Gran Vía is probably the most famous street in Madrid. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, the whole street was rebuilt. The Metropolis building (see photo) with gold on the top (which by the way, is real gold), and also the Rolex building have Parisian architectural features. The reason is very simple: Paris in those days was considered the capital city of the world. The city of light, the city of the future, that’s why the first section of Gran Vía was built in a Parisian style. But during construction in the 1920s, New York city started to become the city to follow, so that’s why the 2nd section of Gran Vía was built in an American Art Deco style, starting with the Telefonica building, (the one with the clock).
The Telefonica building was the first skyscraper in Madrid (and Spain) and the tallest building in Europe for 3 months. Take a walk down down Gran Via, and you will find 3 main things: First, the beautiful American architecture, second, the busiest shopping area in town, and lastly, the busiest cultural nightlife in Madrid, not so much in terms of bars and discos, but theatres and cinemas. There’s a huge variety of musicals, and this is why many people, including the late writer Ernest Hemingway, call Gran Vía “Madrid’s Broadway”.