Brief history of the Gran Vía boulevard
Its construction began in 1910 and ended in 1932, beginning in the East (crossing with Calle de Alcalá) and ending in the West (in the Plaza de España). The project had been studied since the previous century, but the construction required demolishing a large number of buildings and redesigning the previous small streets, so it took decades to overcome all the urban difficulties.
What to do in Gran Via?
In its origins the Gran Vía had mainly cinemas, theaters, small shops and hotels. Today it’s one of the most vibrant areas of Madrid, full of people, every day at almost any time, perfect for people watching! Some of the old theaters and cinemas have closed but the number of big stores of national and international fashion firms has increased exponentially.
Rooftops with views to have dinner or drinks
Our favorite thing to do in Gran Via is watching it from the many rooftops it has:
- Círculo de Bellas Artes, It is located at the fork between Calle Alcalá and Gran Vía, its views are spectacular, it’s a must!
- Gran Vía Gourmet Experience, It’s located in Plaza de Callao, but it has views to Gran Vía.
- Viewpoints and roof-top hotel restaurants: Many of the hotels on Gran Vía have terraces where anyone can go, not just the hotel guests. Like the Dear Hotel, the Vincci Via 66, the Main Hotel, etc. Learn about them in our list of rooftops in Madrid.
Virtually the entire Gran Vía was built in during the same period of 20-25 years, so most of the buildings follow the same style and give unity as a whole.
- Metropolis Building: One of the icons of the city, which gives access to the Gran Vía and bifurcates with Calle Alcalá.
- Telefonica Building: Standing at 89m was the tallest skyscraper in Europe (1929). Nowadays it has an exhibition center.
- Capitol Building: It is a hotel and a cinema, famous mainly for its colorful neon advertising sign.
Theaters and Movie theaters
From the Plaza de Callao to the Plaza de España there are numerous theaters and cinemas, noteworthy examples below:
- The Callao Cinemas, Capitol Cinema and Cinema of the Press are among the few that still remain in the center of Madrid, all three are in the Callao area.
- La Chocita del Loro: Famous theater for stand up comedy.
- Teatro Lope de Vega: It has been hosting very successful musicals for over 20 years, such as Beauty and the Beast, Mamma Mia!, Los Miserables, Spamalot, The Lion King … And many others both on Gran Via and in the nearby streets: Rialto Theater, Arlequin Theater, Phillips Light Theater, Prince Theater, etc.
Shopping in Gran Via
Needless to say, the Gran Vía is one of the main shopping areas in Madrid: La Casa del Libro, El Corte Inglés, la tienda del Real Madrid, Primark, H&M, Zara, Desigual, Mango, Nike, Oysho, Springfield, Ale-Hop, Parfois, Geox, Camper, Clarks, Lacoste, Salvador Bachiller, Kiko, Sfera, etc.
Other pedestrian streets near Gran Vía
- Fuencarral street: Bordering the neighborhoods of Chueca and Malasaña. Ideal to go to cloth shopping in the smaller and less known boutiques than those of the Gran Vía.
- Preciados street: Together with Gran Via this is the busiest street in Madrid for shopping, connects Gran Via with Puerta del Sol.
- Montera street: Until very recently it was an ugly and neglected street, even with prostitution. Today this is improving and now there are a lot of clothing stores, shoe shops, restaurants with terraces (fast food), a police station, a cinema and one of the most curious McDonalds in Spain, because it is in an old and luxurious jewelry store.
Gran Via in the map
Those are the streets that we recommend you to visit around Gran Via: Fuencarral (green line), Preciados (purple line) and Montera (yellow line).