Mexico has a rich treasure trove of legends and stories that are an essential part of its history and identity. In every corner of the country, there exists a vast repertoire of legends featuring specters, mysterious alleys, or historical characters. These stories are kept alive in the oral tradition of Mexicans and pique the curiosity of visitors.
Below, I present 15 diverse Mexican legends for you to enjoy and delve into a part of Mexican folklore.
- The Alley of the Kiss
In the city of Guanajuato, there is a mysterious alley that attracts visitors from all over.
A legend has been passed down through generations about this place, making it an iconic spot. Couples often visit to take photos and kiss on the third step of the alley.
According to tradition, lovers aim to secure their happiness for a few more years. Thanks to the legend, this place has become a symbol of love.
The legend tells of Carmen, a beautiful and affectionate young woman living with her stern father. Carlos was a handsome and humble young man dedicated to his work.
One day, Carmen and Carlos met by chance, and an unbreakable bond formed between them. The young man would stand under Carmen’s balcony, and she would always respond with a smile. Weeks passed before they initiated a conversation.
As time went on, the young couple planned a future together. However, Carmen’s father discovered their meetings and threatened to send her to a convent. Despite this, Carmen and Carlos decided to continue their relationship in secret.
Carlos rented a room opposite Carmen’s house, where they could talk from balcony to balcony. One day, Carmen’s father caught them kissing from the balcony and, filled with rage, stabbed his daughter, taking her life. Since then, this place has been known as the Alley of the Kiss.
- La Llorona
This legend, of pre-Hispanic origin, is one of the most well-known in Mexico. Though its exact origin and timing are unknown, La Llorona has become a significant specter in the cultural identity of Hispanic America.
La Llorona has different versions and has been passed down through generations, often with the intention of encouraging children to obey their parents.
The legend goes that many years ago, a woman dressed in white appeared in Xochimilco, wandering the city streets while lamenting, “Ay, mis hijos!” (Oh, my children!)
The city residents said she was a poor woman who had suffered because a man had abandoned her. In despair, she decided to drown her children in a river and, repentant, tried to take her own life. She became known as La Llorona.
It is said that to this day, the specter still appears at night, roaming the city in her white attire. Her heartbreaking wail can still be heard.
- Sac Nicté
This ancient Mayan legend with a romantic theme originates from the legendary alliance of the Mayan city-states of Uxmal, Chichén Itzá, and Mayapán.
The Mexican poet and historian Antonio Mediz Bolio popularized this legend in his book “La Tierra del Faisán y del Venado” (1922) under the name “Chichén-Itzá y la princesa Sac-Nicté.”
According to the legend, Sac-Nicté was an ancient princess when Mayapán, Uxmal, and Chichén Itzá coexisted as major cities in Mayan culture. It was a time when their kings had made a peace pact, and there were no armies. When Canek turned twenty-one, he became the king of Chichén Itzá and saw Princess Sac-Nicté for the first time, while she was only fifteen. From that moment, they knew their lives were destined to be together forever. However, Sac-Nicté had been promised by her father, the king of Mayapán, to marry Ulil, an heir of the Uxmal kingdom.
With only 37 days left until the wedding, a messenger from Mayapán summoned Canek, inviting him to the wedding. He replied that he wouldn’t miss it. That night, an old dwarf visited Canek and whispered, “The white flower awaits you among the green leaves. Will you let someone else pluck it?” The dwarf then disappeared.
In Uxmal, everything was prepared for the wedding, and the entire city was decorated for the grand occasion. Just as Sac-Nicté was about to marry, Canek appeared with his warriors and took the princess in front of everyone, leaving Prince Ulil standing alone.
This event ended the peace, and Uxmal and Mayapán joined forces against Chichén Itzá. Before the war erupted, the inhabitants of Chichén Itzá left one night in the moonlight to save their city. When Uxmal and Mayapán’s enemies arrived, they found Chichén Itzá empty and decided to set it on fire. Since then, the city has been abandoned.
- The Veiled Lady
The Veiled Lady is an urban legend from the early 19th century, well-known in the city of Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco.
It is said that, almost at midnight, some people witnessed a female specter emerging from the Cathedral and heading north of the city. The woman was dressed in black and, upon reaching the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, would cross the street and then disappear.
That night, the veiled lady claimed several lives. Those who pursued her became her victims when they heard her eerie cry.
- La China Hilaria
This legend originates in Aguascalientes, in the Encino neighborhood. It tells a story of obsession that has become a commonly used expression in Mexican colloquial language.
According to the legend, in the street of Joy, many years ago lived Hilaria Macías, known as China Hilaria because of her very curly and beautiful hair.
Over time, an unsavory man, known as El Chamuco, fell in love with Hilaria. She refused to reciprocate as she felt a certain aversion, not only to his appearance but also to his personality. Despite this, Chamuco persisted, first modestly, and later with coarse words.
Hilaria began to feel afraid and decided to visit the priest to ask him to speak with Chamuco. The priest told the man to ask Hilaria for one of her curls, saying, “If you can straighten it in about 15 days, she will reciprocate.” Chamuco followed the priest’s advice and, after two weeks of trying to straighten the curl, he resorted to black magic. He visited a sorcerer who invoked the Devil. The Devil asked for his soul as a reward, and Chamuco accepted. After days of work, he couldn’t accomplish anything.
Chamuco complained to the devil about his lack of seriousness, and the devil, angered, left. Since then, Chamuco went crazy, wandering the streets of Encino tormented. Whenever someone asked him how he was, he would only respond, “De la China Hilaria” (About China Hilaria).
- Legend of the Cempasúchil Flower
On the Day of the Dead, the cempasúchil flower becomes an essential component. This flower, whose name comes from Nahuatl “cempoalxochitl” meaning “flower of twenty petals,” has become a symbol of the Mexican tradition during this holiday.
There’s a legend that explains why the cempasúchil is used to guide the souls of the deceased back to the world of the living.
The legend tells the story of Xóchitl and Huitzilin, a couple from two rival tribes. Despite their parents’ disapproval, they continued to love each other. One day, during a battle between the tribes, Huitzilin was fatally wounded. Xóchitl, desperate to see her beloved again, asked the gods for help. They turned her into a cempasúchil flower so that she could guide the spirits of the deceased to the world of the living.
- El Charro Negro
This legend involves a character known as the Black Charro, who appears on deserted roads. Dressed in an elegant charro outfit and a large hat that hides his face, he rides a magnificent black horse. The Black Charro whistles melodies that attract the attention of passersby. When someone approaches, he takes them for a ride on his horse, never to be seen again.
- The Ghostly Carriage of Querétaro
This legend hails from the city of Querétaro. Witnesses claim to have seen a ghostly carriage pulled by black horses racing through the streets of the city at night. This carriage vanishes into thin air when anyone tries to approach it.
- El Chupacabra
El Chupacabra is a cryptozoological creature in the form of a vampire that supposedly attacks livestock, particularly goats (hence its name, which translates to “goat-sucker”). Sightings and reports of livestock deaths attributed to El Chupacabra have been reported across Latin America, especially in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
- The Legend of the Weeping Woman of Mexico City
Similar to La Llorona, this legend involves a woman in white who weeps and lures people into danger, often claiming the lives of those who follow her.
These legends and stories form a rich tapestry of Mexican folklore, encompassing diverse themes from love and tragedy to supernatural beings. They continue to captivate both locals and visitors, adding layers of mystique to Mexico’s cultural heritage.