Ancient Spanish Village Scraps 'Kill Jews' Name After Referendum

by The Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: The small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios
The small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios, which translates to "Camp Kill Jews," near Burgos.CESAR MANSO / AFP - Getty Images file

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MADRID — The tiny Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios — which means "Camp Kill Jews" — on Monday officially changed its name back to Castrillo Mota de Judios ("Jews' Hill Camp") following a referendum and regional government approval.

The village, with about 50 inhabitants, voted to change the name in 2014 after the mayor argued that the term was offensive and that the village should honor its Jewish origins.

RELATED: How Spain Ended Up With a Town Called 'Kill Jews'

Documents show the villages' original name was "Jews' Hill Camp" and that the "Kill Jews" name dates from 1627, after a 1492 Spanish edict ordering Jews to become Catholics or flee the country. Those who remained faced the Spanish inquisition, with many burned at the stake.

Image: The small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios
The small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios, which translates to "Camp Kill Jews," near Burgos.CESAR MANSO / AFP - Getty Images file

The name change was approved by the regional government of Castilla y Leon and published in the region's official gazette.

Although Jews were killed in the area, researchers believe the village got its recent name from Jewish residents who converted to Catholicism and wanted to reinforce their repudiation of Judaism to convince Spanish authorities of their loyalty.

Others suspect the change may have come from a slip of the pen.

Although no Jews live in the village today, many residents have ancient Jewish roots and the town's official shield includes the Star of David.

Image: A car passes by the road sign at the entrance of the small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios
A car passes by the road sign at the entrance of the small Spanish town of Castrillo Matajudios, which means "Kill Jews" in English, on April 21, 2014.The 56 residents of the town, which lies near the northern city of Burgos, will vote May 25 on whether to change the name and instead celebrate the location's Jewish heritage, Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez said.CESAR MANSO / AFP - Getty Images

Spain's lower house of parliament this month approved a law setting a citizenship path for the descendants of Jews who were forced to flee the country centuries ago.

Spain also has an ancient southeastern town called Valle de Matamoros, which translate as "Kill Muslims Valley." The town has said it has no plans to change its name. Matamoros is also a surname in Spain.

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