Placenames in the Ampurdan
There are some very striking place-names, such as Cantallops (the Singing of the Wolves) or Matajudaica (the Killing of the Jews; I believe that a village with a similar name in southern France was forced to change it recently). Many are thought to be deformations; for example, Ullastret (the Narrow Eye), Ultamort (Beyond Death – it is actually pretty dull!) and Ullà are now thought to have had ancient Iberian names beginning with “Ul”, meaning place, not unlike “bally” in Ireland. Bellcaire (Beautiful Rock) is thought to have been “Bes caire” or the rock dedicated to the goddess Bes, an Egyptian diety venerated by the Phoenicians, whose ships would arrive in the nearby Gulf of Roses to trade with the locals in ancient times. Other placenames simply have two meanings. La Bomba refers, not to a bomb, but, rather boringly, to a pump. And so on. Under Franco, attempts were made to “Spanishify” many placenames, leading to some bizarre results, but I simply do not believe that anyone ever tried to call Maçanet de Cabrenys Demasiado Limpio de Cabritos!
This article was written by Francis Barrett. See also Francis' excellent guide to Ireland irelandbyways.com
Information about the Ampurdan
Ampurdan main page
Information about the Costa Brava
Accommodation in the Ampurdan and the Costa Brava