GRAN VÍA AVENUE
The construction of the Gran Vía started in 1910. The creation of the street was aimed at the clearance of the Puerta del Sol urban area, the connection of the new middle class district of Argüelles with the centre, and the modernizaton of the city.
Gran Via divides the city in districts: on its northside are Malasaña -to the west- and Chueca further east. Gran Vía ends to the west in Plaza de España and to the east at the intersection with Calle de Alcalá.
Permanently crowded with shoppers and sightseers, the street is appropriately named -the great lane- with splendidly quirky Art Nouveau and Art Deco facades fronting its banks, offices and apartments, and huge posters on the cinemas.
During the 1920s, the Gran Vía became an area where inhabitants could stroll around, with many shops, insurance company offices and leisure buildings that combined cinemas, theatres or varieties.
The first section, approximately up to Callao, is characterised by monumental buildings influenced by a modernist style and based on classicism and neo-Mudejar. The Metropolis Building is one of the most representative constructions: a beautiful and unique creation with a stunning tower composed by a rotonda of Corinthian columns that supports a third level finished off by a dome crowned by an winged victory.
Just across the junction is the majestic Círculo de las Bellas Artes, a contemporary art space with a trendy and amazing roof terrace with concerts during the summer.
The Telefónica building is another prestigious construction. When it was inaugurated in 1929 it became Madrid's first skyscraper, and thanks to its 81 metres it could be contemplated from anywhere in the city. The American architecht Weeks designed an American-style building with a metallic concrete structure that was completed by Ignacio de Cárdenas Pastor, who gave the finishing touches in Madrid's typical Baroque style.
The Carrión Building is also an emblematic construction. Currently known as the Capitol, it was designed by Luis Martínez-Feduchi and Vicente Eced. This multi-purpose building was to house a large amphitheatre that would act as opera house, concert hall and varieties hall, and a commercial area topped with cafés and restaurants, offices, flats and a hotel. Built using the best materials available at the time, imitating modern American architecture, it presents different heights and a rounded bevelled edge on the corner.
Callao square holds a high concentration of movie theaters; most notably the 1920's Palacio de la Prensa - an outstanding red brick building- and the Palacio de la Música.
From Callao, two pedestrian streets lead directly to Puerta del Sol: calle Preciados, with El Corte Inglés & FNAC department stores, and calle del Carmen. At the end of Carmen you'll find the city's most popular meeting place, "el Oso y el Madroño" (the Bear & the strawberry tree), at Puerta del Sol.
The last section from Callao to Plaza España is greatly influenced by rationalism and functionalism. Buildings are reminiscent of the Chicago school, given their monumentality, and the German Bauhaus, given the importance placed in straight lines and simple shapes.
The Gran Vía ends in an open area, Plaza España, created in the 1920s to air the old city and constructed on land occupied by low houses, small gardens and billeting.
Plaza de España is one of the biggest squares in the city. The massive Plaza de España is flanked by Madrid's first skyscrapers, built in the 1950's: Torre de Madrid and Edificio España. Francisco Franco commissioned the square in the 1950's, thus its monumental, fascist feel. It was designed by José Otamendi Machimbarrena, coauthor of the nearby Edificio España.
At the time of its building it was the tallest of Europe, but ten years later it was surpassed by the Tour du Midi, in Brussels. Plaza de España's large central statue pays homage to Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes, seated, is accompanied by statues of his beloved characters, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.
Madrid’s Broadway - The Gran Vía
Madrid has ranked third in the world in the number of musical shows premiering in the city. That says much about the city’s taste for shows that move the masses and make the stories of Victor Hugo and his Misérables and the songs of Lloyd Weber universal, not to mention the Disney characters given life by flesh-and-blood actors.
Famous voices that reveal their acting ability on stage, giving life to Mary Magdalene, the flower-seller Elisa Doolittle or the ex-convict Jean Valjean, whether international productions that have triumphed in other climates or domestic dramatisations that bring back the pop hits of the eighties, these shows triumph on the stages of Madrid’s Broadway - the Gran Vía.