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Island of Dead Dolls

One of the most mysterious sights in Mexico is Sochimilco Puppet Island. Ordinary people don’t live on it. Everyone who arrives here for the first time is treated to an eerie sight in the form of many hanging old, mutilated and abandoned dolls.

Where is the island of dolls in Mexico

Puppet Island in Mexico City
Doll’s Island is one of the scariest.

Mexico was once home to Aztec tribes. On the outskirts of the capital, Mexico City, in the vast network of canals Sochimilco is a group of tiny islands. Native people used these waterways 500 years ago for agriculture and travel.

Location of the island of dolls on the map

How and when the island was discovered

At the end of the twentieth century, the story of the frightening island and its strange inhabitant became known to many Mexicans. An island of dolls was accidentally discovered by a research team.

When they first approached the shore, they mistook the dangling toys for dead executed children. Journalists and photographers flooded in to take shocking pictures. That’s how the little piece of land became known to the world.

The emergence of the creepy island

The history of the legend is contradictory. It was originally an ordinary island, like many neighboring ones developed by the Aztecs. Because of the landscape and the difficulty of navigating the curved canals, very few people settled here. But they still had to keep an eye on the land. Anyone was hired for an unusual job with mandatory permanent residence.

Who Founded the Puppet Cemetery in Mexico

In the middle of the twentieth century, Julián Santana Barrera settled on the island and became its caretaker. One day he was fishing when suddenly he saw a girl’s body near the shore.

He immediately ran up to her and tried to help her. But it was too late, and he only witnessed her death. The terrible event had a profound effect on the man. Thoughts of the drowned woman did not leave him, the shock of what he saw was replaced by guilt and fear. At the site of her death Julian erected a cross.

Where are the exhibits on the island from

The first toy he found at the scene of the tragedy a few meters from the deceased. It became a kind of sign for the man. He believed that the doll was connected to the drowned woman.

Julian bought dolls in stores, exchanged them for vegetables and flowers that he grew himself, or received them as gifts, looking for them in the garbage. If I found one broken, I didn’t even try to fix it. He did all this with one purpose – to placate and appease the girl’s spirit. So in half a century he filled the island with dolls, amassing a voluminous collection.

It amazes not only by the intimidating appearance of the exhibits, but also by the variety of their states.

Toys are hung on tree branches, wicker fences, strung on ropes or tied by the neck. There are just heads on stakes and knots. The 3 built huts are also hung with toys outside and inside.

Some had matured in the sun over the years, were moldy, shriveled and dried up. Their clothes turned into filthy rags. Many specimens without arms and legs and with empty eye sockets. The worst ones turned black and looked like baby mummies. Birds nest in them, insects breed, and spiders wrap spider webs around them.

The dolls are located all over the island.

What happened to the owner of the island

The caretaker’s life was cut short unexpectedly. In 2001, he was found at the same spot on the shore where he always claimed to have found the girl’s body. He died of heart failure at the age of 86.

The island now belongs to Julián Santana’s relatives, and his nephew Anastasio Santana replaced his uncle as caretaker. He turned the sinister place into a profitable business, and the country’s authorities recognized the area as a nature reserve. Now anyone can come here and feel like a participant in a horror movie, spend the night in a cabin.

Legends of the creation of an island with abandoned dolls

The main version was created by the caretaker himself. He always assured me that he had indeed discovered the girl and had lost his peace ever since. But there is no official evidence of the incident, because. The local police never received a missing child report. There is no grave with the remains.

There is another version of what happened. Some locals asserted that the hermit ranger was an ordinary drunkard with an unstable psyche and that he just imagined everything.

But fans to test themselves still come here in droves.

Researchers of the supernatural still periodically come to the island to search for paranormal activity, because in ancient times the Aztecs practiced bloody sacred rituals at the nearby Cerro de la Estrella pyramid complex. There is an opinion that there may be a spiritual connection between ancient structures and canals.

According to historians, during the Mexican Revolution in 1911, more than a dozen bodies were dumped into the canals and there is a possibility of stumbling on the remains of bodies.

Why tourists are scared on this island

Locals warn tourists that a trip to the “cemetery of dolls” will remain in their memories for a long time. Hundreds of exhibits strike fear and longing in visitors to the island.

Many after the tours spoke of the general oppressive atmosphere and the feeling of heavy stares. Others assured us that the dolls’ faces changed expressions, stared intently, and even laughed.

Over time, there was a tradition of bringing candy, small coins, small souvenirs and interesting children’s trinkets to placate the spirits.

Scary Dolls
Not every tourist will dare to visit this mystical place.

How to get to the island of abandoned dolls

Untreated sewage is still flowing into the canals of southern Mexico City. Because of this, they become overgrown with algae, making them difficult to pass. But the only way to get to the island is by water. To do this, they rent a boat. Visiting the site is possible at any time of the year and has no clear regime.

The way to Sochimilko:

  • from the center of Mexico City to the 2nd line of the subway (Tasquena station);
  • Take the Tren Ligero streetcar and get off at the Xochimilco stop;
  • walk to the Sochimilco Pier, where you explain to the boatman that you need a trip to Doll’s Island, not the standard one.
How to get to the island of dolls
You can only get to the island by boat.

Rules for visiting a Mexican landmark

Because the island is extremely unusual and far from civilization, there are a number of rules for visitors:

  • Be over 18 years of age;
  • Do not travel to pregnant women and people with mental disorders;
  • not to take the dolls with them;
  • do not bring alcohol with you;
  • Have a sedative with you.

Over the years, other “doll” islands have appeared in Mexico, but only one is real, and that is Sochimilco.

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