The Grand Road

It had rained the previous night, and the temperature had turned bearable just as my trip to Spain was coming to an end. Around mid-day I walked down Gran Via, a street full of shops, movie halls, theatres, bars and restaurants, and even one casino.

Construction of this road started in 1910, following 40 years of planning and dithering. In these 40 years musicals and satires were written about it, and the name Gran Via was originlly given to it as a joke. In the 19 years that passed before it was completed, 14 other streets were destroyed along with buildings around them in order to construct this showcase of urban planning.

I started my walk from the Plaza de España, near the end of the street. Brick facades just off the Gran Via drew my attention. The style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but the use of brick and tiles in decorating the facade makes them look very attractive even now. The buildings on the main avenue are in a mixture of styles, as you can see from the photos below.

Particularly notable for its chequered history is the Edifico Telefonica, which played a role in the defence of Madrid during the civil war, and therefore had the distinction of being the most frequently shelled building of that time. Ernest Hemingway was one of the war correspondents who covered the news from his haunt in the bar at Museo Chicotle next to this building. Perhaps he gave the name "Howitzer Alley" to this road at that time.

Unfortunately, it is hard to find a detailed list (in English) of buildings along this route, or their architectural history. But if you are willing to try to puzzle out the Spanish, then there is an excellent guide which you can find here.

Just another little

As we walked past this church in Madrid, I would not have guessed that it was only a hundred years old. The building was huge, and the entrance to the church was squeezed between two parts of a facade lined with windows. The Family said, this looks like a residential church. Indeed it was, as we discovered from prophet Google.
The parish church of Santa Teresa y San Jose, to give it its local name, is a combination of a hospital, a religious convent and a church.

Work on it was started in 1916 and completed in twelve years. Within a few years, it was burnt down during the Spanish Civil War, and was then reconstructed. So, the crenellation and Gothic look of the structure is just href=””>romantic imagination. We saw that a religious service was in progress and did not go in. In Spain tourists are often forbidden from entering churches during service.

There were statues and other decorations on the facade (I think the photo on the left probably shows the patron saint of the church), all striving to make the church look older than it actually is. We gawked at all this and decided that the most admirable part of the building was the mosaic covered full dome which you can see in the featured photo.