Tourist’s guide to Gran Via – the center of Madrid’s shopping and entertainment

Gran Via, whose name in Spanish means “high road”, is one of the most visited places in Madrid. It will be interesting not only to lovers of architectural attractions, but also to true shopaholics who prefer to buy branded items at affordable prices.

Gran Via in Madrid

General information

Gran Via is not just the central street of the Spanish capital, but its main symbol. Since its founding in the first half of the 20th century, it has become one of the busiest corners of the Spanish capital, attracting visitors from all over Europe. And the point here is not only the abundance of outlets, but also in the unusual architecture that combines several styles at once – rationalism, modernism and neo-revival.

And Gran Via Madrid can be divided into 3 zones. In the first, commercial, there are jewelry workshops, fashion boutiques and insurance companies. The second section of the street, the largest, belongs to hotels and large department stores. Well, on the third, rubbing to the Plaza of Spain, there are nightclubs, cinemas, theaters, cafes and other entertainment venues.

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Historical reference

Old photo of Gran Via

Tourists walking along Gran Via in Madrid do not even realize that she might not have been at this place at all. Firstly, the initial draft of the boulevard, created by the famous Spanish architect back in 1862, was put on the back burner and forgotten for 40 years. And secondly, even when it was finally approved, the city authorities faced violent protests from residents whose houses were to be demolished, and street vendors who opposed the appearance of large retail outlets.

But this adversity in the history of Gran Via Madrid did not end. The French banker Martin Albert Silver, who acquired the right to implement this prospectus at one of the city auctions, could not cope with the task. Work, the final cost of which amounted to almost 30 million pesetas, was first suspended, and then completely threatened with disruption. The situation was saved by the Spanish businessman Horacio Echeveriette Maruri, who became the successor to the previous owner and brought the matter to its logical conclusion.

The result of his labors was a new city boulevard, the width of which was 35 m, and the length reached 1315. In order for it to appear on the map of Madrid, the builders had to make tremendous efforts: more than 300 houses were demolished, 14 were destroyed and shortened 55 nearby streets, many old trees were transplanted and a lot of buildings were redone.

View of the old Gran Via

What to see on the street?

Gran Via Via in Madrid is famous not only for its long history, but also for many architectural objects, the oldest of which is the church of Oratorio Caballero de Gracia, built in the first half of the 16th century. No less tourist interest is metropolis. The monumental building, built for the insurance company in 1911, can be recognized by its classical architecture and a high dome crowned with a marble statue of the goddess Nika.

Grassi Building on Gran Via

Another oldest building in Gran Via Madrid is the Cultural Center of the Army and Navy, whose interior is striking in its beauty and sophistication. Next is Grassi, a unique structure created specifically for the jewelry company of the same name and complemented by an unusual spherical tower.

Another decoration of the most famous avenue of the Spanish capital is the Hotel Senator, a luxurious four-star hotel, on the roof of which there is an excellent observation deck and a large outdoor pool. Directly opposite it, you can see another famous city attraction. We are talking about the 80-meter Telephonics, which at the time of its appearance in 1930 was considered the tallest building in Europe. You can recognize this “house” by the luminous clock placed on the facade.

Going a little further, you will see the famous Palace of Music, which at one time played 2 roles at once – the main cinema and concert venue. Other architectural sights of Gran Via include such famous buildings as the Tea Salon, considered the founder of Madrid’s illuminated advertising, Gran Peña cafe, which serves delicious coffee, and Chicot bar, whose interior has not changed since 1931.

Shopping on Gran Via

Shopping on Gran Via

As the center of the commercial life of Madrid, Gran Via will delight shopping enthusiasts with a huge number of hypermarkets, fashion boutiques, souvenir shops and various shops that sell anything. Here you can find both world famous brands (H&M, Adidas, Mango, Bershka, Stradivarius, New Balance, Lefties, etc.), as well as popular Spanish brands offering quality products at affordable prices (Pull & Bear, OYSHO, Calzedonia, etc. .). It is also important that discounts in most of them reach 50% of the initial cost, so you are unlikely to go home without shopping.

No less popular is the souvenir shop owned by the professional football club Real Madrid. The prices in it, of course, bite, but this does not stop true football fans. But housewives and connoisseurs of home comfort will surely appreciate the ALE-HOP chain of stores, famous for a wide selection of textiles, gifts, decorative elements and all sorts of original things.

Among other things, do not forget to look into the El Corte Ingles hypermarket – you can buy not only clothes, dishes, cosmetics, furniture and household appliances, but also various delicacies. Well, the main pride of Gran Via Madrid is the luxury boutique “Loewe”, the jewelry store “Sans” and the watch store “Grassy”, existing here from time immemorial.

El corte ingles

Useful Tips

Going to Gran Via Via in Madrid, arm yourself with a selection of useful recommendations:

  1. You can get to the famous avenue by metro (Callao L3, L5, Gran Vía L1, L5, Plaza de España L2, L3, L 10, Santo Domingo L2), or by bus (No. 202, 44, 2, 148, 1 74, 1, 146, 3, 46, and 133).
  2. As in any other tourist place, there are many poor and pocket thieves, so take a closer look at your belongings.
  3. Walking along the main boulevard of the Spanish capital is not only in the daytime, but also in the evening. Sparkling multi-colored lights, signs and street lamps look very elegant.
  4. Gran Via in the evening
  5. In the immediate vicinity of Gran Via are the most famous city attractions (Cibeles Square, Chueca district, the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum and others), so you can safely plan to get acquainted with these objects for one day.
  6. If you are traveling to Madrid just for the sake of shopping, remember that winter sales last from January to March, and summer sales from July to September. The size of discounts during this period is from 15 to 70%.

El Corte Ingles is one of Madrid’s largest hypermarkets:

Posted by: Olga Sheyko

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