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Spain's 'Jew Killer' town eyes name change

Alex Dunham · 14 Apr 2014, 12:48

Published: 14 Apr 2014 12:48 GMT+02:00

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Spain has its fair share of bizarre place names, from the ominous-sounding Consuegra (With-mother-in-law) near Toledo to the rather off-putting Pozo de las Mujeres Muertas (Dead Women’s Well) in Asturias.

Now the 60 residents of Castrillo Matajudíos — a tiny village in northern Spain where two Jewish massacres took place in 1035 and 1109 — are planning to vote on whether to keep or change name of their village.

"The majority decision will be respected, even if it is only by one vote," Lorenzo Rodríguez, village mayor, told local daily El Diario de Burgos recently.

The name change suggested is Castrillo Mota de Judíos, meaning 'Castrillo Jews’ Hill', which Rodríguez says was the original village name before Spanish Inquisitors renamed it 'Jew-Killer' during times of religious persecution in Spain.

The news comes just two months after Spain announced it will grant citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 under the command of the Catholic Kings Isabella and Ferdinand.

Spain’s Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardón has since referred to the forced conversion and eventual expulsion of the country’s then 200,000-strong Jewish population as "the biggest mistake in Spanish history".

The expression 'matar judíos', to kill Jews, also refers to an alcoholic lemonade drink which is traditionally drunk during Easter celebrations in the city of León.

Saint James, patron saint of Spain, is also commonly known as Santiago Matamoros: Saint James the Moor-slayer.

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: Spain's most disgusting place names

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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