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What does 'quintana' mean?

Bert45

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A website says: Praza da Quintana. This plaza takes its name from the quintana or burial ground that used to occupy this space until 1780, when the city's public cemetery was moved outside the old town [https://www.trevorhuxham.com/2015/01/guided-tour-cathedral-santiago-de-compostela.html]
Another tells me that the square is divided into two parts: Quintana dos Mortos (the lower part) and Quintana dos Vivos (higher part). A Spanish dictionary tells me that 'quinta' means a country house or a fit of coughing (!). Google Translate cannot help (it tells me that 'quintana' is an English word!). https://www.spanishdict.com/translate/quintana tells me that it means a villa or country house. If it means 'burial ground', then 'Quintana dos Mortos' makes sense, even if it's a bit tautological, but 'Quintana dos Vivos makes no sense at all. But Square of the Country House doesn't make much sense either. I checked Galician and Portuguese with Google Translate and they couldn't translate the word. Do you have an authoritative derivation of the Praza da Quintana? Thanks.
 
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Have you seen this?
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Bert45

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Have you seen this?

Yes, amazingly just a moment ago. So Praza da Quintana means 'Square of the Square'? I am assuming that 'praça' has the same meaning as praza and plaza. I would not wish to doubt the tourist office of Santiago, but I would like to see some etymology. How do they get from 'quinta' (country house) to 'quintana' (open square)?
 

Bert45

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interestingly, web dictionaries of gallego do not have the explanation for 'quintana'. there are, however, several explanations for 'quinta', and here (incl. a bottle of beer!).
Interestingly, puzzlingly and frustratingly!
I've not found the meaning of a bottle of beer, but I suspect it means a 200ml bottle of beer, i.e. a fifth of a litre.
 
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caminka

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perhaps 'quintana' is just a diminuative of 'quinta'? although, considering the size of the square, this is a bit ridiculous. so maybe more like a 'pet' name? in the sense - we are going to our favourite square, our quintana.
 

SioCamino

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The definitions for quintana according to RAE are:

1. f. Una de las puertas, vías o plazas de los campamentos romanos, en las que se vendían víveres.
2. f. Ast. Caserío en el campo o en una aldea.
3. f. Ast. Espacio situado delante de una casa o de varias.
4. f. desus. plaza.

(from deepl translator

1. f. One of the gates, roads or squares of the Roman camps, where foodstuffs were sold.
2. f. (Asturias) . A hamlet in the countryside or in a village.
3. f. (Asturias). A space in front of a house or several houses.
4. f. (not in use) . square)

Hope this might be of help!
 
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Bert45

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I'm impressed! How did you come to think of that? It's quite an attractive possibility - the square where jousting took place --
Thank you for the praise. ;-)
Obviously "Quintana" has a latin root (well, gallego is a roman language). And "Quintana" was the denomination of the fifth lane in a roman field camp (castro). In this row or lane usually the training for lance attacks took place. From there to medivial knight tournements is not that far.
 

Bert45

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The definitions for quintana according to RAE are:

1. f. Una de las puertas, vías o plazas de los campamentos romanos, en las que se vendían víveres.
2. f. Ast. Caserío en el campo o en una aldea.
3. f. Ast. Espacio situado delante de una casa o de varias.
4. f. desus. plaza.

(from deepl translator

1. f. One of the gates, roads or squares of the Roman camps, where foodstuffs were sold.
2. f. (Asturias) . A hamlet in the countryside or in a village.
3. f. (Asturias). A space in front of a house or several houses.
4. f. (not in use) . square)

Hope this might be of help!
At least the RAE believes that the word exists! I was struck by the translation of 'Caserío en el campo o en una aldea.' as 'A hamlet in the countryside or in a village', which I realise is a computer translation, but how can a hamlet be in a village? I mean, a hamlet is a village, sort of. So I looked 'caserio' up in a proper printed-on-paper dictionary. It means 'group of houses, hamlet, settlement; country house, farm-house'. Which helps in translating 'Caserío en el campo o en una aldea.' But how can a word mean one house or a group of houses? It looks like 'Square of the square' is favourite. 'Burial ground' seems unlikely.
 

