Nothing is quite as spooky as the thought of haunted dolls - unless, of course, its an entire island covered with thousands of mangled and disheveled dolls hanging from trees and perched on branches. That is exactly what you will find on the Island of Dolls (Isla de las Munecas).
This ting island is located south of Mexico city, tucked between the canals of Xochimico. The island is filled with thousands of mutilated and decapitated dolls thought to have been displayed to appease the spirits. It is now dedicated to the lost soul of a young girl who lost her life there.
According to Atlas Obscura the chilling tale began some 65 years ago when a man named Don Julian Santana decided to leave his wife and child and move to the island where he lived in solitude. He reportedly came upon a young girl who met her tragic death in the murky waters of the canal. Unable to save her, Santana was overcome with grief. When he found an old doll floating in the water near where the young girl had drowned, he picked it up and hung it from a tree in honor of the spirit of the girl.
As time progressed, Santana became obsessed with collecting and displaying abandoned dolls. The eerie part is the way he displayed them. He did not clean or mend the broken dolls, but displayed them in the state they were found, which included decapitated dolls or dolls with missing limbs.
As the legend goes, Santana felt he was honoring the girl’s memory with the dolls, but eventually met his own death by drowning the in same location.
Other sources, such as Seeks Ghosts tell a more sinister tale. In this legend, three young girls drowned in the waters around the island in the 1920s – but their spirits never left. When Santana moved to the island in the 1950s the spirits of the girls plagued him day and night to bring them more dolls to play with.
Eventually, Santana grew weary and told his nephew that the spirits were never satisfied and that he could no longer resist their insistence that he join them in their water death. The nephew reportedly found Santana drowned in the canal the following day.
Still other sources, such as the Isla de las Muñecas site claims that there is no evidence that Santana ever discovered a drowned girl and that many believe he simply made it up.
Exactly why Don Julian choose to adorn the island and his living space with creepy mutilated dolls strung from trees may never be known for sure – but locals claim the eerie dolls are haunted. They say the dolls watch you wherever you go and can even be heard whispering when you walk by.