The Gran Via of Madrid!!!

One of if not the one emblematic street of my dear Madrid! This one goes back to the 30’s really but it could have been name differently. Let me update this memorable post and hope you enjoy as I telling you. The Gran Via of Madrid!!!

Ok so this is not new, but always heavens for me. Got to tell more of the history of this great artery of my beloved Madrid. So much so, that is World famous as one of the great avenues of the World.  I am talking about the Gran Via of Madrid.  The street is so popular and so much written on it, that I have overlook writing about it. It is so essential of Madrid, well you could not come to the city without walking it at least. The Gran  Via is part of the history of Madrid,and all is represented there. 


How to get to Gran Vía, well its easy all know it you can’t missed it. However, by metro takes you there Plaza de España on lines 3 and 10, Santo Domingo onn lilne 2, Callao on lines  2, 3,and 5, and of course Gran Vía on lines 1 and 5. Buses of Madrid last confirmed were lines 1, 2, 3, 44, 46, 74, 75, 133, 147, 148, 202 and  M2.Also, nearby Plaza de España, you can get there on Metro as above plus Noviciado on line 2. Buses as above and addition to lines  25, 39, 138,  C1 and C2. OF course, with the pandemic check the lines for schedules.

Madrid gran via

Let me give give some history on it, that I like.

The Gran Vía is entirely located in the Centro or city center district, it extends over the districts of Justicia, Parlamento, Sol, Universidad and Palacio, for a total length of 1 300 meters (4290 feet).  It comprises three sections, the first of which extends from Calle de Alcalá to Plaza San Luis, the second to the Plaza Callao and finally the third to the Plaza de Espana.

As the project progressed, the three sections each bore a different name: Calle del  Conde de Peñalver for the first, Avenidad Pi y Margall for the second and  Calle Eduardo Dato for the third.  In April 1936, the first two sections took the name of Avenida  de la CNT before being redesignated as the Avenue of Russia at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by the leftist Republicans. A new change was made in November 1937 in favor of Avenue of the Soviet Union. That same year, the last stretch took the name of Avenue of Mexico. On 24 April 1939, after the victory of Gen.  Franco, the ensemble was baptized Avenue José Antonio (as I came to know it first).  Finally, in 1981, the Socialist mayor Enrique Tierno Galván gave it the official name of Gran Vía for the first time, and as of today.

Offering a wide range of styles ranging from the Viennese secession to the New York Art Deco, through the Plateresque, Neo-Mudejar and Haussmann architectures, Gran Vía is considered a showcase of the arts built from the twilight of the beautiful era at the dawn of the years 50’s. The construction of it took quite some time and many streets and building razed to make room for it. However, to note ,there were three attempts to do this road and finally at the third it was the charmer.

First,in 1862, after the refurbishment of the Puerta del Sol made five years before and the subsequent extension of the Calle Preciados to the area of the current Plaza de Callao, the Advisory board  drew up a first project consisting of the Extension of the aforementioned street to the Plaza de San Marcial, where the Plaza de España is currently located. Second in 1886 a project of prolongation of the Calle Preciados was approved, describing a large east-west transverse Avenue between Calle de Alcalá  and The Plaza de San Marcial,  offered three alternatives to join Calle de Alcalá, from the Church of San José, with the current Plaza de España. This project presented an avenue of 25 or 30 meters wide with roundabouts at the crossroads with the most important streets. This project was the origin of La Gran Via zarzuela (Spanish Operetta), with music by Federico Chueca and  scenes by Felipe Pérez y González. The work, premiered on July 2 of that same year and which garnered a great success.

In 1897 the municipal architects  were in charge of making a new project and in 1899 presented their project of reform of extension of the Calle  Preciados and link of the plaza de Callao with the Calle de Alcalá in it was proposed the realization of the work dividing it in  three sections as such;  Avenue A (534 meters), from the Plaza de San Marcial (current Calle de los Reyes) to Callao; The Boulevard (409 meters), from Callao to the Red de San Luis and Avenida B (417 meters), from the Red de San Luis to Calle de Alcalá. The total length would be 1,316 meters and the width of 25 meters, except the boulevard that would be 35 meters. It would  achieved, according to the project, the direct communication between the districts of Argüelles and Salamanca; The decongestion of the Puerta del Sol, the disappearance of a whole cluster of narrow and unhygienic streets and a more comfortable link between the stations of Atocha and Príncipe Pio. This one was approved on August 21, 1904, the works began finally on April 4, 1910. The first section, between the Calle de Alcalá and the one of Calle Montera was carried out between 1910 and 1915. On March 28, 1917 it was officially reported that the works were finished, although the definitive delivery occurred on July 18, 1924. The second section, the boulevard, between the Red de San Luis and Callao, took place in the following four years, between 1917 and 1922, although the definitive delivery of works was on August 20, 1927. The third section, was planned to continue in the direction of the Calle de  Jacometrezo, towards the Cuesta de San Vicente, in an almost straight extension with the second stretch, but was changed to splice with the Calle de la Princesa, which proved to be a success, so it was built and between Plaza de Callao and the Plaza de Espana; It was started on February 16, 1925 and was completed in 1929 although the delivery of works was on September 22, 1932 and some buildings would not be completed until after the Spanish Civil War.

