Gran Vía (literally "Great Way") is an ornate and upscale shopping street located in central Madrid. It leads from Calle de Alcalá, close to Plaza de Cibeles, to Plaza de España. The lively street is one of the city's most important shopping areas, with a large number of hotels and large movie theaters; it is also noted for the grand architecture prevalent among many of its buildings. Now, most of the theaters are being replaced by shopping malls.
It is considered a showcase of early 20th century architecture, with patterns ranging from Vienna Secession style, Plateresque, Neo-Mudéjar, Art Deco and others. In the mid 19th century, Madrid's urban planners decided that a new thoroughfare had to be created, connecting the Calle de Alcalá with the Plaza de España.
The project required many buildings in the center of the city to be demolished, earning it the name of 'an axe blow on the map'. Decades after the first plans were made, construction still hadn't started and the media ridiculed the project, cynically calling it the 'Gran Vía' or 'Great Road'. Finally in 1904 it was approved and construction started a couple of years later. The last part of the street was completed in 1929.
The new road created opportunities for architects, who had the ability to create large buildings in the latest architectural styles. The first eye catching building starting from the Calle de Alcalá is the most famous of all, the Edificio Metrópolis or Metropolis Building. The landmark was built between 1907 and 1911 after a design by the architects Jules and Raymond Février.