THE METRO GRAN VIA MAKE-OVER: An Engineering Feat and a Thing of Beauty

A landmark marquee of translucent glass and steel, a spectacular replica of
templete at the old Red de San Luis
A Guidepost Report
Photos: Rose Maramba unless stated otherwise
Iconic architecture and user-friendly facilities

State-of-the-art turnstiles and a new main hall double the size of the old one

The most modern facilities of the entire subway network with state-of-the-art turnstiles. A giant intermodal facility equivalent to an 8-storey building underground. A main hall double the size of the old one, now with an area of 2,000 square meters. Fourteen innovative ticket vending machines with large display screens that, for one thing, allow contactless payment and a video call service.  A landmark marquee of translucent glass and steel, a spectacular replica of the templete (pavilion) in the confluence of Calle Montera and Gran Via on the old Red de San Luis, by Spanish architect Antonio Palacios who helped define the architectural identity of Madrid in the first half of the 20th century.

Partial view of the Red de San Luis polygonal plaza before it was pedestrianized in 2009. The street on the left is Gran Via.

“When all the work is completed next summer,” Ángel Garrido, Regional Minister of Transport, Mobility and Infrastructures and Metro President, announced during his visit to the site late last year, “this station will once again be one of the most important in the Metro network, but reflecting the values and demands of the 21st century. A new modern, accessible, inclusive, and digital Gran Vía station, which reflects our commitment to what will be the Metro model of the future, thanks to our plans for modernization and accessibility.”

Direct underground connection between Metro lines 1 and 5 and the Sol Cercanías commuter rail station

The station, with direct underground connection between Metro lines 1 and 5 and the Sol Cercanías commuter rail station, is fully accessible by all passengers, what with the installation of 13 new connected escalators and four lifts. Passengers with reduced mobility will benefit from new accessibility features such as easy opening systems on doors, non-slip strips on staircases, Braille labels on handrails, signposting of accessibility elements, double-height handrails, accessible communication intercoms, and ceramic visual-tactile flooring to facilitate movement through the stations.

Respect for priceless heritage
The enlargement and modernization of the Gran Vía station had faced significant technical complications mainly because work had to be done within the historic old station. Located in the center of Madrid, the work was further complicated, having to contend with a complex environment subject to cultural heritage protection and carried out in coordination with the General Administration of Cultural Heritage. Safety and the protection of the heritage that has been unearthed on the site have had to be prioritized.

A sample of ceramic tile from Manises (15th century)

No sooner had the work begun than workers encountered remnants of the centenary elevator designed by Antonio Palacios for the inauguration of the station in 1919. Some of the total of 17 archeological pieces from different eras that surfaced included ornamental ceramics, a mural of ceramic tiles produced in Manesis, the Valencian town popularized by centuries of pottery-making tradition, two old waterways,  the foundation and basements of the house known as Casa Astrearena built around 1745 for Don Pedro de Astrearena, Marquis of Murillo and Knight of the Order of Calatrava, which was demolished to give way to the construction of Gran Via (1910 – 1929), now Madrid’s most famous street.

All this had played havoc with the original timetable of the project. On 20 August 2018, the Gran Via station was closed to the public, signaling the commencement of the remodeling.  The work was going to last eight months, just until April 2019. But the reopening had had to be postponed. Indeed, the renovated Gran Via Metro station was re-inaugurated (reopened) at 6:00 A.M. on Friday, 16 July 2021, the trains rolling down the tracks again nearly three years after the renovation began!

A 3-year and €21 million project

The bottom line of the ledger
The final disbursement of over €21 million topped the projected €17 million.




Video: President of the Autonomous Community of Madrid speaks about the Gran Via Metro station the day before its inauguration



Quote mark/Oakus53, CC BY-SA4.0
Manises tile/Museo de Cerami de Manises, CC BY-SA4.0
Red de San Luis/Eric Chan, CC BY2.0 via Flickr