Some of my favorites emblematic buildings on the Gran Via are:

Edificio Metropolis (1911), (see post) Strictly speaking it does not belong to this street, since it is the number 39 of the Calle de Alcalá, but, coming up from the Plaza de  Cibeles, it serves of undoubted letter of presentation of the Gran Via.


Gran Via 1 (1916-1917) An eclectic-style building with reliefs and modernist-style tiles. Throughout its history it has been occupied by the Café Molinero, the Sicilian-Molinero restaurant, The Case de Piano , the Aeolian or the Grassy jeweler since 1952, which has a clock museum.

The Hotel de Letras, named for its construction, in 1917, “lodgings for the Count of Artaza”, is occupied by a hotel since 2005.

The Casa Matesanz, located at n ° 27, at the corner with the Calle de Tres Cruces, inspired by the architecture of Chicago to make this commercial building.

The Telefónica building, No. 28 (1929-1953 the highest skyscraper in Spain. It is also one of the first in Europe.

La Casa del Libro, no 29, had a construction firm now encloses about 30 small stores .

Gran via 8 (1915) The first house that was finished building on the new avenue. Here was the famous patisserie-cafeteria of Aquiles Caserta. The Loewe store is located in its street level since 1939.

The façade of the Oratory of the Knight of Grace (1916), (Oratorio del Caballero de la Gracia) no 17. From the Gran via you can only see the apse of this Church. It was designed a new façade aligned with the rest of the buildings. In the 1970’s was given the view of the apse practicing a great arch in the facade of Luque.

Madrid-Paris Building (1922-1924), at no 32. It was the tallest building up to 1929, in which it was surpassed by that of Telefónica. In 1934 after the purchase of the building by the dept store chain Sepu (now gone) suffers a great transformation. This building also houses the PRISA group headquarters, where some of the country’s main radio stations are concentrated, such as the main 40, M80 radio, or the Cadena SER.

The Palacio de la Musica built  for the general public company of spectacles, has been unoccupied since 2008. In 2020, Madrid City Council gave the go ahead for the Montemadrid Foundation to begin the process of restoring the property, respecting all of its original elements, as it s fully protected. After the refurbishment, the building will re-open its doors as a theatre space for diverse shows and it will have a multi-purpose hall on the top floor that may include catering associated with the theatre.  

The Palacio de la Prensa, No. 46 built from 1924 to 1928, takes its name from the fact that it was ordered by the Madrid Press Association. It housed the headquarters of various newspapers and, until 2015, that of the Socialist Party of Madrid. Now is the movie theater, Sala 0.  

The Carrión building (also known as the Capitol Building) cultivates an air of resemblance with the Flatiron building in New York. Built between 1931 and 1933, it bears the name of its sponsor, Enrique Carrión y Vecín, marquis de Melín. He is best known for his immense luminous sign in the colors of Schweppes.

Madrid gran via by hotel capitol now vincci

Lope de Vega building (1945-1949), no. 53, 55, 57, and 59, it hosted the a big underground shopping center. The Hotel Lope de Vega  and a theater opened in 1949  with the play Tonadilla by Concha Piquer, and change to cinema in 1954.renovated in  2003, it change name to be call now Emperador, and the shopping center was reduce in space.

Cinema Rialto of Madrid (1930),no 54.  The cinema opened in  1930 with musical variaties of Paramount. Between 1932 and 1934 it was called Astoria. By 1957 it hosted the last dance of cuplé. Today it is call the Teatro Rialto and it shows musicals such as Los 40, O Cabaret, etc.

Coliseum building (1931-1932), no 78. The building has an American style architecture and was ordered built by the music composer Jacinto Guerrero. The cinema opened here in 1932 with the movie Champ. Now is the Teatro Coliseum.

Already reaching the Plaza de España, you can see the buildings of España and  Torre de Madrid, both at more tan 100 meters high. Torre de Madrid built in 1957, was during many years the tallest building in the city until the Torre Picasso.

And some description of some of the stores, restaurants and hotels that I have enjoyed over the years on the Gran Via !

