9 delightfully eerie photos from inside a 187-year-old doll hospital.

On the corner of a bustling city square in Lisbon, Portugal, stands an old hospital.

Like most of the buildings on the square, it's quite old — part of Lisbon's Praça da Figuera ("Square of the Fig Tree"), established in the 18th century. Yet hospital still admits new patients, checking their ailments, and, occasionally, wrapping them in bubble wrap.

Yes, bubble wrap. That's because this isn't a hospital for humans. The sign the sign above the door says it all: "Hospital de Bonecas" — The Doll Hospital.


Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

Founded in 1830, this hospital staff spends its days repairing and restoring dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys. Some of those healed may "walk" away with just a couple of stitches or a bit of paint, but other patients require much more serious care.

This doll hospital has no doubt seen a lot of toys come through the door during its 187-year tenure. (There was apparently a somewhat famous Bride of Chucky doll a few years back.) But many of its patients are more than just toys to the families who love them: One may have been the baby Jesus from a family's heirloom nativity scene, or a gift from a lost grandparent, or the last thing a refugee family was able to save from a previous life.

Though the Hospital de Bonecas may be focused on repairing porcelain and plastic, it's essentially treating the toys' human owners for something known as "saudade" — a Portuguese word for the longing, nostalgic feeling that remains after a loved one is gone.

“We work with feelings more than strictly with the objects,” Manuela Cutileiro, who runs the hospital, told Reuters. “It has always been our job to, ultimately, cure the saudades.”

Check out some pictures of the Hospital de Bonecas healing feelings below:

Cutileiro dresses up a doll that's been repaired. Like the dolls, the shop has been handed down in her family for five generations.

Besides being the owner, Cutileiro is also a doll surgeon and former primary school teacher.  Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

The dolls arrive in all manner of conditions. This one is badly damaged.

Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

Donated, owner-less toys may serve as erzatz organ donors.

Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

A donor might contribute an arm to an incoming patient.

Or maybe even a head.

Even the oddest expressions can find their match. Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

Here, a variety of Barbies wait on a net while waiting to be prepared. Shot from below, the dolls seem to form a kind of strange circus act.

Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

A woman repairs a doll at the hospital.

Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

Once repaired, the dolls are ready to be played with, posed, and taken home again.

Photo from Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images.

Prices range from about $5 for minor repairs to several hundred dollars for major antique repairs — but if it means being able to reconnect once again with a lost loved one, that's well worth the price.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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