Only a two-hour canal boat ride from Mexico City there lies a terrifying clearing deep in the woods, known as the Island of the Dolls.
The haunted island is home to thousands of mutilated dolls, placed there by a reclusive local man, Julian Santana Barrera. He started leaving them throughout the woods 50 years go, to appease the spirit of a young girl he found dead in the canal.
He blamed himself for not being able to save the girl’s life. When he found a doll floating in the same canal he presumed it had belonged to her and hung it up in a tree as a mark of respect.
This simple act triggered his descent into madness.
Afterwards he started to hear whispers, footsteps and tormented screams from a young woman, even though he was miles away from civilisation. So Barrera began to hang more and more dolls in the trees out of fear, hoping to appease the anguished spirit.
He lived by himself in the woods for the rest of his life, until he was mysteriously found dead in the same canal as the girl in 2001.
Now hundreds of tourists make the trip to the haunted island, leaving dolls of their own. Visitors often claim they can hear the dolls whispering to them, and feel their eyes following them around.
After a recent trip, photographer Cindy Vasko described it as the ‘creepiest place she has ever visited’.
All images Ⓒ Cindy Vasko:
Dolls are terrifying enough on their own. A haunted island containing thousands of mutilated ones, no thanks.