JabbaPapa

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The word does also mean a period of five days, or a set of five, and so on. By extension weekdays ?? (pure guess)
 

Bert45

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The word does also mean a period of five days, or a set of five, and so on. By extension weekdays ?? (pure guess)
Well, as they say, Your guess is as good as mine.
 
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But how can a word mean one house or a group of houses?
"Manor" can mean a neighborhood (in informal speech) or a stately home.

It looks like 'Square of the square' is favourite. '
Perhaps it strikes you as odd because you're repeating the same English word (which is denuded of the context of the original word), which whereas "quintana" may have carried the sense of a plaza where produce was sold. That might give it a significance closer to "marketplace" than merely "square." I can conceive of a marketplace becoming known as "the square of the marketplace" or "the marketplace square."

Pedants may say that "marketplace square" is redundant / tautologous, since what else would a marketplace be if not a square ... but sure enough, by searching on Google I turned up some apartments for sale in Marketplace Square, Atlanta, GA:
https://www.apartments.com/marketplace-square-atlanta-ga/90f5qz5/


To translate is to betray, as the saying goes ("Traduttore Traditore"). It can be tricky to convey the flavor of a historic or culturally loaded word in a different language. In this case we're dealing with a proper noun, denuded of context ...
 
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"Manor" can mean a neighborhood (in informal speech) or a stately home.
And while I'm on this riff, a visitor to said manor might refer to it as a "pile," in the sense of a large monumental building.... not to be confused with "pile" in the sense of a messy heap of things.

It's almost a contronym, but not quite:
 

Kathar1na

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Google the web for the standard layout of Roman camps and you will learn that the via quintana (or "street of the fifth," so called as it lay between the fifth and sixth companies) was an area where a public market was allowed. You will also find references to “A Quintana”, including an entry in Xacopedia, and to the square’s name in Santiago as “plaza de A Quintana”, indicating that Quintana is a place name, among other meanings. You will further find an article in La Voz de Galicia saying that a placename like Quintana and a Galician family name like Quintáns could also have been derived from the Roman first name Quintus. You will find references to the family names Quintáns and Quintana in Galicia and to houses for sale in Quintana (Pontevedra). And last but not least, locations called “Plaza Square“ in towns in the USA.

You could further reflect upon how Roman words change their meaning throughout space and time and languages. I recommend starting with the entry for “villa” in Wikipedia. Today, villa doesn’t mean what it used to mean and it doesn’t even denote the same type of house in various European languages or regions. Roman villa lead to words with meanings as diverse as village in English and ville (town, city) in French. The fate of quintana may have been similar.
 
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Kathar1na

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And there is more. Don’t be satisfied with a paltry entry of two lines and five words on some website and take it as gospel. Try this instead: In this paper we explore the long-standing hypothesis that the very abundant Quintana place-names, anomalously concentrated almost exclusively in northwestern Iberia, have their origin in the Islamic conquest of 711. Alternative etymologies are considered, and their inherent problems noted. We then address the distribution of said toponyms in both Spain and Portugal, noting a strong correlation in the latter with the coordinates provided by al-Gassani and which purportedly delimit an area differentiated in terms of the post-conquest land-partition.
 

Rebekah Scott

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Out here in Castile there are many town names that include "Quintana," "Quintanilla," etc. I asked an architectural historian about that, she said big swaths of land owned by Lords or other royalty and farmed by serfs were divided into fifths, to determine crop rotation and also to reenforce the fifth that was set aside for tithes and taxes. A fifth of the land went to build towns, a fifth to produce money for paying taxes and tithes, a fifth to grazing, and two-fifths to crops for subsistence.
 

Kathar1na

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And there is more.
And to further expand our views about quintana: A list of place names in northern Spain, grouped into names of Arab origin, of Latin-Romance origin, and unknown origin, in Anexo 3: Toponimia de introducción Mozárabe en la Gallaecia. The "quint-" place names start with Quinta and end with Quintelas. This author gives a definition that even deepl.com hilariously translates as one-fifth of the booty given to the lord of the host. There is a monstrously long footnote that goes with it. I haven't deciphered it yet. Gallaecia, btw, is not Galicia. Gallaecia includes Galicia, northern Portugal, Asturias and Leon (province).

