Many of us must have heard or read about a place in Mexico known over as the ‘Island of the Dolls’. Yes, it’s been talked about a lot and have written so much about it. It is listed as one of the most mysterious and haunted places in the world. No wonder, hundreds of photographers and adventurers travel to the haunted island every year, but said it was never meant to be a tourist attraction. Today, we dig a little deeper to know what’s all about this island to make you understand or come to know more about this one of the most mysterious places in the world. Take a read.
The mysterious story of the place is all about dolls said to be put there by a reclusive Mexican man who believed they would appease the troubled ghost of a small girl who died there over 50 years ago – and still haunts the woods today.
Julian Santana Barrera, a reclusive Mexican artist, arrived in the woods of Xochimilco, Mexico City, shortly after a girl had died in a nearby canal.
He had retreated to the area, known locally as the chinampas, when his girlfriend left him for another man.
According to the official website of Isla de las Munecas, Barrera found the girl’s corpse floating in a nearby canal and blamed himself for her death.
Barrera also discovered a doll floating in the canal where she died and hung it from a tree as a mark of respect to the deceased girl.
His descent into madness began with this seemingly innocent act.
He claimed the first doll he hung up became possessed by the spirit of the deceased young girl, who began to torment him.
He claimed that though his home in the woods was far away from civilization he still heard whispers, footsteps and the chilling sound of a woman wailing in the darkness.
He became convinced that the little girl’s ghost had possessed the doll and began to hang up more and more to appease her spirit.
After doing so for five decades, Barrera’s nephew found him dead in 2001 in the same canal where the small girl had drowned.
There are many local legends as to why he placed the terrifying dolls all over the woods.
But his family say he was simply convinced that he thought they were haunted by the girl he found dead in the canal.
Locals described the site as ‘charmed’ but travelers have claimed they still hear the dolls whispering to them.
Since Barrera’s death in 2001, the area has become a tourist hot spot where visitors hang up their own dolls.
Barrera’s relatives now run the area where he lived and collected hundreds of mutilated dolls as a tourist attraction.
The dolls Barrera hung from the trees have been decaying in the woods for 14 years, many have been infested by insects.
Insects have since infiltrated the hut where Barrero lived and the hundreds of terrifying-looking toys he hung there.
Tourists have added their own personal touches to the terrifying dolls Barrera left behind, and even leave donations to his family.
Cindy Vasko, a photographer who visited the nightmarish island earlier this year, had described it as the ‘creepiest place she has ever visited’.
She said that it takes two-hour on a trajinera – a colorful, wooden gondola – to reach the chinampas where Barrera once lived.
Visitors leave coins and trinkets at several of the doll shrines found inside some of the Island’s loosely-constructed buildings.’
A strange looking jar inside one of the shrines appears to contain old mushrooms, soaked in a liquid.
After Barrera’s death in 2011, the area became a popular tourist attraction where visitors bring more dolls – which now number in the thousands.
For decades, many dolls were exposed to the elements and are certainly weathered and decayed.
Many dolls are sheathed in thick spider webs, some are missing limbs, and some do not even possess bodies, with only doll-heads hanging from rusty wires in the tree.
Some dolls were home to large insects crawling out of the mouths or eye sockets and some had lice embedded in their hair.
No wonder, even today, 14 years after Barrera’s own mysterious death in those woods, visitors say they hear whispers in the night and feel the dolls’ eyes following them through the trees. However, reports suggest the dead girl may never have even existed, but she was a tale made up by Barrera after years of isolation in the woods. While those close to him suggested he was driven by some unseen force that completely changed him.