At over a hundred years old, Gran Vía, in the Sol / Gran Vía area, is one of the city’s main arteries and one of its most iconic avenues. Its construction, between 1910 and 1931, marked the beginning of the modernisation of the city, with the appearance of the country's first skyscrapers and the adoption of modern architectural trends originating in the United States.
The project was intended to decongest the chaotic centre of the city, formed by a tangle of narrow streets, 22 of which were to disappear. It was carried out in three stages, starting at the point where Gran Vía meets Calle Alcalá. The first stage went as far as Red de San Luis, the second as far as Plaza del Callao and the third up to Plaza de España, each of them reflecting the new architectural styles of the years in which they were completed.
As the project had to respect three religious buildings (the Caballero de Gracia oratory, and the San José and San Francisco de Borja churches, the latter no longer in existence), the line taken by the avenue was less regular than originally planned. The result is a magnificent series of buildings, which include some of the city's best known landmarks: the Metrópolis, the Telefónica building, the Casino Militar, the Capitol building and the Callao cinema.