Residents in a tiny Spanish village have voted to ditch its unfortunate, centuries-old name: Castrillo Matajudios, or Castrillo Kill Jews. 

A vote on Sunday went 29-19 in favour of scrapping the northern Spanish town's name, in existence since at least 1623, said the mayor, Lorenzo Rodriguez.

You always have to explain because people say, 'You kill Jews'

Lorenzo Rodriguez, town mayor

Residents decided instead to take on a less offensive, older name for the town, Mota de Judios, or Hill of the Jews, he told the AFP news agency.

The town hall will review the vote on June 3 before launching the paperwork for a new name, a process that could take from six months to a year, he said.

"When the change is approved I think it will be a turning point," said the mayor, who led the movement to change names and had threatened to resign if residents disagreed.

The decision should bring an end to the embarrassment of locals, who frequently found themselves trapped into giving awkward explanations to  outraged outsiders.

"When you travel elsewhere, you always have to explain, because people say, 'You kill Jews in Castrillo'," Rodriguez told AFP.

"It makes no sense because we are descended from a Jewish community. We have a star of David on our coat of arms."

He said the town, near the city of Burgos, was founded in 1035 as a haven for a persecuted Jewish community, which settled on a hill, or Mota, in the area.

A Jewish community remained until 1492 when they were mostly expelled by the Spanish Inquisition, a brutal religious tribunal.

Angel Palomino, an archaeologist, said it was thought those who converted to Roman Catholicism decided to change the town's name to prove the purity of their faith.

Source: AFP