The tiny Spanish village of Castrillo Matajudios—which means "Camp Kill Jews"—officially changed its name today back to the original Castrillo Mota de Judios ("Jews' Hill Camp") following a referendum and regional government approval. The village of about 50 inhabitants voted to change the name in 2014 after the mayor argued the term was offensive and that the village should honor its Jewish origins. Documents show the village's 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.
Although Jews were killed in the area, researchers believe the village got its more 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. The name change was approved by the regional government of Castilla y Leon and published in the region's official gazette. Spain also has an ancient southeastern town called Valle de Matamoros, which translates as "Kill Muslims Valley." The town has said it doesn't have plans to change its name. (Read more Spain stories.)