Granada was first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonised southern Spain they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada.
The name Granada is ancient and mysterious; it may mean ‘Great Castle’, for the Roman fortress that once stood on the Albaicín hill or it could come from the Moorish word karnattah, possibly meaning ‘hill of strangers’. Another theory is that the name is derived from the Spanish word for pomegranate (in Spanish granada), a locally abundant fruit that is found in many gardens throughout the city and that appears on the coat of arms.
Granada is one of the few cities in Spain that still serves tapas (appetisers or snacks) ‘on the house’ when with beer or wine. The name ‘tapas’ comes from the word ‘tapar’, meaning to cover.
The origin of tapas is unknown, although one popular theory is that when the 13th century King Alfonso fell ill he was prescribed small bites of food with wine to aid his recovery. After discovering the aid of snacking he is said to have decreed a law that all bars begin to serve food with alcohol. Another theory is that, in 16th century Castilla La Mancha, landlords liked to give out free nibbles of mature cheese to ‘cover’ the taste of bad wine.