Gran Via and Sol Walking Tour, Madrid

Madrid is a vibrant metropolis full of taste, vigor, and wealth. This walk takes to two of the city's most prominent areas - Gran Vía and Sol – with the latter being Madrid's epicenter and a meeting place for locals and tourists alike. Gran Via ("Great Way") is a high-end thoroughfare in the heart of the capital, nicknamed Spanish Broadway for its numerous world-class shops and nightlife entertainment. To discover Madrid that never sleeps, take this walk and enjoy yourself.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Gran Via and Sol Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Gran Via and Sol Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Madrid (See other walking tours in Madrid)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 17
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Author: emma
1
Carrión Edifice

1) Carrión Edifice

The Edificio Carrión, located in Plaza Callao, is the building that hosts the Capitol Cinema. It is a famous landmark of Gran Via and was built between 1931 and 1933 using marble and granite. The building has an art-deco style with several decorations and incorporated technological advances, which was totally new at the time.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Plaza de Callao

2) Plaza de Callao (must see)

Although it is neither very large nor very important, you won’t miss the Plaza Callao, which is crossed by the Gran Via, especially if you would like to see a film in Spanish, as there are six cinemas in the square. It also boasts buildings that were once the tallest in Spain.

The Palacio de la Pensa was built in 1929 and with its 14 storeys it was the tallest building in Madrid until the Telefonica Building surpassed it. The building houses a café, a concert hall and a cinema, as well as offices, private flats and the Madrid headquarters of the Socialist Party.

The Carrion Building was built in 1933 by the architects Eced and Feduchi in an Art Deco style of white marble and granite. It won a second-class medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1934. Its cinema is on the ground floor. In 2007 the facade was restored and all the advertising slogans were removed, apart from the one for Schweppes, which is a symbol and has appeared in films and documentaries.

The Callao Cinema Building was built in 1927 by Louis Gutierrez Soto. It is a fine example of Spanish Neo-Baroque with a Viennese Art Deco interior. The terrace is used in fine weather for open-air film screenings. The first “talkie” in Spain was shown here in 1929.

Tip:
Go at night to see the Schweppes sign and the rest of Gran Via in all its neon glory!
For an even better experience, go to the El Corte Inglés department store (located at the square) up to the 9th floor which is the food court, and from there you get great views, especially looking towards Gran Via.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Edificio Telefónica

3) Edificio Telefónica

While you are in Madrid, don’t miss a trip to the Edificio Telefonica on the Gran Via, which was once the tallest building in Europe.

The building was designed by Ignacio de Cardenas who based his plans on those of the American architect Lewis Weeks. The 90 meter high, 14 storey American-style skyscraper has nevertheless a Spanish Baroque facade of elaborately sculptured ornaments.

Since its construction in 1929 it has been a symbol of Madrid and was used during the civil war by the Republican army as a lookout for enemy troop movements and it housed the offices of the foreign press. Ernest Hemingway was one of the foreign journalists at the time and he got the inspiration of his famous book “For whom the bell tolls” here. Unfortunately, its height also made it an ideal target for bombing raids by Franco’s troops.

Today the building plays a more peaceful role in Spanish life. The first two floors are shopping malls where you can buy any and every kind of communications equipment. Other floors house the Museum of Telecommunication, the Technology Museum and an auditorium. Two other floors are given over to temporary Spanish art exhibitions. The rest of the building serves as office space.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Gran Via

4) Gran Via (must see)

There is nothing like an afternoon’s shopping and for that, there is nothing like the Gran Via, the most popular and up-market street in Madrid. It also has a variety of interesting buildings.

The Via runs from Calle de Alcala to the Plaza de Espana and is lined with theaters, hotels and, of course, shops. You will find everything you could wish for here, from leather handbags and shoes to souvenirs with prices to match.

The Via also crosses squares, such as the Plaza Callao which has a lot of cinemas and ends at the Plaza de Espana where you will find two of Madrid’s famous skyscrapers, the Edificio España and the Torre de Madrid.

The Via is not without its own splendid tall buildings: the Edificio Metropolis, which was built in the early 20th century and has a winged statue of Victoria on its dome; the Edificio Telefonica, the 90-meter high American style building and the Edificio Grassy, built in 1917. The latter, just off Calle Alcala at the beginning of the Gran Via, has decorations on its facade that are a remarkable mixture of Medieval, Spanish Renaissance, Spanish Modernism and Classical French. At the top of the building is a rotunda of two superimposed belvederes. On the ground floor is the famous Grassy watch shop and in the basement is a marvelous Museum of Antique Clocks.

Why You Should Visit:
A great place to stroll and take in the sights, particularly the skyline and the frontage of many of the old buildings.

