History of the Street
Gran Vía is Madrid’s best-known street. In the past, the avenue used to be called “Avenida de Rusia” because of Russia’s support of the Spanish Republic or “Avenida del quince y medio”. During Franco’s dictatorship, Gran Vía was renamed “Avenida de José Antonio”, after the founder of the fascist party.
The project of the Gran Vía avenue took several decades to complete. The first blueprints of the street date back to 1862, when part of the city centre was renovated. However, the final project was not presented until 1899 by the architects José López Salaberry and Francisco Octavio Palacios and the boulevard was finally completed in 1929.
The Gran Vía was one of the most challenging urban constructions in Spain as it was necessary to demolish over 300 buildings and 50 streets. Thanks to this thoroughfare, the city centre was better connected to the north-eastern part of Madrid.
What to see
Currently, Gran Vía houses numerous restaurants, bars and clothing stores, cinemas and theatres. In the past few years, and although many of the theatres and cinemas have closed, Gran Vía retains its reputation as the Spanish Broadway.
Gran Vía is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Madrid and it is said that to be the street that never sleeps. Some of the most famous buildings in the country can be found here, such as the famous Metropolis building or the Carrion building, with its famous Schweppes sign.
It is also one of the most important shopping streets and houses Primark’s second largest shop in the world, as well as other well-known brands like Zara, Loewe, H&M, Sfera and Pull and Bear.