Castrillo Mota de Judíos – Castrillo Mota de Judíos, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Castrillo Mota de Judíos

Castrillo Mota de Judíos, Spain

The tiny Spanish village that long refused to change its outrageously anti-Semitic name. 

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The tiny village of Castrillo Mota de Judíos in northern Spain is not very different from any number of other small Spanish villages. That is, except for its former name, Castrillo Matajudíos, which translates roughly to “Little Hill Fort of the Jew Killers,” a monicker the locals were surprisingly hesitant to change.

The village did not seem to get its former 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 that 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. However recently the town mayor began a campaign to rename the town so that it is no longer so hateful towards Jewish people. Surprisingly some locals did not seem to agree at first, reasoning that the name had been fine for hundreds of years with no problems so there was no reason to change it.

But when it was put to a vote, the village did vote to change the name back to Castrillo Mota de Judios (Jews’ Hill Camp). In 2015, the name change was made official after a referendum and government approval.

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