Imagine being on a deserted island, walking through the forest, and all you encounter are discarded dolls nailed to trees. Either you are dreaming or on the set of a horror movie, but the scene is all too real. In Mexico, there is just such a place and since it is Halloween, La Isla de las Munecas the ultimate scary destination to visit.
La Isla de las Munecas, or the Island of the Dolls, is in the greater Mexico City neighborhood of Xochimilco, on the shore of Lake Xochimilco. The borough is broken up by canals that have created artificial islands. The canals are a Unesco World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. While tourists flock from around the world to witness the natural beauty and traverse the waterways on boats, there is a special macabre attraction that gets plenty of attention.
Among the many artificial islands created by the canals, one plot of land stands out. The island owned by Julián Santana Barrera features a unique scene of hundreds of discarded dolls nailed to trees. The rather macabre scene has become a destination for those who want to be scared. For Halloween, La Isla de las Munecas is the perfect place for those who really want to be scared.
As the story goes, Santana Barrera, considered to be somewhat of a loner, started collecting dolls to ward off evil spirits and to please the spirit of a girl who had drowned in the canal. Whether or not there was an actual drowned girl is up for debate, according to Atlas Obscura. Some of Satana’s relatives believed he imagined the drowned girl. Nonetheless, he began his spooky collection, gathering dolls that had washed up on the lakeshore or from the garbage.
Nailing discarded dolls would be scary enough, but as a final touch, Santana would dress them up with sunglasses, headdresses and bits of clothing. Adding to the creepiness is that La Isla de las Munecas doesn’t just feature whole dolls. Some dolls are missing limbs or eyes, giving a chilling blank look. Each doll is covered in dirt and you’ll definitely encounter a disembodied doll head, or two. In the dark with just a flashlight, you’ll definitely give yourself a few scares.
Unfortunately, Julián Santana Barrera drowned in the canal in 2001, according to Web Urbanist. His family now runs La Isla de las Munecas as a tourist attraction and welcomes visitors from all over the world. If you want to have a truly ominous Halloween experience, you have to visit La Isla de las Munecas.