Edited to add: I took a peek at the footnote. So this fifth is not the familiar medieval tithe which I know as a tenth but apparently something else. Not so much an income tax like tithe but more a property tax. From the footnote: Chalmeta (1994) and Oliver Asín (1974) have contributed to revisit the topic of the distribution of land by the occupator and victor of war. 'Quintus' or 'quinta parte' does not appear as a toponym in France and Italy, but it does in Gallacia and Al Ándalus. The Arabic-Islamic jums was previously applied with the specific Latin-Visigothic-Hispanic tradition without major problems. The quintu(m) practised as "the fifth part of the hereditary goods, as a left-over from Gothic law, was considered as a share of land for free disposal and used in pious works" (Álvarez Maurín, 1994, in turn from Floriano,1949). We can also associate 'Quintas' and derivatives to necropolises and low imperial villas (Quintana Redonda, Soria), that is, Quintas to villae. And of course the codifying jums or khums of the Muslim victor.

I don't remember having heard of jums. It means literally 'one fifth' and refers to the required religious obligation of any Muslims to pay one-fifth of their acquired wealth from certain sources toward specified causes.
 
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Pelegrin

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And to further expand our views about quintana: A list of place names in northern Spain, grouped into place names of Arab origin, of Latin-Romance origin, and unknown origin, in Anexo 3: Toponimia de introducción Mozárabe en la Gallaecia. The "quint-" place names start with Quinta and end with Quintelas. This author gives a definition that even deepl.com hilariously translates as one-fifth of the booty given to the lord of the host. There is a monstrously long footnote that goes with it. I haven't deciphered it yet. Gallaecia, btw, is not Galicia. Gallaecia includes Galicia, northern Portugal, Asturias and Leon (province).

Edited to add: I took a peek at the footnote. So this fifth is not the familiar medieval tithe which I know as a tenth but apparently something else. From the footnote: Chalmeta (1994) and Oliver Asín (1974) have contributed to revisit the subject of the distribution of land by the occupator and victor of war. Quintus or quintus or quinta parte does not appear as a toponym in France and Italy, but it does in Gallacia and Al Ándalus, as we have already seen. The Arabic-Islamic jums was previously applied with the specific Latin-Visigothic-Hispanic tradition without major problems. It is the quintu(m) practised as "the fifth part of the hereditary goods that, as a left-over from Gothic law, was considered as a share of land for free disposal and used in pious works" (Álvarez Maurín -1994-, in turn from Floriano -1949-). We can also associate Quintas and derivatives to necropolises and low imperial villas (Quintana Redonda, Soria), that is, Quintas to villae. And of course the codifying jums or khums of the Muslim victor.

I don't remember having heard of jums. It means literally 'one fifth' and refers to the required religious obligation of any Muslims to pay one-fifth of their acquired wealth from certain sources toward specified causes.

In relation to the meaning fifth, Quintáns I think can do with it, because Quitáns is the plural in Galician of Quintán (masculine).
Quintana (feminine), plural "quintanas" could be also a house or a space.
 

Bert45

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I certainly started something! Who'd've thought! A possible Arabic etymology! Going back to my first post, is there any truth in Trevor Huxham's assertion that a "burial ground that used to occupy this space until 1780, when the city's public cemetery was moved outside the old town"? Btw, the last time I was in the square, I overheard a guide talking about a tunnel under the square from the convent (San Paio de Antealtares) to the Cathedral. As 'proof' of this, he mentioned that there were grilles visible in the riser of a row of steps. At night, he said, the tunnel was lit and the light could be seen from outside, through the grilles. Is there any substance in what I overheard?
 
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Kathar1na

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I overheard a guide talking about a tunnel under the square from the convent (San Paio de Antealtares) to the Cathedral. As 'proof' of this, he mentioned that there were grilles visible in the riser of a row of steps. At night, he said, the tunnel was lit and the light could be seen from outside, through the grilles
Boring stories for tourists ☺️. I find the real stories more interesting, as told in Lo que la Quintana esconde. But then I like Gothic more than Baroque. Don't forget to click on El Secreto de A Quintana to see the sketches.

