The Island of Dolls

The Island of the Dolls, or, in Spanish, Isla de las Munecas, is a small island south of Mexico City that is well-known for its terrifying nature. The legend begins in the early 1950’s when Julian Santana Barrera came to the island to live as a recluse. One morning, Julian discovered the body of a young girl floating in the canal by the island. The following day he found a doll in the same location in which he found the child. Julian pinned the doll to a tree nearby as a memorial. Strangely, more dolls began floating in the canal following this, and this convinced Julian that one doll was not enough.

Julian began to scavenge the entire canal to collect any doll or doll part he could find. He even would go through people’s trash to complete his task. Later in life, Julian would trade his crops with other people for dolls. Julian believed the Island was haunted by the girl who died in the canal and thought that hanging discarded dolls on the trees had appeased the dead girl’s spirit. He said that the dolls made noise and move on their own. This was later confirmed by his cousin, Anastasio, who quoted Julian as saying “They move their heads sometimes in the woods and whisper to each other, it’s rather creepy but I have gotten used to it.”

Julian Santana Barrera

Julian died in late 2001, but his body was found supposedly in the same location as the dead child over 50 years earlier. Many say his spirit has since joined the dead girl’s in haunting the dolls.


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