Tip:
Early evening is probably the best time to walk the walk, particularly on hot days.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Del Diego

5) Del Diego

Always crowded late at night, this site is known for serving the best cocktails in Madrid. Owner Fernando del Diego, a former barman at Taberna Chicote, and his two sons make the delicious original drinks that locals know they can find only here. It is a small bar, with a light and breezy atmosphere. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy drinks with friends.
6
Museo Chicote

6) Museo Chicote

When you are looking at your list of museums to visit in Madrid, don’t be misled by the Museo Chicote on the Gran Via – it is not a museum, it is the most famous cocktail bar in Madrid. During the Spanish Civil War the bar was a favorite meeting place for the Foreign Press and Hemingway was one of its most regular patrons. It has kept its nineteen thirties Retro style, but has added modern lighting, modern acoustics, a dance floor and some of the top Spanish DJ’s to entertain you into the small hours. The walls are festooned with the great and famous who have (perhaps) sipped refreshing cocktails in the heat of the Spanish summer nights. Here you can see – apart from the famous Ernest – photos of Dali, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles, among others.

If Ava Gardener ever frequented the place, you would have a hard time proving she didn't – a well positioned photo suggests that she did; but in these days of airbrushing software, who really knows? Only the bar-tenders and they are keeping mum! The cocktails aren't very cheap, around 7 Euros a glass, and a lot of people don’t find them up to the high standard the fame of the bar requires they should be, but you should visit the place to form your own opinion. You should know, however, that at night the cocktail bar is a favorite haunt for gays, the music is very loud and the place is often over-crowded. If you want to have fun, then it’s a great place to spend the evening; if you want a bit of peace and quiet, it would be better if you chose another bar – or spent the evening at your hotel with a good book!

Operation Hours: Monday - Saturday: 17.00 - 03.00. Sunday - closed.
7
Grassy Edifice

7) Grassy Edifice

Just next to the Metropolis Building is the Grassy Edifice (Edificio Grassy), a massive structure named after the jewelery shop it used to host on the first floor. It was built in a modernists art déco style with an original column-like cupola at the top. It is one of the most striking buildings of Gran via and it also contains a museum that exhibits rare watches that have belonged to royalties all over Europe. The Edificio Grassy was built between 1916 and 1917. It was constructed on a triangular piece of land, in the same way as the Edificio Metrópolis next to it. Moreover, its architect Eladio Laredo aimed to achieve an architectural similarity between both of them. This trend was respected to a certain extent along Gran Vía. It comprises two independent buildings, which are joined together by the hall and the patio. Eclectic in its architecture, it boasts a rotunda topped by two superimposed belvederes of Renaissance influence. In 1981, the Edificio Grassy was immortalized by painter Antonio López in his hyperrealist masterpiece "La Gran Vía". A plaque placed at the entrance of the building facing to Calle del Caballero de Gracia informs that in spring 1840 Théophile Gautier lived in this area.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Edificio Gran Peña

8) Edificio Gran Peña

This was one of the first structures to be built on Gran Via and stands just at the start of the street, in front of the Metropolis Building. It was built on a corner plot, highlighting the facade on the outside, in a classical baroque style.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Edificio Metrópolis

9) Edificio Metrópolis (must see)

On the corner of Calle de Alcala and the Gran Via, you will find another of Madrid’s famous landmarks: the Metropolis, one of the most photographed buildings in the city.

This graceful building was built in 1911 by the French architects Jules and Raymond Février after they won an architectural competition launched by the Union y el Fenix insurance company who owned the land.

The brothers gave the facade its lovely Beaux Arts style: the first floor balconies are separated by four pairs of Corinthian colonnades and above these are statues representing mining, industry, agriculture and commerce, sculpted by St Marceaux and Lambert.

The central dome is black with elaborate decorations in 24-carat gold-leaf. At the foot of the dome is a statue by Benlliure. On top of the dome once stood the Fenix symbol; a statue of a Phoenix with Ganymede on one of its wings, but this was removed in 1972 when Metropolis Seguros bought the building. Today the statue that graces the top of the dome is that of the winged goddess, Victoria.

Sadly over the years, the building had been damaged by pollution and pigeon excrement. Restoration work began in 1988 with particular care taken over the statues. The building was given a new roof and the facade was cleaned. The work took over seven years and nowadays cleaning is undertaken every year to keep this popular landmark as beautiful as the day it was inaugurated.

Why You Should Visit:
Certainly one of the most eye-catching buildings in the city center area, albeit closed to the public.

Tip:
You can get a great view of the Metropolis (from a different angle) from the top of the Círculo de Bellas Artes building (across the street) if willing to pay a few euros.
At night the pinnacle of Metropolis' tower is lit with lights and the views are great.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Círculo de Bellas Artes

10) Círculo de Bellas Artes

Not far from the Plaza de las Cibeles you will find the Circulo de Bellas Artes, a private, non-profit making cultural institution which first opened its doors in 1881. In 1921 it was declared the Center for the Protection of Fine Arts and in 1981 it was listed as a National Historical Building.