The Quintana cemetery is described as either the city's cemetery or a cemetery for the members of the cathedral chapter. Google for something like "cementerio de los canónigos" Quintana for some solid info. Not the only former Santiago cemetery. There was also the cemetery of the pilgrims and the Bonaval cemetery, both now landscaped areas.
 
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This is my guess. I'm taking it from the point where quintana meant something like a square. There were two, one for the dead and one for the living. I suppose the bodies were removed when the two squares became one plaza. I'm guessing that the locals would refer to the place as the plaza of the squares initially but eventually their grandchildren, not having ever seen two squares there, would start using the singular for the squares.
 

El Cascayal

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To clarify or perhaps to confuse even further la Quinta could mean a farm or a clinic, heard it as a child, La Quinta Asturiana, which was the local Clinic for expat Asturianos in La Habana. What say you?
 

Bert45

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Boring stories for tourists ☺️. I find the real stories more interesting, as told in Lo que la Quintana esconde. But then I like Gothic more than Baroque. Don't forget to click on El Secreto de A Quintana to see the sketches.

The Quintana cemetery is described as either the city's cemetery or a cemetery for the members of the cathedral chapter. Google for something like "cementerio de los canónigos" Quintana for some solid info. Not the only former Santiago cemetery. There was also the cemetery of the pilgrims and the Bonaval cemetery, both now landscaped areas.
I've read the first link and looked at the second. Both interesting.
 
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Bert45

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A Definitive Answer from santiagoturismo.com!
The word "praça" has its origins in the Greek «πλατεια» (plateia) which means square or broad street. Praça was the form of this word used in the middle ages in this area. Nowadays we write praza, but praça is still the word used in contemporary Portuguese.

Etymologically the word Quintana comes from the latin word quintāna that refers to an open space in a roman camp used as food market.

In Galego quintana (more correctly quintá) has a clear meaning: space around a church that served of cemetery. This is the case of Praza da Quintana in Santiago, an ancient burial place. The meaning is without doubt “cemetery square”. (my emphasis)
I asked the question because their Spanish version was different from their English version. [At least, that's what I thought. But I've found two versions of the Spanish. The English version is a direct translation of one of them: “Quintana” es el equivalente de “praça”, y ambas palabras designaban en la terminología medieval a los espacios abiertos de uso público. (As in Post #2.) Having read that, I asked where did "praça" come from. The other Spanish version has the following: "Decir Plaza de la Quintana es una redundancia, ya que la voz ‘quinta’ o ‘quintana’ hace referencia a un lugar público abierto. Mientras el espacio superior, al final de las escaleras, se conoce como “Quintana de Vivos”, la gran explanada que pisamos es la llamada “Quintana de Mortos”, pues fue en otro tiempo el gran cementerio de la ciudad."
So, in Spanish, they say that Plaza de la Quintana means "Square of the Square", but in English they say it means "cemetery square". I am happy with that explanation (in bold, above). It means that Trevor Huxham (Post #1) is correct. One tiny niggle, though. How do you explain "Quintana dos Vivos"?
 

Kathar1na

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One tiny niggle, though. How do you explain "Quintana dos Vivos"?
It would be a huge niggle for me. Cemetery of the Living sounds like a Stephen King novel.

And I would want to know whether there are any other cemeteries in Galicia or elsewhere in Spain or Portugal that were once called quintana and perhaps even kept that name until today. And then I would want to know in which century that area near the Cathedral in Santiago was called quintana for the first time and what function it had at that moment in time and in which century it became a public cemetery. I saw a map that was drawn around 1760 where the area was called Quintana llamada de Palacio. I would wonder what this meant to the author of this ancient map, cemetery of the palace or courtyard of the palace. He labeled another area on the map as cementerio ... so many unanswered questions, and we may have to live with them ... 😎
 
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Kathar1na

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Language, accurate as well as meaningful translation, Middle Ages, Roman history, and plenty of time on my hands - a mix that is hard to resist. Looking at old maps and trying to decipher them was fun. The area directly around the cathedral in Santiago underwent so many changes: an archbishop's palace was built, torn down and a new one erected on the other side; a large monastery with several buildings and cloisters was built, had to make way for the expansion of the cathedral building and had to erect new buildings and new cloisters a few dozens of metres or so further away; people were buried in all sorts of locations in and very close to the cathedral; passages appeared between buildings or were closed; cemeteries came and went. The area now known as Quintana wasn't static, it shrank, was built over, was cleared of buildings, expanded.

