The Hanging Dolls Of Mexico’s Dead Girl Island
DOLLS die in Xochimilco, Mexico.
They’re in the trees and on the ground, bunched together on wooden fence posts and hanging from clotheslines like laundry left to dry. Their dead eyes stare at you from half empty sockets, their dirty hair hangs like cobwebs. Their skin is scabbed and peeling away, and their plump limbs are scattered everywhere—arms and legs strewn about haphazardly, decapitated heads impaled on stakes.
This is not a nightmare. It’s La Isla de las Muñecas, a real place located in a southern borough of Mexico City, on a man-made island, which for decades has been home to hundreds of dilapidated dolls.
The island was once the property of Don Julián Santana, a local farmer. Legend has it that in 1950, he saw a little girl drown in the canal and her spirit began haunting the place.
Others say Santana only imagined the dead girl. He left his wife and family to live alone. Maybe he had issues?
Atlas Oscura adds to the legend by claiming that in 2001 Santana drowned in the same area where he thought the girl had perished. Another legend has it that Santana began collecting the dolls when he saw one gloat by, reasoning that it had belonged the the dead child.
Terrified, Don Julián started collecting dolls to protect himself from her ghost. He gathered them from trash heaps and hung them around the island like creepy Christmas ornaments. Over half a century, he collected more than 1,500 of these little horrors. The oldest is still there, hanging in a shed by the entrance. From afar, it looks like the decaying corpse of a child.
The island is now curated by Santana’s cousin Anastasio, who lives on the island. He seduces the tourists: “The spirit of the little girl. is still here. It’s important not to remove the dolls… They will move their heads and whisper to each other. It’s very spooky, but I have gotten used to it.”
Visit the island here.