Located 17 miles south of Mexico City, there’s an island surrounded by an extensive network of canals. It’s fairly unremarkable — aside from the fact that it’s inhabited by hundreds of mutilated dolls hanging from the trees.
Known as the “Isla de las Munecas,” or the “Island of the Dolls,” the area is without a doubt one of the most unnerving places on Earth. The backstory is appropriately tragic: a hermit named Don Julian Santana lived there in total isolation. One day, he discovered the body of a drowned girl floating in one of the canals. Not long after, he found a discarded doll floating in the same spot.
Believing the doll possessed the spirit of the little girl, Santana strung it up as a kind of memorial.
But that was only the beginning. Over time, Santana fished out even more forgotten dolls. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, he felt the need to hang them up as well. Some say he was haunted by the ghost of the drowned girl, and that these dolls were his attempt to appease her.
Eventually, almost every tree became occupied by limbless, empty-eyed dolls.
As word spread of Santana and his bizarre obsession, locals began traveling to the island. Many of them would personally deliver more twisted toys for him to enshrine.
In 2001, Santana’s nephew found him dead in a canal. Incredibly, the hermit had drowned in the exact spot where he first found the body of the young girl so many years earlier.
Since then, the Island of the Dolls has became a popular – and haunting – tourist attraction, a kind of purgatory for unwanted dolls and, possibly, even a spirit or two.