There is something riveting about places with a haunted past. Several destinations worldwide that have a dark history continue to attract tourists who are drawn towards mystery and obscurity. Something about these places has attracted people no matter how frightening the past events at Rajasthan’s Bhangarh Fort or New Delhi’s Agrasen ki Baoli are for decades now.
One such tourist destination in Mexico is La Isla de las Muñecas -Island of the Dead Dolls. Strung up in trees around the island are hundreds of old decaying creepy dolls – a bloodcurdling sight that could keep you up for nights. Every corner you lay your eyes on has petrifying faces looking at you – some without eyes, some with slit lips, and some with other body parts missing.
The very image of the island is terrifying, even before you come to its murky history.
How was the Island of the Dead Dolls formed?
Don Julian Santana Barrera, a native of Xochimilco, a borough of Mexico City, left his family in the mid-20th century to isolate himself on an island on Teshuilo Lake. From what we know, Don Julian was possibly not of sound mind, which led to his decision to sequester himself on the island.
It wasn’twasn’t long after he had relocated that he made a bone-chilling discovery — the body of a young girl who had drowned in the lake. Floating behind the girl in the lake came a doll, which changed the island and its history for the decades to come.
In an attempt to appease the dead girl’s spirit, Don Julian took the doll and hung it from a tree. However, that one doll wasn’t enough for the man. Over the next 50 years, Don Julian would search for dolls in the trash, in the canals and in every corner he could find – only to bring them back and hang them from the several trees on the island. While he would hang some of them whole, the others he would hang headless or torso-less — a sight so terrifying that it still gives tourists the creeps.
These actions are generally not of someone who has a good grasp of reality; many doubts surround this legend. Many, including Don Julian’sJulian’s family members, believe that he never actually found the body of a girl. The reality of the incident is unknown, and whether Don Julian imagined the incident or simply made it up in his mind is not clear.
While the true incidents may never be clear to us, what is clear is that Don Julian dedicated the rest of his life to this girl and the island.
Coming to the creepiest part of the story, Don Julian was found dead in 2001, and his body was discovered in the canal — exactly where he had claimed to have seen the little dead girl.
Soon after, tourists began visiting the island to pay their tributes. To this day, people hang up dolls on the island’s many trees in the memory of Don Julian and the dead girl (whether she was real or not).
In case you have a lion heart, you may visit the island too — with a couple of dolls stuffed in your bag!