists are left baffled by the weird anomalies that happen here.

To name a few, radio signals go haywire, there are plenty of mysterious lights in the sky, and the air always feels like it’s on the verge of a lightning strike. Simply put, this is any parent’s perfect solution for a phone-free getaway!

Seriously, we’d pack some board games if you plan to spend the night near here. Your technology has no power here! Or, you could just make friends with the X-Files aficionados that flock here throughout the year.

Legends of strange creatures and UFO sightings add to the cosmic cocktail, making Zona del Silencio a magnet (literally!) for paranormal enthusiasts and sci-fi nerds from all walks of life.

See, who said exploring the remote desert can’t be fun? Maybe not for us.

Location: Chihuahua desert, Durango, Mexico

Tags: Paranormal; Supernatural; Alternative Tourism

9. The Ruins of Teotihuacan

It’s about time we got to the juicy history behind Mexico’s long revered history. And the Ruins of Teotihuacan are a good place to start.

Not many countries can say they house the remnants of one of the world’s most notorious civilizations! And before you go on to think about Aztecs and Mayans, we’ll put a brake in that thought process right now. This archeaological site is so old, that even the Aztecs didn’t know who built it.

Teotihuacan is situated just outside of Mexico City, and is a dark tourism destination you really don’t want to miss.

By now, you’ve probably become accustomed to seeing ruins while on your trip, but when you stare up at the massive pyramid-like structures of this archaeological site, you’ll truly understand what a marvel it is. After all, we’re talking about monumental architectural feats!

This goes beyond your normal historical site. There’s only one song to describe this place “Where did they come from? Where did they go? Where did they come from? Ruins of Mexico!”. Hey, we’re writers and travellers, not musicians, give us some slack!

It’s a site that has had the world’s brightest and bravest baffled for centuries. But one thing is for certain, whoever the creators of this incredible ancient civilization were, they have left a lasting impression on the world!

So grab your fedoras and unleash your inner Indiana Jones – minus the snakes, of course! Wander up the steps of pyramids, and into the dark halls of ancient homes. Discover centuries old artworks, and try avoid the sacrificial tombs.

Location: San Juan Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, Mexico

Tags:  Dark History, Mystery

10. Museo de los Instrumentos para la Tortura

The Museum of Instruments of Torture

Now, not only is Museo de los Instrumentos para la Tortura a mouthful to pronounce, but it’s a lot to take in. We’ve covered a museum of death, and honestly that was less morbid than this!

Imagine, an entire museum with exhibits dedicated to Instruments of Torture! And no, we’re not talking about dental chairs or nails on a chalkboard, although the latter is a close second.

Be prepared to confront the darkest parts of human history, and come face-to-face with the tools of the torture trade. This goes beyond the medieval iron maidens, introducing you to a whole new genre of devices whose sole purpose was to bring their prisoner as much pain as humanly possible.

Luckily, devices like these have long-since been decommissioned. Instead, we have modern day torture devices like Baby Shark, and Cbat. And frankly, we’ll take a personal reenactment of any of these devices over exposing ourselves to the psychological trauma of the movie “Cats” again. And that’s saying something.

But fear not for the purpose of this museum isn’t to give you nightmares (well, not too many) but to shed light on the more warped portions of our past. The exhibits are thought-provoking, and sometime spine-chilling, but serve a really good purpose. They’re a weird and macabre reminder of how far we’ve come. So yay us, we guess?

Location: Querétaro, Mexico

Tags: Dark History; War Tourism

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