La Isla de la Muñecas: Island of the Dolls

In the heart of the Xochimico’s canals, south of Mexico City, Mexico, lies one of the most bizarre locations you’re likely to come upon.  It is La Isla de la Muñecas, which translates to “The Island of the Dolls”.

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Starting in the 1950’s, a man named Julián Santana Barrera began collecting dolls and placing them throughout this island.  It is said that the collection began when he witnessed the drowning death of a little girl.  He began seeing her ghost around the island, and the dolls were meant to be an offering or gift to the little lost spirit.  Some say he was deeply troubled by the ghost, and the hope was that the dolls would keep her entertained.  His collection became an obsession, and he became somewhat of a hermit on the island.  He would collect dolls and hang them from trees, tie them to buildings… anywhere he could place them.

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Over time, locals came to believe that the energy of the deceased girl possessed the dolls themselves, and that when passing by the island, especially at night, whispers could be heard urging people to come ashore.  The dolls have also been reported to move on their own, making the island a place filled with fascination and dread.

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In 2001, Julián Santana Barrera passed away. In a mysterious twist, he was found drowned in the same canal where he’d discovered the body of the little girl so many years ago.  It is claimed that this once haunted caretaker now haunts the island himself, along with his friends… the dolls.

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Prior to his passing, Julián Santana Barrera was filmed by a TV crew on his island.  Watch the video here.

Clearly the woman interviewing Barrera is quite uneasy on the Island of the Dolls.  I can’t blame her.  It is positively eerie just looking at these images.  I can’t decide if I want desperately to go there, or if I want to pretend such a place doesn’t exist.  I think many people have a visceral reaction to the concept of a doll that is haunted or comes to life.  Perhaps it’s their faces and painted on expressions… they are inanimate and empty, and yet it triggers something primal in me that says not to trust them.  I know I’m not alone here people.  Don’t even get me started on clowns.