The Gran Via is a shopping hub and a center for nightlife. Like much of Madrid, the strip celebrates the past while embracing the future: boutique stores and international brands are housed in some of Madrid’s most iconic heritage architecture.
The shops along the Gran Via represent a mix of styles and products. Local boutiques stand beside large international chains such as H&M and Levi’s. El Corte Inglés and a Real Madrid merchandise store are among the leading Spanish brand names represented. The Gran Via is also home to a number of cinemas, theaters, bars and clubs, earning it a reputation as Madrid’s “street that never sleeps.” Come in the day to shop and then stay for a meal, a show and dance into the next morning.
Walking down the street, you will see the bright signs and advertisements of a modern shopping district. Look up and you will see Gran Via as it looked in the early 20th century.
The Gran Via was planned as a means to connect Madrid’s northwest with the old town center. Four streets, two convents and a market were all demolished to make way for the new shopping district. This gave the architects of the time an opportunity to design large, ambitious buildings in the latest styles.
Spend some time slowly walking the street with your camera in hand. The Gran Via showcases international architectural trends such as art déco and beaux arts alongside some less familiar styles, including historicism and rationalism. Don’t miss the Edificio Grassy and the Edificio Metropolis, two of the most popular buildings along the street. The Edificio Grassy is easy to recognize because of its roof: a rotunda topped by two belvederes, or open sided galleries. The Edificio Metropolis is similarly recognizable with a huge statue of Goddess Victoria crowning its domed roof.
The Gran Via lies between the Plaza de España and the Plaza de Cibeles. It is easily accessible by metro, with a number of stations close by. Once here, explore the street on foot.