The Island of the Dolls is located on Lake Teshuil between Xochimilco and Mexico City. It is one of the artificial islands which are called chinampas, built during the pre-Hispanic times in order to increase agricultural production. These islands stood in the shallow end of the lake and as they grew stronger and lusher, they began to be called "floating gardens." Later, due to the gradual narrowing of the lake, they were abandoned and left to abandonment.
Isla de las Muñecas is one of the only remaining islands which still attracts onlookers, mostly because of the numerous, eerie hanging dolls which adorn the branches of this wild forest.
The history of these dolls is the result of a tragedy that unfolded in the 1950s, when a mysterious man named Julian Santana Barrera decided to inhabit the island in complete solitude to grow fruit and vegetables. One day while he was wandering the island, Santana found the body of a drowned child in the channel and was so troubled by the discovery that he decided to hang the doll that the deceased child held in her arms, up in a tree.
This symbolic gesture was meant to ward off evil forces to the island and help the little girl find peace. Over time, more and more haunted by the memory of the tragedy, he began collecting any doll he could find – from the garbage or washed up from the channel.
Any type of doll suited him - deformed-looking dolls, mutilated or disfigured. Day after day, he continued to spread the dolls throughout the island branches using strings of luck, not realizing that he had created a macabre sanctuary that he nursed until the day of his death.
Julian Santana was found dead in the lagoon, he drowned in the same spot where the girl died more than 80 years earlier.
Despite its unsettling appearance, the Isla de las Muñecas has become a real tourist attraction, with curious tourists coming to see the results of the tragic story. Some local legends say that the dolls come to life at night. Even visitors claim they have seen the dolls change position or even heard them whispering distressing phrases in the night.
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