The institution offers one of the most active cultural programmes in Madrid and is certainly worth an afternoon’s visit. You will find here something for everyone’s taste in the arts; in the exhibition rooms you can admire drawings, paintings, etchings, ceramics and photos from many famous artists and also from up and coming artists of today.

For film lovers there is a cinema, but if you prefer to see a play, you will also find a good theater. There are concert and lecture halls and during the Madrid Carnival the famous Masked Ball is held here. Bookworms will love the Center’s well-stocked library or you can play snooker in the Billiard Room on the third floor. There is a shop for souvenirs and a cafe/restaurant where you can enjoy a very good meal and tapas are served at all hours of the day.

Don’t miss a visit to the terrace, where there is a statue of Minerva and where you will be afforded a wonderful view of Madrid.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum)

11) Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) (must see)

The Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Fine Arts Museum) was founded in 1752 and while it might not be as grand as other museums in Madrid, it is one of the most important and is certainly a must for lovers of Spanish art.

Housed in the 18th century Goyeneche Palace not far from Puerto del Sol, the museum proudly displays over 1500 paintings and 600 sculptures dating from the 15th century to the present day. It is also the headquarters of the Academy of Art and Picasso and Dali were once students at the Academy.

In the section for foreign artists you will be able to admire important works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Raphael and Titian, and “Spring”, one of the wonderful 16th century “Four Seasons” paintings by Arcimboldo.

Spanish works are represented by El Greco, Murillo Ribera, Velázquez and Zurbaran. A whole room is devoted to Goya, where you will find two self-portraits and “The Madhouse”. Another room is dedicated to Picasso and the exhibits include a part of his collection of drawings from the famous “Suite Vollard”.

The Museo de Calcografia Nacional in the same building and here you can see the original chalcography plates used by Goya. You can also buy limited edition prints.

Why You Should Visit:
Contains art from some of the best-loved old masters but eventually becomes more modern as you get to the top.
The collections can be easily enjoyed in beautiful rooms with lots of comfortable/intimate space to relax.

Tip:
Entry is free on Wednesdays; on paydays, there's a seniors discount.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
Puerta del Sol

12) Puerta del Sol (must see)

Puerta del Sol ("The Gate of the Sun") square is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre (Km 0) of the radial network of Spanish roads, located in the very heart of the city, not far from Plaza Mayor. The square is dominated by the monument to King Carlos III and the famous bronze sculpture of "the bear and the strawberry tree". Another key attraction here is the clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes at a new year celebration that's been broadcast live on the Spanish national TV since 1962.

Why You Should Visit:
Indispensable for first-time visitors; the essence of Madrid and Spain – lively, boisterous, cheerful.
Many restaurants here serve food till well after midnight, and the pubs stay open till 3am on weeknights and till 4am on weekends.
Unlike other areas of Madrid, most retailers here don't close for the afternoon siesta.

Tip:
Make sure you know where your valuables are at all times.
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Calle Mayor

13) Calle Mayor

Calle Mayor street runs from La Cuesta de la Vega to Puerto del Sol. Back in the Middle Ages this was the main street of Madrid housing shops of silversmiths, coopers and fletchers who used to sell their wares to the rich merchants passing by to the city center. Today, Calle Mayor is renowned for its boutiques, cafes and restaurants, much as for excellent street musicians and a number of peculiar buildings associated with historic personalities and events. At N° 48 you will find the Cervantes House Museum, a place where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, #1 Spanish writer was born. N° 61 is the narrowest house in Madrid, measuring only 5 meters across. N° 88 went down in history in 1906 when the anarchist Mateo Moral attempted to kill King Alfonso XIII along with his bride on their wedding day by throwing a bomb from this house's top balcony. The royal couple was unhurt, but there were many innocent victims in memory of which a monument has been erected opposite the house.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Arco de Cuchilleros

14) Arco de Cuchilleros

The largest and liveliest plaza in Madrid is the Plaza Mayor and you can gain access to it through nine archways, the most famous of which is the Arco de los Cuchilleros.

The archway is more a street than a simple arch between one place and another. Reached by a flight of stone steps, the Cutler’s Arch was once where the city’s cutlers and sword makers plied their trade.

Nowadays it has taverns and handicraft shops where you can buy handmade souvenirs, including pottery, leather goods, wood-carvings, wicker baskets and silver jewelry. In one of the taverns you can watch, or even take part in, flamenco dancing.

The Plaza Mayor was built in the early 17th century, but after a fire destroyed most of it in 1790, the Spanish architect, Juan de Villanueva, redesigned the square in the style you can see today. The plaza has served many purposes over the centuries: it was a market, a bullring, a gathering place for public executions, an open-air theater and where many tournaments took place.

