The Spanish Broadway: Gran Via
As a street of art, entertainment, and performance, Gran Via has a rich history intertwined with countless artists and performers. Mostly consisting of shopping centers as of our day, Gran Via possesses unique specialties that managed to make it the Spanish Broadway. Starting from Calle de Alcala (one of the most important streets in Madrid starting from Puerta del Sol), Gran Via leads to the Plaza de Cibeles where the Fountain of Cybeles lies. This 1.5 kilometer-long road is one of the most important shopping centers of Madrid and provides a historic value. Built mostly in the 20th century, Gran Via has many different architectural styles such as Vienna Secession style, plateresque, neo-Mudejar, mostly relying on revivalism. Let us take a further look into the characteristics of Gran Via.
History of Gran Via
During the 19th century, city planners and architects jointly came up with a series of guides to follow to transform Madrid into essentially a better and more organized city. These massive plans called for the demolition of numerous buildings, connecting Calle de Alcala with Plaza de Espana. After receiving a fair amount of criticism and skepticism from the people and governors of Madrid, the project was approved in 1904. Construction of the first stage of the road was started in 1904, and the third (and last) part of the street eventually ended in 1929. Demolishing more than 300 buildings and 50 streets, Gran Via led to a mass renovation of the entire city center of Madrid. During this renovation, countless theaters and concert halls were built. During the late 2000s, most of the theaters and concert halls were replaced by shopping malls. Gran Via went through a set of renovations in 2018 that essentially pedestrianized a portion of the street by extending the lengths of sidewalks on both sides. As of our day, this must-to-visit street is a low-emission road full of pedestrians and life.
Throughout history, Gran Via had numerous different names that were both official and unofficial. As it had three different parts, each one had respective names that led to confusion and misunderstandings. Before and during the Spanish Civil War, as leftist propaganda, the avenue was named Russia Avenue and then Soviet Union Avenue; but it was mostly called “Avenida de los obuses”, regarding the bombardment attacks of Nationalist forces to the avenue. Later then, Gran Via was renamed after the founder of the fascist party. Once Spain returned to democracy in 1981, the socialist mayor restored the name of each 27 street, and the avenue itself was named just Gran Via, meaning “Great Way”.
Important Sights in Gran Via
As an original project of Gran Via led the way to the destruction of countless buildings, empty lots and places were left for many talented architects to fill. As the government gave full support, they needed these architects to renovate and fill the empty avenue, Gran Via quickly spiraled to be full of grand architectural masterpieces. Metropolis Building, built by Jules and Raymond Fevrier, is the most famous and renowned building located in Gran Via. Edificio Grassy is a building with a small tower built in 1917. The first skyscraper of Europe is located in this avenue as well. Used by the Spanish telecommunications company for a period of time, Telefonica Building is an 88-meter building that must be visited.