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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Gran Via, ‘Great Way’ in English, is arguably the most famous and most important street in central Madrid, Spain. Connecting the Calle de Alcalá , near the magnificent Plaza de Cibeles, with the equally as impressive Plaza de España Madrid, the Gran Via is one of the major landmarks in the city. It is the one street that shouldn’t be missed during a visit to Madrid.
Known as the ‘street that never sleeps’, it is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe. Between the two squares that it connects are hundreds of businesses, such as hotels, banks, stores, restaurants, and bars. There are also a number of enormous movie theaters.
The Gran Via is one of the most popular shopping and entertainment areas in the city, and is sometimes even referred to as the Spanish Broadway.
In addition to shopping and nightlife, the street is also renowned for its imposing early 20th-century architecture. The Metropolis Building is a particular highlight, and one of the most famous and photographed structures in Madrid.
HistoryThe origins of the Gran Via lie in the 19th-century necessity to connect the northwestern areas of the city with the historic heart of the city, which used to be – and still is – a maze of small streets. Getting from one side of the city to the other was a daunting task; a new thoroughfare had to be created.
The new urban development project required the demolishing of a large number of buildings in central Madrid, which gave the street the early nickname of ‘an axe blow on the map’. Construction was delayed for several decades and caused the contemporary media to ironically start calling the new thoroughfare the ‘Gran Via’ or ‘Great Way’. Construction was finally approved in 1904; the last section of the street was finished in 1929.
The street and even sections of it have had several names over the years, changing names occurred most frequently in the years leading up and during the Spanish Civil War. The current name was given after the war in 1981, referring back to the street’s original (even though ironic) nickname.
FeaturesA monumental street in itself, the Gran Via is filled with grand architecture and an enormous number of food and entertainment establishments, while connecting two of the most popular areas in the city.
Metropolis BuildingThe creation of the new road offered architects the space and opportunity to design grand buildings in the latest architectural styles. The Metropolis Building, or ‘Edificio Métropolis’ in Spanish, from 1911 is without question the ultimate example of that. Located on the corner of the Gran Via and Calle Alcalá, it is one of the most famous buildings in all of Madrid.
Other Grand BuildingsThe Metropolis Building is, although the most well-known, not the only impressive building. There are also the Edificio Grassy that dates from 1917 and the Telefonica Building, which at 88 meters tall was Madrid’s tallest skyscraper until 1953. Most buildings are topped with beautiful sculptures or statues.
Plaza del CallaoThe Plaza del Callao is crossed by the Gran Via and is the center of cinema in Madrid. The square is home to no less than six large movie theaters. Particularly the Capitol Theater is notable, being located in a stunning Art Deco building.
Plaza de EspañaPlaza de España Madrid lies at the northwestern end of the street and is one of the city’s largest and most popular public squares. This is the location of Edificio España and the Torre de Madrid, two tall skyscrapers, as well as sculptures, a fountain, and a monument.
Visiting the Gran ViaThis bustling street is one of the major shopping and entertainment districts in the city. It really shouldn’t be skipped while visiting Madrid. The street is lined with shops, restaurants, bars, numerous hotels, and huge movie theaters. It is obviously free to walk on the street, but not spending money on food, souvenirs, or any other goods or services would be difficult. It’s a tourist hotspot, after all.
How to Get ThereCentrally located and one of the liveliest, busiest and most popular streets in the city, the Gran Via is easily accessed from anywhere in the city center. It connects the eastern part of the city center, where landmarks such as Buen Retiro Park and the Prado Museum are located, with the northern part of central Madrid, the location of the also popular Plaza de España Madrid.
Several subway lines stop along the Gran Via. Line M1 stops at Gran Via; line M2 stops at Banco de España, Santo Domingo, and Plaza de España; line M3 stops at Plaza de España and Callao; line M5 stops at Gran Via and Callao; and line M10 stops at Plaza de España.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksAdditional landmarks in Madrid include the Royal Palace Madrid, the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol.
Other famous streets elsewhere in the world are Broadway, the Champs-Elysées, and O’Connell Street.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Mar 02, 2015