Terrible Decorating: The Island of the Dolls

I’ve always hated dolls. Without question, the dolls I owned as a child were some of the most terrifying toys I had. From the walking doll with eyes that opened and closed to the Raggedy Ann whose eyes were just stitched, black holes, I was fairly certain that they came alive at night with the intention of doing me grievous bodily harm. Just behind the eyes of every Cabbage Patch doll I ever owned was a murderous inclination. It just never made sense to me that someone would enjoy dolls, play with dolls, collect them en mass, and display them where they slept. They’re clearly out to get you. Why would anyone want to be surrounded by them?

Hanging Dolls-Island of the Dolls

Just south of Mexico City lies Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), a place where hundreds of dolls are nailed to/hung from the trees and soulless eyes follow you wherever you go. The island has become a nightmarish destination for tourists, but this was not the intention of the original caretaker.

Don Julian Santana Barrera took care of the island, having abandoned his wife and child in 1950 to live a reclusive life on Teshuilo Lake in the Xochimilco canals. As the story goes, Barrera was wandering the island and came across a young girl who was drowning. He tried to save her life, but was unable to do so. Several days later, he came upon a doll floating in the water and retrieved it. Believing this doll contained the soul of the young girl, and swamped with grief over his inability to rescue her, he hung the doll from a nearby tree. For the next 50 years, Barrera would dedicate his life to retrieving hundreds of dolls, despite their condition, to appease her spirit (Barrera believed she was haunting him) and transformed the island into a shrine for the young girl he couldn’t save. El senor Julian Santana BarreraThose close to Barrera said that he appeared to have been driven by some unseen force. Some discount the story as just that, believing that Berrera made it all up, but despite this fact, the island trees continue to accumulate new dolls, even long after Barrera’s passing. Some are left by tourists, but the collection seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Visitors to the island have claimed they’ve heard the dolls whispering to one another and they say that their eyes follow you wherever you go. Local legends state that the dolls move their heads and arms and even turn their heads. That’s not creepy at all, right?


Have you ever visited the island? Do you think the story about the young girl is fact or the fictitious rambling of a lonely man? Let us know in the comments!

Sweet dreams!


Your Fellow Haunt Head,


Episode 2 of Haunt Heads Podcast is now available HERE. You can also find Episode 1 in case you missed it. =)

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