The new H&M, at no 37 ,lets you see the tinsel of the old Cinema Avenue and the legendary Pasapoga party room, where they passed from Nazi spies to stars such as Ava Gardner or Gary Cooper; at no 34 Zara, One of the official stores of Real Madrid, at no 31; Or PRIMARK, the new dept store whose shocking space in number 32 has caused furor. At no  27, where the amazing fabric store Julian Lopez survives.  And more , Benetton’s shop, 41, Lacoste, 51, Carmina, 58.  at no  2 Ramón Freixa has installed its new restaurant there: Atico. At no  7. Jeweller Sanz, another of the representatives of luxury in Gran via. It’s been going on since it was opened in no  9,  the Catalonia Gran Vía Hotel, formerly known as Catalonia Gaudí, stands in a building from the beginning of the 20C; at no 10 Mercado de la Reina, Which is not a market but an inspired restaurant, yes, with the fresh market products of the day and in the traditional stalls

No 12.the mythical Chicote Museum, which is also not a museum but a joint of all life. A classic cocktail between the classics, on the spot for 84 years and now has been transformed into a music club. Sunday Brunch and Dj sessions with people like Bimba Bose or Sofia Cristo   no 13. Cultural Center of the armies, or military Casino or army and Navy center.

N º 24. For years it has hosted the circle of the Mercantile and Industrial Union of Madrid. But now it’s the Gran Via Casino. No. 26 Papizza: Unlike other local pizza at the cut, this has seats and seating space. The best, your happy hour: everything to 1 euro from 17 to 7pm. And next, the Swiss Union, there since 1840. No. 25. Gran Vía Hotel, mythical from 1920 and now member of the TRYP group. In the basses is Bershka, known for being the squat of the legendary Madrid Rock.

Number 27. House Matesanz Era the year 1923. It houses the headquarters of Madrid Diario and the School of Decoration. Underneath is Julián Lopez’s knitting store. And a plaque recalls its past: in the 16C it was one of the few buildings designed by the architect Juan de Herrera in the capital, and in it lived the sculptor of Felipe II Giacomo da Trezzo, or, as it was known for posterity , Jacometrezo. And cornering, Cortefiel’s shop.

No. 30. Sfera, the first fashion shop on this sidewalk Pans and Company, also with terrace on the street-difficult to understand the attractiveness of terraces like these right next to a car-filled avenue. No. 31 in the lower floor are the Real Madrid Store, the Clarks shoe store and a Pull & Bear.

No. 39. Allianz Building, 1926. A mysterious animal presides over its facade: it is a winged lion of San Marcos that holds a book whose inscription reads: “Pax Tibi Marce, evangelist meus ” (“Peace be with you, Marcus, my Evangelist”). The street level are occupied by a Swarovski store and a Ulanka footwear. No. 38. Jules, boys ‘ clothes. The Atlantic Hotel and the Nike store. No. 40. Springfield Woman, and Burger King.

Cine Callao (another of the few historic ones that resist), a Desigual and FNAC store. Although it seems that the French teaches has always been there… what goes; In fact it was the company that replaced the Almacenes Galerías Preciados in 1993, after being absorbed by the El Corte Inglés in the 1990’s. N º 41. The Carrión building, on which the Benetton shop is located. In this same issue, also the Vincci Hotel and the Capitol cinema, n º 43. The first Vips-Gino and the Iris shoe store n º 45. Another disappeared, the cinema Rex. The one who does hold still is the Hotel Rex, right on top.

No. 53. Hotel Emperador. Not everyone knows the secret he hides on his rooftop: a roof garden, or Beach club. That is to say an outdoor swimming pool on the attic floor. Share number with a newest Tommy Mel-remember both the Peach Pit of feeling to live-and a Bingo. No. 56. More shops, Carmina shoes, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.

No. 63. A 100 Montaditos with Super Terrace, which goes from Ole Madrid to Salvador Bachelor. Hotel Vincci at Gran via 66 at ,p. 70. Hotel Playa Senator. The best, your spa. Next door, the theatre room La Chocita del Loro, known for its performances of monologues. No. 69. Another Burger King, this one is big N º 72. Grilled meats at María Parrilla’s restaurant. And the Tryp Madrid Centro Hotel, next to the Museo del Jamon (Ham Museum reto) , the only one on this street.

Some webpages to help you know and enjoy more of the Gran Via are:

The shopping in Gran Via webpage in English: http://Some webpages to help you know and enjoy more of the Gran Via are

The Madrid tourist office on the Gran Via:

Memories and history of the 100 + years of the Gran Via webpage in Spanish:

There you go folks, a dandy in nice Madrid!! You can’t missed been here, the Gran Via is Madrid as any other world’s great avenues. Hope you enjoy the wonderful Gran Via of Madrid.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “The Gran Via of Madrid!!!”

  1. What a street that really is.

    Liked by 1 person

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