The city of Barcelona is distinguished by its vast roads, avenues, and wide streets. If we must make any examples, it has to be Gran Vía de las Cortes Catalanas, popularly known as Gran Vía.
A length of 13 kilometres characterises this enormous street that crosses through the city, connecting Hospitalet de Llobregat and San Adrián de Besós together. Gran Vía is not only one of the most symbolic streets in Barcelona, but it is also home to some of the most important commercial and business centres.
This street's foundation has its origins in the so-called Plan Cerdá, an ambitious renovation and grid widening project in 1860, which was the work of the engineer, Ildefonso Cerdá. Initially called the Letter N, number 11, as early as 1900 it adopted the name of Cortes, which in 1931 it was changed to Avenida de las Cortes Catalanas. After the Civil War, the new government renamed it Avenida de José Antonio Primo de Rivera and with the return of democracy acquiring its current name.
If the street itself is symbolic, it also crosses some of the most representative plazas in Barcelona, such as Plaza de España. Its extension of 34,000 sqm makes it the second largest in Spain and has a huge flow of traffic through the confluence of large streets, such as Gran Vía itself and Paralelo Avenue. Initially designed by the modernist architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, during the 1929 International Exhibition, it houses buildings such as the Las Arenas Shopping Centre (former Mudejar bullring) or the Venetian Towers, built for the Exhibition itself.
It also crosses through Plaza de la Universidad, right on the edge of Ensanche and Ciutat Vella. Currently, it is the usual meeting place for tourists and locals and welcomes the Humanities Campus, the oldest university in Barcelona (from the 19th century). Since 1910, the plaza was distinguished by the presence of the statue of Dr. Bartomeu Robert, symbol of Catalanism, marked by the Franco dictatorship for its destruction and hidden by the city of Barcelona. The monument was restored in 1975, but was later moved to Plaza de Tetuán.
The mentioned Plaza de Tetuán is an oasis endowed with abundant greenery, in spite of the considerable traffic that passes through its vast roads. While in the district of San Martín, bordering Ensanche, Gran Vía crosses another symbolic plaza, Glorias Catalanas, with the Bellcaire Market, which has been there since 1928.