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Isle of Dolls -Mexico

Updated on January 19, 2011

The Island of Dolls or La Isla de las Munecas is situated in a network of canals on Lake Xochimilco seventeen miles south of Mexico city. It is a shrine of old mutilated decaying dolls hanging from trees giving the island a gruesome look.

Around 50 years ago, a little girl got drowned in the canals of Xochimico. The island’s only inhabitant at that time was Don Julián Santana Barrera. Barrera, although married with family, lived on the island as a recluse. He felt the spirit of the little girl haunt the island. Right after the girl’s death, he fished out an old doll bobbing out of the canal. Barrera forbode that the floating doll on the canal waters was a sign from the netherworld. From then on he hung every doll that came floating out from the canal on a tree, thus hoping to appease the spirit of the dead and seeking protection against evil. Barrera hung dolls around the island for he believed that the dolls served as cadavers or media for spirits to inhabit which kept the deceased girl company.

Don Julián transformed the entire island into a shrine of dolls, amassing a huge collection from discards or from scavenged heaps of toys. Later, as his obsession grew, he traded old dolls in return for home-grown vegetables. Before his death, Don Julian’s collection grew so much that it covered every inch of the island with a doll. On the island, each toy received a second life, it simulated the function of a cadaver in his bizarre shrine. Walking around the tiny island, the most striking feature is the decomposition of the dolls over time which has created a gallery full of strange nightmarish faces and bodies.

In 2001, Barrera was found dead by his nephew in the very same canal that the girl had drowned. Don had confessed hearing voices from the water beckoning and urging him to join them. Since his death, La Isla de las Muñecas has become one of Mexico's creepiest tourist attraction. Locals believe that each doll filled with paranormal energy, offers an invite to travelers to visit their home.

If you do accept their invite be sure to take along an offering of a doll, candles and hard candy to appease the spirit of the dead.



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    • Mayaanjali profile image

      Mayaanjali 7 years ago

      Check out you tube- you can vicariously visit the island

    • quemacoco profile image

      quemacoco 7 years ago

      Very interesting. Traveled all over Mexico, but never heard of this place. Will have to check it out next time I'm there.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Very interesting. Someplace neat to go if I ever get to Mexico City.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      Good hub Mayannjali, I've never heard of this place. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Peace!! Tom