Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas

Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) near Mexico City looks to be a dark and curious place, filled with old doll parts placed there over 50 years by Don Julián Santana, a hermit who died in 2001. Above is a short video about the place. More from Bizarre:
...The Island Of The Dolls is a shrine to a dead girl who was said to haunt (Santan), and in whose honour he collected dolls, to calm her restless spirit.

“There are many stories about why the dolls are here,” says Don Julián’s cousin, Anastasio, one of several family members who now curate the island, welcome visitors, and charge a token fee to take photos.

“Some people claim Don Julián was mad, and that he’d fish dolls out of the canal believing they were real children, and that he could nurse them back to life. But the real story is that, soon after Don Julián arrived on the island, he came to believe this place was haunted by the spirit of a poor young girl who drowned in the canal. So when he saw a doll floating past he took it and put it on a tree, both to protect himself from evil and make the dead girl happy. But one doll wasn’t enough; soon Don Julián had made the entire island into a shrine.”

For decades, Don Julián amassed a huge collection of dolls that had been rejected by their owners, either plucking them out of the canal as they bobbed past, or scavenging toys from rubbish heaps on rare excursions from his secluded home.

In later years, locals began to trade old dolls with Don Julián in return for home-grown vegetables, and before his death the hermit’s cadaverous collection covered every inch of the island – each unloved toy receiving a second lease of life as part of his surreal shrine.
"Mexico's Island of the Dolls"


  1. I’ve been there both before and after Don Julian’s death. The place just wasn’t the same without him, and many of the strange shrines/dioramas/whatever you want to call them were gone on my later visit.

    Xochimilco, where Isla De Las Muñeca

  2. [continuing, sorry]
    s is located is a wonderful in itself: a series of canals with small farms and empty lands located along its banks. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  3. The clip is from the TV show Globe Trekker, which shows here in Portland on Public Broadcasting, and is a few years old. I’ve never been there, but I appreciate a travel TV show that can take you to such places.

  4. While this is pretty darn creepy, the Clootie Well I just visited on the Black Isle of Scotland would also be a strong contender.

    Something about the modern observance of a deeply ancient (and nakedly pagan) ritual was very shiver-inducing, especially just on the dark edge of twilight.

  5. I think the creepiest part is at 1:36 where the portrait on the post and the hostess look exactly alike.

  6. Did she not notice that the portrait looked just like her?
    Too bad we didn’t have a more insightful or educated commentator. It’s not very edifying to have somebody repeat over and over. “This is such a weird place, this is the weirdest place I’ve ever seen.” Weird being probably the most overused and valueless adjective in the English language.

  7. I’m still trying to figure out whether it was creepy. Was it creepy? I mean, really creepy? Creepy! Synonym!

  8. I’ve been there – it’s at Xochimilco [maybe an hour from Mexico City]…beautiful ‘floating gardens’ – lots of mariachis in boats and zillions of flowers…and plenty of creepy dolls…

  9. I loved it when Josh Gates led an investigation on Destination Truth. You see the dolls move!!! It’s creepy!

  10. many people believe these dolls have the spirit of the dead girl in them. when josh gates led an investigation on destination truth the dolls eye opened and closed. this place is seen as holy but not holy like jesus or anything but a very spiritual place. i think don julian just saw something different like a kind of paternal instinct toward the spirit girl maybe.

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