Today it is a great tourist attraction with its cafes, restaurants and shops. In late November until the end of the year it is the site of the biggest Christmas market in Madrid, and on Sundays there is an important market for coin and stamp collectors.
Sight description based on wikipedia
15
Plaza Mayor

15) Plaza Mayor (must see)

Plaza Mayor, originally known as "Plaza del Arrabal", was built during the Habsburg rule period and is a central square of Madrid, located only a few blocks away from Puerta del Sol. Rectangular in shape, the square measures 129 by 94 meters and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings with a total of 237 balconies facing the Plaza, nine entryways and a ring of old and traditional shops and cafes under their porticoes. Casa de la Panadería, a municipal building, dominates Plaza Mayor. In the course of history, the square has hosted many different things, including markets, bullfights, soccer games, and even public executions of condemned heretics back in the days of the Spanish Inquisition. This place is excellent to hang out or start an interesting tour.

Why You Should Visit:
Perfectly symmetrical, highly detailed architecture, with a walkway to shield from sun or rain around its perimeter. This layout has been copied in squares around Europe and for good reason.
Very photogenic, and always full of people with cameras; also a great spot to have dinner and drinks and watch the world go by.

Tip:
If looking for something cheaper and just as good quality, try the restaurants and bars just outside the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia
16
Restaurante Sobrino de Botín

16) Restaurante Sobrino de Botín (must see)

The Botín restaurant, a famous eatery in Madrid, claims to be the "oldest restaurant in the world." It was founded by Frenchman Jean Botin and his spouse and was originally called Casa Botín. The restaurant was inherited by their nephew Candido Remis, thus explaining the change of name to Sobrino de Botín, which survives to this day. The famous painter Francisco Goya is said to have worked here as a dishwasher in his younger years and the place was also a firm favorite of Ernest Hemingway. It grew more popular after Hemingway's regular visits, and is said to be the place of the last scene of his novel "The Sun Also Rises." Botín is known for its excellent cuisine and great staff.

Tip:
You can also book the 'Botín Experience' which includes a tour of the restaurant prior to sitting down for your meal.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 1pm-4pm / 8pm-12am
Sight description based on wikipedia
17
Plaza de Cascorro

17) Plaza de Cascorro

This square is located close to the La Latina station. Plaza de Cascorro is famous for hosting every Sunday El Rastro, that is the most popular open air flea market in Madrid, where locals love to go shopping for leather, furniture, antiques, souvenirs or second-hand items. The square is surrounded by residential buildings and contains the bronze statue of Eloy Gonzalo, a famous Spanish soldier. The statue is commonly known as the Cascorro Statue, hence the name of the square.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Madrid, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Create Your Own Walk in Madrid

Creating your own self-guided walk in Madrid is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Sol Souvenir Shopping

Sol Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Madrid without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Madrid, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour

Buen Retiro Park Walking Tour

El Parque del Buen Retiro is one of the main attractions of the city of Madrid. Known to the locals simply as "El Retiro," the park is a favorite place to spend weekends and summer days and was considered a Royal Park up until two centuries ago. Highlights of the park include several fountains, palaces, monuments and arranged gardens. Discover this historical site step by step in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 km
Salamanca Walking Tour

Salamanca Walking Tour

The Spanish capital is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk brings you to and around one of them - Salamanca - one of the wealthiest and most expensive areas of Madrid, home to many foreign embassies and upscale venues. To see what else makes Salamanca a famous destination, take this walk and find out.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
City Center Walking Tour

City Center Walking Tour

The oldest part of Madrid, Centro district is one of the most happening areas of the Spanish capital. A place of regular celebrations and festivals, it is also home to some of Madrid's major attractions, such as Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Espana, Plaza de la Villa, Puerta del Sol, as well as many cultural venues – theaters, museums and galleries. On this walk you will visit a good number of them.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Cortes Entertainment Walk

Cortes Entertainment Walk

Madrid is the economical, political and cultural center of Spain. Founded in the 9th century, this city is one of the most relevant destinations that Spain has to offer to its visitors concerning culture and history. Madrid is a hot destination filled with interesting spots including museums, historical sites, Flamenco bars and much more. Discover Cortes barrio step by step, as proposed in the list below.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Moncloa and Camberi Walking Tour

Moncloa and Camberi Walking Tour

Madrid is a vibrant metropolis made up of 21 districts. This walk covers two of them - Moncloa and Camberi - with the former being a leafy area replete with laid-back cafe terraces, evening crowds, and students hanging out at bars around Moncloa’s colleges. Camberi, in turn, is a quintessential castizo neighborhood, rightfully regarded as “simply cool” and ideal for those seeking to enjoy the authentic way of life in Madrid. Take this walk and discover Moncloa and Camberi in their variety.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 km

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