Monday, 6 December 2010

Gran Via, Madrid

 Calle Gran Via esquina Calle Alcolá      

A wonderful confection of buildings at the start of the Gran Via, as the city life flows down it.

The Gran Via in the centre of Madrid is a premier shopping area and also, as can be seen, a showcase of early 20th Century architecture. Its origin was in the 19th Century when urban planners decided that a new thoroughfare was needed to link Calle Alcalá with the Plaza de España.  Many buildings were demolished to further this plan, it was described as "an axe blow on the map", decades past and construction had still not commenced. The press ridiculed this non starting project calling it the Gran Via (the Great Road). Eventually in 1904 the plans were passed to start building and 25 years later the street was complete to become indeed the Great Road, the planners had a sense of humour.

Its most famous building is the one on the card, the Edificio Metrópolis built between 1907-11, designed by Raymond Février in the French Beaux-Arts style. Originally there was a statue depicting a Phoenix with Ganymede sitting on its wing however when Metrópolis Seguros bought the building in 1972 the previous owners took the statue with them. Always tricky moving house. As well as cleaning and renovating the building Metrópolis Seguros installed the statue that can be seen today of the winged goddess Victory.

Now I mentioned this was a shopping area and the Italianate building to the right has been the home of the exclusive (read expensive) jewellers Grassy since 1952. As can be seen the building chimes in appearance with the Metrópolis which was what the architect Eladio Laredo aimed to achieve when it was built on a similar shaped piece of land in 1916. Speaking of chimes the building also houses a museum of antique clocks.

Thank you Pak for the cards. 

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