The Puerta de Elvira was Granada’s triumphal arch for all of the city’s invaders: the Catholic Monarchs paraded solemnly through it when they conquered the city on January 2, 1492, and three centuries later they were followed by the Napoleonic army. The gate was originally a massive fortress in its own right,with the characteristic monumental outer gate and smaller (easier to close) inner gate, followed by an L-shaped passageway, but the French officers feared that these latter elements could be an obstacle for the rapid deployment of their troops in case of an uprising, and had all of the construction torn down but the monumental façade.
The name of the gate has long puzzled the lovers of Granada. Elvira, as we know, was the Arab way of pronouncing the old name which the Romans gave to Granada: Iliberis, which in turn has its origin in the prehistoric Ilbyr. Therefore it might seem that the translation of Puerta de Elvira would be “Gate of Granada”, which is contradictory if we remember that medieval gates on high roads were always called by the name of the town they led to rather than from.