From what I understand from native speakers of Spanish and Galician, the word quintana has no specific meaning for them, it has lost its meaning, whatever the context may have been once. Plaza de (la) Quintana denotes that large square near the cathedral with the steps where you can sit in the sun. Muertos/Vivos makes for interesting stories that guides can tell to visitors who repeat them on their personal websites and in their books. Why try to find a definite translation? If quintana were to be translated as cemetery, then Quintana dos Mortos, i.e. cemetery of the dead makes no sense. As to Plaza de (la) Quintana? There are places called Courtyard Square in towns in the USA. A triple whammy: court + yard + square. 😁

Courtyard Square.jpg
an
 
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Bert45

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"then Quintana dos Mortos, i.e. cemetery of the dead makes no sense." It's more sort of Well, duh! i.e. that's obvious. It's Quintana dos Vivos that makes no sense. Perhaps that's what you intended to write. Either way, I agree with Rick of Rick and Peg, especially with his second point.
And I have to agree with Kathar1na on this: so many unanswered questions, and we may have to live with them ...
 
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Pelegrin

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As @Kathar1na. said quintana has now no meaning for us. In Galician should be quintá like hermana/irmá or mañana/ mañá, but the word quintá would still be less understood.
 

Wendy Werneth

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The Dicionario de Dicionarios, which is a kind of search engine that searches through a bunch of different Galego dictionaries, yields five entries for the word "quintana". One is the country house definition, and the other four all say that it's the part of an atrium of a church in front of the main entranceway, and that it was often used as a cemetery.

Here are the definitions given.
 

KariC

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Quinta means fifth, so this definition I think properly explains the origin of its use regarding land/property:
Inicialmente, ya en el siglo XVI el término quinta aludía a la quinta fracción de terreno que un adelantado, como representante de la corona, adjudicaba a un nuevo vecino español o mancebo de la tierra; estas "quintas" pasaron a ser huertas con alguna vivienda adjunta.
 

sfdithomas

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"Manor" can mean a neighborhood (in informal speech) or a stately home.


Perhaps it strikes you as odd because you're repeating the same English word (which is denuded of the context of the original word), which whereas "quintana" may have carried the sense of a plaza where produce was sold. That might give it a significance closer to "marketplace" than merely "square." I can conceive of a marketplace becoming known as "the square of the marketplace" or "the marketplace square."

Pedants may say that "marketplace square" is redundant / tautologous, since what else would a marketplace be if not a square ... but sure enough, by searching on Google I turned up some apartments for sale in Marketplace Square, Atlanta, GA:
https://www.apartments.com/marketplace-square-atlanta-ga/90f5qz5/


To translate is to betray, as the saying goes ("Traduttore Traditore"). It can be tricky to convey the flavor of a historic or culturally loaded word in a different language. In this case we're dealing with a proper noun, denuded of context ...
Or the square/marketplace of the living since the dead don’t shop!
 

MariaSP

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interestingly, web dictionaries of gallego do not have the explanation for 'quintana'. there are, however, several explanations for 'quinta', and here (incl. a bottle of beer!).
A bottle of beer is "un quinto", not "una quinta" and it's so called because it's roughly a fifth of a litre.

Quintana comes from Latin quintana, according to the RAE dictionary. Definitions 2 & 3 (house in the countryside and space in front of a house) are only found in Asturias, according to the dictionary.

Definition number 4 says "square", but it also points out that that's no longer in use. So, I guess the place was simply called Quintana in the past and, as the meaning of quintana was lost, plaza was added.
 
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The Dicionario de Dicionarios, which is a kind of search engine that searches through a bunch of different Galego dictionaries, yields five entries for the word "quintana". One is the country house definition, and the other four all say that it's the part of an atrium of a church in front of the main entranceway, and that it was often used as a cemetery.

Here are the definitions given.
Wendy after reading the above it seems you have answered the questions surrounding the living and the dead - church atrium for the living - cemetery for the dead 😀 I’m not sure why I found this thread so compelling! But thank you everyone for filling my morning with interesting camino trivia
 

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Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
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