The tiny village of Castrillo Matajudíos in northern Spain is not very different from any number of other small Spanish villages, save for its name which translates roughly to “Little Hill Fort of the Jew Killers,” a monicker the locals are surprisingly hesitant to change.
Surprisingly the village does not seem to get its name from any sort of violence against Jewish people, but rather from a group of Jews who renounced their beliefs to an extreme degree in order to fit in with the prevailing Christian majority. Supposedly the village was once a prosperous Jewish community which had been run out of their previous home, only to establish a successful trading outpost. However when the Spanish Inquisition rolled across the country and citizens of Jewish faith were forced out of the country altogether, the population of what would come to be called Castrillo Matajudíos simply pretended not to be Jewish. As the nationwide persecution of their faith continued, the village changed their name to reference “jew-killers” in order to seem so anti-Semitic as to be above suspicion or prejudice.
Likely meant to simply be a temporary measure, the name stuck and still describes the town today. However recently the town mayor has begun a campaign to rename the town so that it is no longer so hateful towards Jewish people. Surprisingly the locals do not seem to agree with the mayor’s plot, reasoning that the name has been fine for hundreds of years with no problems so there is no reason to change it. Despite the end of the inquisition and hundreds of years of progressive tolerance, it seems that the Little Hill Fort of the Jew Killers will continue to make people cringe well into the foreseeable future.
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